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Hotel Histories: the Kempinski Corvinus Budapest

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  • Gretchen Kessler

15/06/2021 10.57am

What place in Budapest has Michael Jackson, Brad Pitt and Madonna in common? The Kempinski Hotel, of course. Opened in September 1992, the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest was built on the grounds of an old residential building in the centre of Budapest. Following bombings during World War II, the site was used as a car park for 40 years until new plans emerged to create Budapest’s first contemporary luxury hotel. From then on, the Kempinski has been welcoming guests in style. We take a look in our latest Hotel Histories series.

Step into the hotel lobby, and we are immediately greeted by the soaring nine-metre-high glazed ceiling with a modern take on Art Nouveau, designed by London-based MKV, with Maria Vafiadis at the helm. The large, sweeping windows and high ceilings bathe the interior with light.

The Kempinski comprises 353 spacious and elegant rooms, including the massive Presidential Suite on the ninth floor. It was in this very suite that Michael Jackson made himself at home during his trips to Budapest, famously waving to fans down below who grouped under a large tree in Erzsébet tér to get a glimpse of the superstar. 

Following his death, the tree became a memorial to Jackson, and to this day it can be seen covered in posters, pictures and memorabilia.

The hotel’s full name – Kempinski Corvinus Budapest – pays homage to Hungary’s great 15th-century king, Matthias Corvinus. The guest book for the hotel is the gorgeous Bibliotheca Corviniana, and among the illuminated pages we find the signatures of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Mick Jagger and many, many others.

More than 1,000 pieces comprise the Kempinski’s extensive Art Collection, including hundreds of Hungarian paintings and sculptures. The founding of the art collection corresponded to the opening of the hotel itself, as art and hospitality went hand-in-hand with the hotel’s core philosophy. In some cases, artists have even donated their works, such as the incredible paper sculpture on the ground floor, by visiting artist Sachin George Sebastian in 2014 and inspired by big metropolises such as Budapest.

The Kempinski is unique in offering five culinary options within its interior, including Blue Fox The Bar, serving late-night cocktails and whose blue cobalt detailing in inspired by Ányos Jedlik, the inventor of the soda-water bottle in 1829. The Living Room is a nod to Budapest’s coffee-house culture. Opened in 2010, Nobu Budapest is the first Central European member of Nobu's worldwide dining empire, co-owned by none other than Robert De Niro, who attended the opening ceremony in Budapest. 

ÉS Deli has brought Budapest the best bites a New York-style deli can offer – delicious meaty and meat-free sandwiches, paninis, wraps, baked pastries and Bircher muesli, as well as freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices. ÉS Bisztró is the largest restaurant on the premises, spilling to the pedestrianised Fashion Street under distinct red umbrellas. 

If the seasoning here tastes especially fresh, that’s because it is – up on the roof of the building, with unparalleled views of Pest, is the Kempinski’s rooftop herb garden, complete with its own sprinkler system!

From garden to ground floor, the Kempinski is a thriving example of contemporary Hungarian hospitality, and continues to welcome guests to enjoy the restaurants, spa, gym, lounge areas and luxurious rooms right in the heart of downtown Budapest.

Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
District V. Erzsébet tér 7-8 

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