We spent the day at one of Budapest's most iconic hotels, indulging in their spa and taking part in a delicious lunch tasting menu at their acclaimed Brasserie
Budapest’s bath culture dates back almost two thousands years to the times of the Roman Empire, when the multitude of hot springs in the area, (that is now occupied by the city) prompted them to build a settlement so that they could enjoy the thermal waters. Centuries after the Romans, the Turkish – for whom the hammam was an essential social institution – built some of Budapest’s most magnificent bathhouses during their 150-year rule over Hungary from the 16th to the 17th centuries. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the dawn of modern tourism brought many visitors to Budapest, made the city world-famous for its healing waters and spurred the construction of so many spas that the city was nicknamed “The City of Spas” in the 1930’s.
Today, baths – some of them dating back to Ottoman rule – can be found all over the city and visiting a spa is considered one of the most important experiences to have while in Budapest. Chris and I wanted to avoid crowded and touristy bathhouses but we did not want to miss out on the experience and on all the history that involves bathhouses in Budapest. The Royal Spa at the Corinthia Hotel allowed us to enjoy a historic spa more than one hundred years old without awkwardly bumping every two seconds into bathers in a crowded pool elsewhere. We decided to make a day trip out of it and spent an afternoon being pampered with massages and lazing around their pool before heading off to a late lunch at Brasserie & Atrium.
About the Corinthia Hotel
The Corinthia is the latest incarnation of Budapest’s original Grand Hotel Royal built in 1896. With more than a century worth of history, the Hotel Royal became one of the most famous and most recognized hotels in the world and its halls bore witness to a multitude of events, including one of the first motion picture presentations by the Lumiére brothers, two World Wars, a legendary show starring Josephine Baker and –more recently – serving as the inspiration for a Wes Anderson film. At the time of its inauguration, the spa was one of the most modern in the world and remained so until it was closed in 1944. After years of neglect, both the hotel and the spa were restored to their former glory after being bought and renamed The Corinthia in 2004.
The hotel is just as magnificent as it ever was – a radiant six-story atrium with a grand staircase flanked by golden statues and surrounded by Art Noveau wrought iron balconies. Walkways and halls are lined with fresh flowers and items narrating the hotel’s history and everything is permeated with the glamour of the Jazz Age. Ever since it’s inauguration the Corinthia has been chosen countless times as one of the best and the most beautiful hotels in the world and it’s easy to see why: the setting is just as spectacular as the service.
The Spa at the Corinthia Hotel
After narrowly escaping being turned into a parking lot in the eighties, the Royal Spa survived long enough to be renovated and to once again become one of the best spas in Budapest. The sprawling Art Noveau space is centered around a blue and black mosaic tile pool topped by a stained glass ceiling and surrounded by warmly lit cream and gold walls. Saunas, steam baths, fitness rooms, Jacuzzi and relaxation rooms can be reached through the gallery that surrounds the main pool area. Guests can choose from a multitude of treatments and therapies – from regular massages to Thai and Ayurvedic massages – inspired by traditions from all over the world.
We started our afternoon at The Corinthia by heading directly to the Spa and slipping into fluffy his and hers bathrobes and slippers. The massage therapist led us to the couple’s treatment rooms where we were treated to a fifty-minute couples aromatherapy massage. I loved how after our massage, we were given a list of all the products used during out treatment...more spas need to do this! After we finished our massage, we went to the pool and lounged around for a bit on the chairs while we waited for one of the Jacuzzis to become free. When it did, we wandered over and sat in the turbo jet pool until we got all wrinkly and pruney.
Dining at Brasserie & Atrium
Once our muscles were completely relaxed, we showered, changed and headed to Brasserie & Atrium for what would be one of the best meals we would experience in Budapest. The restaurant is divided into two parts: the Atrium – which is located in the center of the Corinthia’s palatial atrium – and the Brasserie. Even if you’re not going to dine at this restaurant, make sure to visit for a beautiful photo op!
Their seasonal menu has both an à la carte and a tasting menu option featuring Hungarian classics with international influences. We started our meal with their deliciously crafted lemonade before moving on to the wines that were paired with our courses. Our favorites were the pea risotto and the veal filet prepared Kedvessy style. Make sure you order tea or coffee after your meal. It’s quite a presentation and the perfect way to end your meal – let’s just say sprinkles and marshmallows are involved!
For more information about the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, visit their website: