The problem with the Kempinski Hotel Cornivus Budapest is that when I’m there, I never want to leave. I’m partial to the charms of a hotel room in any case, but when the room comes surrounded by jewels such as a spa in which aching muscles are pummelled into submission, a swimming pool overlooking the city, and various eateries in the atrium surrounding the reception, I need a compelling reason to leave.
My recent visit was my first this year – I went to Budapest last summer (photo diaries here) and shacked up at the Corinthia. While I darted around the city jumping into thermal baths and imbibing cocktails overlooking the Danube with glee last year, this time I arrived feeling a touch less desperate to see the famous attractions and more, well, eager to be in Budapest. As it turned out, the Kempinski was the right choice of hotel to have made for an ultra-mellow city break…
THE ROOMS / The Solano-designed rooms are art deco with lots of lacquered wood, which isn’t usually my style, but coupled with good low lighting and an absurdly comfortable bed, the decor seemed to work (though reminded me a bit of the set of a Poirot – I couldn’t help but channel Miss Lemon as I wafted around). The bathroom, however, did it for me – warm and inviting, rather than the usual sterile pale hotel bathroom, it made me rather fancy installing wood panels in my own bathroom in the hope of achieving a similar vibe.
THE HOTEL RECEPTION / There’s a degree of feeling like you’re in a shopping centre (in a good sense) when you’re downstairs in the Kempinski. Under the oval balcony on which the spa is perched are a series of rooms that house little shops, a tea room, a stand selling coffees and snacks, a bar, and the restaurants. This microcosmic Budapest is heaven for an agoraphobe like me – I found myself whiling hours away in poking in and out of the shop/restaurants and eating endless pieces of cake, before hitting the gym in an attempt to burn it all off. I’ve also earmarked this place for my parents – though nowhere near the age of being immobile, they like to kick back while feeling they’re ‘doing something’, so this area would be ideal for them.
THE RESTAURANTS / Breakfast is served in ES Bisztro, which turns into a brasserie come the evening. The menu was surprisingly good – as a vegetarian who leans towards veganism, I worried that my options would be hugely limited in a country as famed for a love of meat as Hungary, but they didn’t balk in the slightest at my request for soya milk/egg whites/gluten free (I know – I’m THAT person), and made it all taste delicious despite the odds. There’s also a Nobu, which pretty much serves the same stuff as every branch of Nobu in similar surroundings, which is not to dismiss it in the slightest – anywhere that can make a bunch of vegetables taste that yummy is a winner in my eyes.
THE SPA / The masseuses in this brilliant spa seem to combine an instinctive understanding of where my muscles hurt with an knack of knowing how hard to push to release tension without making me erupt in anguish. The wrap I’m pictured in was followed by a massage designed to get blood moving and to reawaken a sluggish system. As soon as you’ve finished with your steam/swim/sauna/work out/session of lounging, you can head to the reception area in a dressing gown and order off the spa version of the Nobu menu.
THE LOCATION / Walk out the front door and you’re right where it’s at – a three minute walk from Andrassy Avenue (the Bond Street of Budapest), where at one end you’ll find the Szechenyi thermal baths and Heroes Square, at the other the Kempinski), and a stone’s throw from the Danube. If you fancy traversing the famous Chain Bridge to picturesque Buda, it’ll take about 20 minutes in total.