By Don Heimburger
Photos by the author
In the sea of humanity which is Budapest, there is an oasis of calm and sophistication called the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal.
Situated at Erzsebet krt 43-49 in the city center, this posh five-star hotel presents a grand facade, behind which lies 414 rooms, including 98 executive guestrooms on six floors, six junior suites, 22 one-bedroom deluxe suites and even 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments.
From the Grand Ballroom, which features 72 tons of inlaid marble (a centerpiece of the hotel), to the plush lobby, to the quiet and well-staffed restaurant, this well-appointed hotel is tops.
As Rick Steves has suggested, a top hotel is where he likes to stay when in a Eastern European city because of the service, food and cleanliness. Certainly the Corinthia fits this category.
As guests enter, a sweeping six-story atrium tops out with a glass roof, and a broad statue-lined staircase soars upwards to the mezzanine. Light-colored columns, delicate trimmed railings, large flower arrangements and pleasant desk personnel add to the atmosphere.
Relaxing at the hotel isn’t hard. It offers a Royal Spa, the first of which opened in 1886, with all the latest spa facilities and treatments, plus its own 50-foot-long swimming pool, saunas, steam bath, jacuzzi, fitness room, mud/seaweed baths and more.
The rooms are nicely appointed, with laundry and dry cleaning services available, tea/coffee makers in the room, iron and ironing board, and room service is available. Elevators take guests to their floors. Terrycloth bathrobes are available for guests in the rooms.
Languages spoken by the staff include English, Hungarian, German, French, Spanish and Italian. A concierge is available, as is a currency exchange, non-allergic pillows and a safe deposit box at the front desk. Parking is also available. There is a 24-hour security staff, complimentary access to WiFi wireless internet access, and internet access in rooms.
The breakfast buffet, one of the highlights of the morning, includes a variety of breads, croissants, muffins, coffee, champagne, hot and cold meats (bacon, sausage), eggs (scrambled and fried and made-to-order), fruits, pastries, cereals, juices, cheeses, baked beans, hash brown potatoes, pancakes, waffles, fresh vegetables, yogurts, and more. I came away fully satisfied with the morning breakfast. Service in the restaurant was always fast and friendly.
The Corinthia features five restaurants/bars, a nightclub, a number of retail outlets and 26 apartments for long term stays.
Room rates at the Corinthia vary depending on the season, but one night in May 2009 would start at about $245 U.S.
The hotel first opened for the Millennium Exhibition in 1896, where Josephine Baker, Heinz Rühmann and many other celebrities stayed at the time. Over the years, many famous writers and artists have been guests at the hotel.
During the last renovation, the hotel had a $100 million facelift that virtually gutted the entire building, leaving a beautiful hotel in the central part of Budapest.