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Hungary’s first Crowne Plaza hotel ushers in the new age of rail


  • Peterjon Cresswell

  • Zsófia Nagy

02/08/2021 4.08pm

Billowing flags in proud Hungarian colours signals the arrival of a new luxury lodging in town, the Crowne Plaza Budapest. The first of its kind to open in Hungary, part of the business-oriented portfolio of the IHG Hotels and Resorts group with 400+ properties from Atlanta to Vietnam, this four-star hotel is attached to Nyugati station, created by the men from Eiffel of Paris tower fame nearly 150 years ago. It was 175 years ago, in fact, that the first train journey in Hungary set off from here – and 2021 is the European Year of Rail.

Elegantly proportioned, with 100 of its rooms now open and the full 230 scheduled to be ready by the end of the year, the Crowne Plaza Budapest cost €10 million to adapt. Whereas its counterpart in Belgrade stands by the Sava convention centre, and in Bucharest by the Romexpo exhibition hall, here the focus is on travel and commerce.

Photo: Jancsó Gergely

Integral to the Westend mall with its 400 retail outlets, overlooking the steam-era palace of steel and glass, Nyugati station, recently overhauled and soon to look pristine, the Crowne Plaza Budapest has chosen its moment well. With tourism slowly picking up after the winter shutdown, and rail a greener (and more pleasurable) alternative to air, this surprisingly affordable four-star should appeal to shopper, traveller and business visitor alike.

Sándorné Demján cuts the ribbon

Photo: Gergely Jancsó

People have adapted to flexible working over the last 18 months, so it’s become more important than ever to help them reconcile work and private life,” general manager Maurice Janssen said to the gathered press and dignitaries before a particular VIP stepped forward to cut the ribbon. Widow of the renowned entrepreneur Sándor Demján, who was founder of the Granit Polus real-estate and development group behind the Westend itself, Sándorné Demján was granted special reverence as she took the applause and gestured guests inside to admire the high-ceilinged gem of a lobby area.

Photo: Jancsó Gergely

Business travel

According to our philosophy,” said Janssen, "the business trip is a people-to-people experience where we place great emphasis on quality sleep, a healthy lifestyle and food, cultural experiences and people-to-people contacts.”

The lobby was already a-buzz with activity in one corner, paying guests co-working and networking,  tapping away at laptops and chatting quietly into headphones. The space is free for drop-in visitors as well as hotel guests. A human face is never far away, though: the friendly staff behind the reception desk.

Axis Café & Lounge

Photo: Jancsó Gergely

Diagonally opposite, the sleek interior of the Axis Café & Lounge accommodated journalists and those in the travel trade. Here, breakfast is usually served until 2pm, seasonal cuisine all day. Outside, its terrace alongside the main doors of the hotel look out onto the constant blur of Váci út, the main route to north Budapest. Round the corner is the Nagykörút, where trams serve the main artery of Pest every three, possibly four, minutes. As the name Axis suggests, connection is key.

Photo: Jancsó Gergely

As is, looking around, design, created by Polish company tremend. Contemporary Hungarian geometric and abstract art features a series by István Haász, Judit Horváth Lóczi and Anikó Robitz. Architectural detail, textures and colours echo those of Nyugati station, with a direct link with the hotel to be created in good time.  

Photo: Jancsó Gergely

International rail hubs are not the quietest of places and what impresses most as you step inside any guestroom is the lack of noise, obviously of prime importance for a good night’s sleep. Special bedding and dimming also help. Windows look out over the station or the garden and courtyards surrounding the Westend mall, whose huge Rooftop Garden is another plus in summer. The art on the walls is original, and the provision of a bathtub and shower a godsend, as well as green-friendly Antipodes toiletries from New Zealand.

For the time being, only the lower two floors are in operation, along with the reception area – in all, 13 function rooms will operate. A gym with gorgeous views is due soon, then a restaurant with its own roof terrace, Cult, in 2022.

Hisztéria confectionery

Photo: Gergely Jancsó

Rail connections can take different forms, of course, and not all involve trains. To complement the new-wave coffee sourced from László Bányai, a Costa-Rican farm owner of Hungarian origin, the confectionery at the Axis Café is by Hisztéria, run by a multi-generational local family. The grandparents started their careers at Utasellátó, the buffets on wheels and at train stations in the golden days. What may be of note is that their cakes are now served on the Orient Express.

Hotel information

Crowne Plaza Budapest
District VI. Váci út 1-3

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