Hungary is a good investment, said Dubai-based Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, speaking at the first Hotel Investment Conference CEE and Caucasus (HOTCO), January 31st, 2017 – read more about this packed-out conference, tomorrow. He was speaking at Budapest’s most established luxury hotel, the 349-room Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, in which there has been masses of serious investment – the chairman of the hotel’s owning board, for instance, is Swiss (it is currently trialling showrooms for its new-look). The hotel also benefits from important Hungarian investment. Its fabulously successful Nobu restaurant is, says the gal, owned and run by movie producer Andy Vaina, a tycoon thanks to the licences he holds for five of the 11 casinos in Hungary.
I was dining in Nobu with Stephan Interthal, the German GM of this lovely hotel who loves Budapest so much that he has been here for two spells and has now bought an apartment, in perpetuity. The restaurant was packed (was that a top global actor at the corner table?). I loved my salmon tartare and, as always, Nobu’s black miso cod lived up to its reputation. It was fascinating to try a fine local wine, a Sauska Cuvée 7 Villány 2011 from the vineyard owned by Christian and Andrea Sauska, who moved back here after a lifetime in architectural lighting in the USA.
This hotel is the Gastronomic Quarter of Downtown Budapest, says Stephan Interthal. He brands all his hotel’s restaurants independently, be they Blue Fox Bar, ES Bisztró, ES Deli or the Living Room, which has a music sommelier at its brunches every Saturday and Sunday. Summer-long, nearly all of the people staying at Kempinski Hotel Corvinus are on holiday, many of them pre- or post-Danube river cruises: the rest of the year, about half of the rooms are taken up by business people. They enjoy the foods, the good Technogym and spa, and, at all times, the absolutely charming staff – I love the way the Lady In Red lobby hostess here has Hungarian stitching on her red jacket.
Yes there is definitely a Hungarian flavour to this hotel – I loved the way that in ES Bistro, where I had the absolutely gorgeous burrata, tomato and avocado above, blackboard walls and columns are decorated, with chalk, by managers. More national flavour: end suite 860, for instance, has beautiful carved wood chests, and delicately-painted china table lamps with matching lampshades. I just hope these elements will be retained as the luxury hotel moves on to its next design stage. Alex Kravitz is doing the new rooms, and I was lucky enough to be introduced to a show room. This upgrade says at last two things to me. Firstly it is always necessary to refresh, and to upgrade before all those vacationing guests start saying a product looks old, or at least shabby. Next, it confirms that there is foreign investment still coming in to beautiful Budapest. NOW SEE A VIDEO OF THIS LOVELY HOTEL