Grand Hotel Royal – Budapest, Hungary (English Leather Edition)
150 historic and contemporary photos
Leather bound / gold stamping
155 x 235 mm, 700 g
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Only 25 books of this edition were handbound by the bookbinder.
About this book: The Grand Hotel Royal opened in 1896 as the largest hotel on the continent: 350 rooms, numerous restaurants, a palatial Royal ballroom, telephones in every room, electricity supplying the entire building, 'rising rooms', powered by steam engines and reaching all floors. Next door laid a superb spa. In the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the ‘Royal’ became the melting pot of the world of yesterday. Here Hungarians saw the first;moving Lumire pictures, sipped their first five o'clock high tea; and rubbed shoulders with the international visitors of the great jubilee exhibition of 1896. It was the home to all leading Hungarian artists Surrounded by theatres and close to the Royal Opera House, its guest list includes the greatest dancers, singers and opera divas. Mario del Monaco, Anna Moffo, Gilbert Becaud, James King, Jenõ Heltai, Berczi Karlovszky, József Rippl-Rónai, Vaslav Nijinsky, Cleo de Merode, Max Linder, Valdemar Psilander, Asta Nielsen, Serge Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, Gyula Krúdy, Sándor Bródy, Imre Kálmán, Béla Bartók, Franz Lehár, Zoltan Kodály, Sándor Ferenczi, Paul Abraham, Josephine Baker, Ference Molnár, Alan Bates, Dirk Bogarde and so many others spent a significant moment or an important part of their life at the Royal. In the 1920s Károly Gundel was its feted restaurateur, during the 1960s it became the unofficial ‘academy’ for everybody who wanted to become a successful hotelier. Reopened in 2002, the Grand Hotel Royal is a sparkling star among the grand hotels of Europe. This book accompanies the hotel from its very first day at the height of the glittering Fin-de-siècle over one hundred years into the third millennium.
The man with the sign ‘Corinthia’ awaits me on the platform at Keleti station. He takes my bags and me to the hotel. The doorman opens the car. Arrived . Tamás Ungár, the chief concierge greets from the concierge box, the reception produces my keycard. Checked-in. Back home.
While collecting my breakfast, I read newspapers and e-mails at the business centre, overlooking the lobby. The reception is busy checking guests in and out. A photographer tries to persuade a model to pose for the Hungarian edition of Vogue and a friendly waitress asks me if I’d like some more juice.
There never was a better time to write a book about the Grand Hotel Royal. Hungary has finally returned into the arms of Europe, Budapest is sparkling and shining as it used to a hundred years ago, the hotel has been saved and reopened by Alfred Pisani, the far-sighted owner of Corinthia Hotels, and tourism is booming.
I have chosen a selection of anecdotes and stories, all based on solid facts, to paint a colourful picture of this grand hotel. Noémi Saly, a notable Hungarian writer and expert in hospitality and coffee-house culture, has given me countless lessons in Budapest style, history and anecdotes. Although I am Viennese, I do not speak Hungarian. Noémi’s explanations brought me much closer to the Hungarian sole. I discovered countless similarities. In fact our cities are only 250 km apart. For a notable period of time our two countries shared one government. Our greatest composers, musicians, writers and artists are household names in Hungary as well as in Austria. And so are our greatest hotels.
Let me take you on a journey through the history of the Grand Hotel Royal in Budapest. Let’s go back to the year it all started. To 1896.
May I go ahead?
Grand Hotel Royal Budapest
as part of the series
THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD
(With the help of Hungarian writer Noémi Saly, who provided a deeper insight into the soul and artistic history of the city and the Royal, the elaborate puzzle of Budapest’s premier hotel was finally completed.)
Of course we all thank Alfred Pisani, the founder of the Corinthia Hotel Group, who recognised the enormous value of the ‘sleeping beauty’ Grand Hotel Royal and decided to do the right things to reopen it as the greatest historic hotel of Budapest.
Special thanks to Cornelia Kausch, who, during her days as general manager, felt that this history research project would further enhance the hotel’s great past. We appreciate the similar enthusiasm of Adrian Ellis, her successor, to support this project.
Brigitte Gruber, first director of sales and marketing, suggested the involvement of The Most Famous Hotels in the World® in the first place. Tamás Fazekas, her successor, supported it with his ideas. We must not forget Daniel Szelényi, who was among the first to research the hotel’s rich history.
Personal thanks to executive assistant manager Zoltán Géher and to Diána Dóczi, in charge of PR and marketing.
Thanks in loose order also to: Gábor Flesch, Philippe Derrien, Károly Németh, Frank Xerri de Caro, Baron Joseph De B. Dobronyi, József Rácz, Zoltán Csetnegi, Réka Dömötör, Szabolcs Timku, and last but not least Sándor Farkas.
Historical Research Assistants: Anikó Farkas and Noémi Saly
Photography: Archives of the hotel, Joplin Sinclair, Daniel Cilia and others.
Further photographic material comes mostly from private collections. We do thank Noémi Saly, Tamás Ungár, Zoltán Géher, Paul Lauer, András Gunst, György Kalmár, Tibor Meskál, Pál Antal and the collection of the Hotel Association of Hungary and its general secretary Gábor Lombosi, the Hungarian Museum of Commerce and Catering and Famous Hotels Main Archives, Vienna;
Editors: Carola Augustin and Thomas Cane.
The entire work including its cover, enclosed postcards and bookmarks is subject to copyright laws. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system. Any reproduction of any part of this book without express written permission from THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD will be prosecuted without exception.
Important Note for Publishers and Authors
The contemporary and some of the historic photographic material used in this book can be obtained as digital files of the highest quality. Please contact the Archives of famoushotels.org and request the best possible photographic material for your own publications. We would be delighted to be of help.