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Budapest’s new Hotel Clark opens beside the Chain Bridge


  • Nick Robertson

03/04/2018 12.23pm

After years of planning and complicated permitting procedures, a brand-new hotel is open for business at one of Budapest’s most prominent locations – just steps away from the city’s iconic Chain Bridge beside the flowerbed-centered roundabout of Clark Ádám Square, all in the shadow of Buda Castle. Welcoming guests since early March, the four-star Hotel Clark incorporates historic elements into its thoroughly modern design, boldly standing out as a 21st-century hospitality destination while aiming to blend unobtrusively into its postcard-superstar surroundings.

Officially, Buda’s picturesque Clark Ádám Square is the very center of Hungary’s capital – here the “Mile Zero” marker stands at the spot from which every distance to Budapest is measured. This is an appropriately grand location encapsulating Budapest’s majesty, where an ever-buzzing roundabout connects the Chain Bridge with Buda’s leafy riverbank and the massive tunnel running beneath the Castle District looming on the plateau above, accessible by the antique Buda Castle Hill Funicular. Completing the square's dignified appearance, the surrounding buildings are 19th-century neo-Renaissance palaces – but for many decades the curving row of old-fashioned façades featured a conspicuous gap.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

In 1862, the stately Buda Savings Bank – designed by Miklós Ybl, architect of the Hungarian State Opera House and the recently renovated Várkert Bazaar – opened at this prime piece of Clark Ádám Square real estate; Ybl’s Chain Bridge Palace still stands across the street. Over the years, some of Hungary’s greatest writers frequented the Chain Bridge Café on the bank’s ground floor, including Mihály Babits and Zsigmond Móricz – but alas, like so many notable now-gone Budapest buildings, the Buda Savings Bank was destroyed during World War II. Nothing had stood on this site for decades until the Hotel Clark was erected during the past year.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Now the brand-new Hotel Clark fills this vacancy with a strikingly different appearance from its neighboring buildings. The hotel’s contemporary façade bears dark tones and minimalist aesthetics sleekly contouring to the roundabout’s circular dimensions. Largely devoid of external statuary like the building’s ornamented neighbors, the Hotel Clark’s frontage is smoothly curvaceous with recessed windows in a gradually warping grid pattern, like how a waffle iron might look in a Salvador Dalí painting.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

This understated modern appearance is quite deliberate – the Hotel Clark entrepreneurs had no desire to plonk a showy new building in this hallowed location, and so their architectural team strove to make the façade as inconspicuous as possible so that all attention is still drawn to Clark Ádám Square’s time-honored sights. While some observers have complained that the hotel’s contemporary appearance creates a visual contrast with its surroundings when examined close-up, it is undeniable that from a distance – such as when viewed from Pest’s Danube Promenade – the modern Hotel Clark is subtly concealed within Buda’s venerable skyline.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Regardless of varying opinions about the exterior, the Hotel Clark’s interior design impressively envelops guests with elegantly modern settings and playful visual elements influenced by the property’s historic nature. Honoring the storied stone lions that eternally guard both sides of the Chain Bridge, the Hotel Clark is filled with lion-related imagery from the front entrance to the guest rooms, and within the lobby we can admire a contemporary lion sculpture by original columns and stone balustrades painstakingly preserved from Ybl’s doomed edifice on this site.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Above, a huge skylight illuminates the reception area’s plush furnishings and front desk, with a living plant wall and terrarium introducing welcome greenery amid this urban hotel. Adjacent to the lobby, the new Beefbar Budapest restaurant operates separately from the hotel, but serves breakfast à la carte for hotel guests; for more details about Beefbar, read this article.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

The hotel currently features 86 guest rooms in four categories: courtyard-facing double rooms, street-view double rooms, Danube-view double rooms, and deluxe Danube-view rooms on the 7th floor, featuring a private balcony with an incomparable panorama of the Chain Bridge and Pest riverfront.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Naturally, room rates are higher for accommodations with better Danube views, but all rooms have the same design elements – tasteful wooden flooring, sleek black and silvery furnishings, and glass bathroom partitions adorned with an intriguing wave pattern. The Hotel Clark lion logo features prominently, with the animal spirit complemented by pillows adorned with a regal-looking monkey and toucan.

Back downstairs, a suspended hallway of overlapping colored glass – creating intriguing reflections intermingling the Beefbar Budapest restaurant and lounge, and the swirling scene of the Clark Ádám Square roundabout outside – leads to the fitness room and sauna. Open to all hotel guests, it features a picture window to the street scene and bridge below that provides perfect people-watching for anyone using the treadmill.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Other hotel amenities provided to all guests include 24-hour concierge services, high-speed WiFi throughout the building, and in-room Nespresso coffee machines – and as Hotel Clark management is primarily aiming for couples to fill the rooms, no guests can be younger than 18 years old. Hotel Clark rates currently start at 129 euros per night, although discounts may be available through the hotel website’s booking engine.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Among Budapest locals, the most eagerly anticipated Hotel Clark amenity is not yet completed – but when the spacious rooftop bar opens to the general public, this will instantly be one of the city’s most popular panoramic hangouts for its unparalleled vistas over the Chain Bridge, Gellért Hill, and the Buda Castle seeming close enough to touch. The hotel is also considering installing penthouse suites on the same rooftop during periods when the skybar is temporarily inactive.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Overall, the Hotel Clark is an outstanding addition to Budapest’s hospitality offerings, especially considering that this is a locally created business – the Hotel Clark is managed by the Hungarian-owned Continental Group, operators of the prestigious Hotel Moments Budapest on Andrássy Avenue, the glamorous Hotel Palazzo Zichy (housed within a meticulously restored 19th-century palace), and the trendsetting Hotel Parlament – all properties that testify to the management’s genuine interest in preserving and enhancing our local community.

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

We are grateful that so much care and thought went into creating the Hotel Clark – it would’ve been easy for a global hotel company to build a generic property on this prime location and make it profitable, but the fact that the Hotel Clark is so tastefully integrated with its settings bodes well for its future success, both as a business and as a feature of Budapest’s beautiful riverfront.

Hotel Clark

Budapest 1013, Clark Ádám tér 1 Website

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