Hotels in Hungary

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Kempinski Hotel Corvinus

by Sarah Shuckburgh

The Kempinski Corvinus was Hungary's only five star hotel when it opened in 1992, and today, with every room recently refurbished, it still claims to be the most luxurious. The 9-floor modern building lacks charm, but the hotel is efficiently run and it's in a convenient position, minutes from Pest's financial centre and its pedestrian shopping streets.

Although the architecture is stark, there are nods to Budapest's rich cultural heritage. More than one thousand contemporary Hungarian paintings and statues are permanently on show, and the first-floor art gallery also mounts changing exhibitions of local artists' work. The hotel's name, 'Corvinus' - the raven - was the nickname of the 15th century King Matthias, one of Hungary's greatest heroes. If you are famous enough, you will be invited to add your autograph to those of other recent celebrity guests (including Brad Pitt, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy) in a crested replica of a medieval volume from King Matthias's library.

The 24-hour concierge service is friendly and efficient - our many requests ranged from a toothbrush to tickets for the opera, and all were dealt with immediately and successfully. Live chamber music wafts into the lobby from a balcony each afternoon, and in the evenings a pianist plays in the Corvinus bar. The hotel food is international : you can dine on Italian specialities in the Ristorante Giardino, or go for traditional Bavarian food and beer at the Kempi Brauhaus. The Bistro Jardin serves some Hungarian dishes, and you can enjoy coffee and a cream-filled torta (including a Kempinski house special) in the lobby cafe. And there is 24-hour room service.

However, unlike some of its rivals, the Corvinus is set 100 yards back from the Danube, in leafy Elizabeth Square. The river and the Buda hills on the other bank are out of sight behind tall buildings. The Kempinski chain owns thirty hotels world-wide, and the Corvinus feels less Hungarian than international. The corridors are wide, and the rooms are large and airy but it all feels a bit soulless, and the hotel clearly relies heavily on corporate functions. Indeed, as well as being a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the hotel has won many specialist awards for business travel, including Business Traveller's "Best Hotel in Europe 2001". All rooms have a desk, and two telephone lines, with ISDN, fax and PC connections. Corridors bristle with security cameras, and there are ten conference rooms and a business centre and internet corner. An arcade of luxury shops confirms the tone, selling jewellery, antiques and the famous Hungarian Herend porcelain.

First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd

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