The Corinthia is a 21st-century rebuild of the original Royal Hotel opened here on Budapest’s Grand Boulevard in 1896, coinciding with the Hungarian Millennial celebrations that year. When it was being planned, in the 1870s, this part of Pest was still relatively empty – construction of the Royal coincided with the opening of Andrássy út and the Grand Boulevard, two main avenues that cross nearby. That same opening year, the Lumière Brothers came here to present the first showing in Budapest of moving pictures, and the hotel would go on to have a long association with film. The city’s first cinema was also set up here, and during World War I, locals would come and see newsreel films of the conflict.

A fire destroyed much of the original hotel in 1956 and when it reopened in 1961, it comprised 367 guestrooms. Overshadowed by the high-end hotels opening on the Danube Promenade, the Royal fell into neglect and disrepair. The Malta-based Corinthia group then took on the huge job of restoring and expanding this grand dame, which extends over two buildings to incorporate an outstanding spa complex in the basement (its pool a copy of the 1896 original), the top-quality Bock Bistro restaurant and the equally impressive Caviar & Bull eatery. The magnificent ballroom has also been restored.

The list of famous guests would fill a book – a display in the extensive lobby area shows many a star of stage and screen, Josephine Baker inspiring the Corinthia’s signature raspberry and chocolate confectionery.