Surprise guest in the Art Noveau Hotel Continental

Surprise guest in the Art Noveau Hotel Continental

In the Jewish quarter of Budapest, Hungary there is a hidden treasure behind an unbelievably crafted Art Nouveau portal. Sam Gilbert, the feared restaurant critic arrives to participate in a gourmet dinner by the hotel chef who he regularly meets in international gastro competition juries.

 

He is fond of history so always very happy to find a building which not the usual purpose built hotel building. “The title above the entrance says Hungaria Furdo (Hungaria Bath) as a memory of the history of this stunning building – converted to a 4-star hotel.” – the concierge is happy to explain. – “It was opened in 1907 as a public bath with the capacity of up to 3,000 people. This was the third biggest bath in Budapest: the vast pool occupied the place where today the lobby is, the roof used to be convertible, and water cascaded all over the columns.”

Sam takes sam photos of the lavish lobby. “It was closed during the I. World War and then re-opened as a cinema and theatre featuring the most prominent actors and actresses of those times. The adjacent building housed the Continental Hotel until 1970.” – goes on the concierge.

“After a few decades of regrettable neglect, a new owner bought the complex in 2008 who finds it very important to save the values and beauties of the past and merge it with the comfort of the present. No time or money was saved on meticulous research to restore the most they could while establishing an elegant but cosy interior using gold and natural brown colours and stylish art deco furniture and textile.”

Sam has to admit the interior meets even his high requirements and this is an absolute fit for his taste.

Before the dinner he chills in the wellness area. On the top floor of the hotel, there is a unique wellness centre with an indoor and outdoor pool – making the place the only hotel in Budapest with a roof pool! he takes a relaxing swim while admiring the breathtaking Budapest panorama. At the same time, his thoughts are elsewhere he can not stop thinking of Judith he met in Positano. The mixture of elegance, smartness and beauty made her a woman hard to remember. She would really like this place for the wedding. They exchanged contacts, so Sam decides to send her a message to come here.

The gourmet dinner is served in the hotel restaurant Araz. It reflects the same sleek and elegant style as the other parts of the building. It is easily the place with the highest concentration of Tom Dixon lamps. The firewall of the inner garden was decorated with the help of six artists in ten days: a huge painting of the 19th-century inner city. The dinner is perfect but Sam is really distracted by thoughts of Judith and what she might answer. Just before the dinner – perfect timing – her answer has arrived: she will make it! No dessert has ever tasted so good as this one. She says she is in Vienna, so she will arrive the next day. It was a long time since Sam has felt this excitement.

They agreed to meet in the café, which is an homage to the 19th century – a peaceful island above the lobby. The coffee machine is an antique piece still in perfect conditions: we had a cup of freshly grounded coffee with an amazing cake baked in the in-house confectionery. And there she is, so cool to see her again. “Hi Sam, so nice to think of me. And indeed, this hotel would be just perfect for the wedding. Simon also liked it, he is joining us in a few minutes, just checking in.” “….ah, Simon joined you?” – Sam can not disguise his disappointment. “Yes, we were lucky, he had a free weekend, so we can explore this wonderful city a bit.”

Photo Credit: Hotel Continental Budapest + photos by the author, story written by Timea Kadar

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