Go Solo In Budapest
The MAN|December 01, 2021
One of Europe's oldest, and grandest, cities is best enjoyed on foot. Just put on your explorer hat and let the city unmask its thousand faces
Ashwin Rajagopalan

In many ways the fortunes of Budapest’s grand hotel run parallel to the recent history of one of Eastern Europe’s most charming cities. I couldn’t help thinking about the 2014 feature film The Grand Budapest Hotel that elicited 9 Academy award nominations and 4 wins as I checked into the Corinthia, Budapest.

The sweeping views from the atrium reminded me of some of the scenes from the film that won the Best Production Design Oscar.

In 1896, when the Grand Royal hotel (with its distinctive French renaissance design language) debuted to coincide with Budapest’s Millennium Exhibition, it was Europe’s most imposing hotel, with 350 guest rooms and a grand ball room where the Lumiere brothers would screen a motion picture for the first time ever in Budapest.

The hotel’s fortunes faded after the First World War and suffered heavy damages during the Second World War. It managed to reopen in 1953 but was eventually shut down in 1991 after a fire, a reconstruction and one more relaunch in the 1960s.

WHERE TO STAY

CORINTHIA

THE ORIGINAL 19th Century Grand Budapest hotel was recently revamped into a contemporary luxury address in the heart of the city. The hotel has one of Budapest’s most beautiful baths

WALLET: ₹25,000 onwards

WEB: www.corinthia.com

THE RITZ CARLTON BUDAPEST

A SHORT walk from St. Stephen's Basilica, Erzsébet Square and the River Danube, this hotel is set within a 20th century heritage building that balances modern luxury with a tint of tradition. Five-star amenities include Ipanema Brazilian Grill with creative Latin American cuisine and a spa

WALLET: ₹30,000 onwards

WEB: www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/ europe/budapest

PICTURE: Ashwin Rajagopalan

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL GRESHAM PALACE

A LANDMARK on one of Europe’s most scenic rivers, this Budapest icon embodies historic grandeur and youthful exuberance. The spa harnesses Budapest’s renowned heritage in wellness, while the lovingly restored palace brings together 2 million mosaic tiles, an ornate Preciosa chandelier and dramatic stairways

WALLET: ₹30,000 onwards

WEB: (www.fourseasons.com/budapest)

In 2011, after a massive refurbishment, the Metropole Building morphed into the Corinthia Hotel and a few months after its opening, the first official announcement for the James Bond flick Skyfall was made at a Press Conference here.

This was the decade that saw Budapest emerge as one of the preferred destinations for solo travellers. And that’s exactly how I decided to explore it, on foot but knowing that I could come back to the lap of luxury each night in this vibrant city.

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