One of Four Seasons’ most strategic historic luxury hotels is undoubtedly Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest. In 1906 Gresham Palace, designed by local architect Sigmund Quittner, opened here, at the south side of the Danube’s Chain Bridge – it was named for its owner, Gresham Life Assurance. After surviving three tumultuous conflicts, WWI and WWII and the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, it was briefly headquarters of the Red Army. Today, owned by Oman’s sovereign wealth fund, it is, says the gal, the pinnacle of old- and new-luxury. Take Kollazs, its feel-good restaurant that wraps round from the lobby, on Szechenyi Istvan Terrace, round to Zrínyi Utca side street.
This long L-shaped space offers lots of different types of seating, including a proper bar area. Local big-business comes in through that side entrance, to avoid being seen ‘going into a hotel’. Young people come in for pastries and macaroons from the brightly-lit patisserie at the restaurant’s main entrance. Ah, young people. Four Seasons is, universally, going all-out to show it is not stuffy, and it is just right for millennials. The lovely Fanni Bakos, a local bright spark who left Assouline and Dior to come and work here, is producing videos aimed at influencing the under-30s (she is star of the one shown below).
Interestingly, both the Parisian GM of this 179-room hotel, Yves Giacometti, and I chose the salmon with pea purée for our quick lunch that day. It looked exquisite, and I loved the semi-set purée beneath (that seemed to be the ideal middle of the day meal in high summer). We talked about how well the Hungarian Government is disposed to business, doing all it can to help incoming investment. It is boosting movie production – there are two studios, and they are pretty busy. One of the latest results is Fallen, based on Lauren Kate’s novel – it is now set for release September this year. But, even though it has Joely Richardson in it, it surely cannot have the same authentic appeal as the lovely hotel-made video, below.