At the Corinthia Budapest, a Cinematic Legacy and 120 Years of Habsburg-era Glory
Like a true grand dame hotel, the Corinthia Hotel in Budapest wears its age well. At 120 years old, the former Royal hotel constructed by the Swiss-born architect Rezső Ray (who designed many of the city’s public buildings) was one of the largest in Europe when it was first constructed in 1896, with 400 rooms and a staff of 200: unheard of in that day and age!
The Royal Orpheum (now the effervescent hotel bar) opened its doors so many celebrities, including the American-born French dancer Josephine Baker; in this aspect (Baker was the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture," ZouZou"), it was way ahead of its time. But it still clings to its past: even though the hotel has been rebranded, many aspects from the signature swirlish “R” inscribed into the marble lobby entrance still carry the vestiges of the Royal legacy.
Obviously, film has always played a starring role in the hotel’s image (the Lumière brothers debuted several movies at the Royal). If you envied Zero Moustafa’s gig in the eponymous Wes Anderson film who was inspired by the Corinthia property even though the film was made in Germany, you’ll realize that there are several white-gloved Zero aspirants in the hotel lobby, listening to your every wish.
When the Pisani family (who owns properties in London and Malta) took over in 2003, the grand ballroom (which survived WWII bombs), with its fin-de-siècle neo-baroque details was restored to its former glory.
I was fortunate enough to experience a gala dinner in that very ballroom, and marveled at the gilded details and paintings of luminaries that wrap around the walls.
If you stay in one of the property’s 439 rooms, do a bit of dreaming, and revel in the Habsburg-style elegance that is in every detail.