Kempinski, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton, The Dorchester Collection, Four Seasons,
Travelodge, Sofitel, … what do they have in common? Yes, they’re my favourite hotel chains and yes, largely above my budget – but the answer you’re looking for is that they are some of the finest luxury hotel brands in the travel industry, renowned for sublime comfort and incredible customer service. Naturally, I was buzzing when the opportunity arose to stay at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest.
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest Review
Lacking the historic architecture and perhaps charm of oldtown Budapest, the Kempinski is a striking – although, some may say cold – 80s art-deco take on a business hotel, glass and stone adorning the outside fascia. You’d perhaps, therefore, assume that the hotel is a little stale and soulless, not particularly at one with its surroundings – and you’d perhaps be onto something.
Location of the Kempinski Corvinus Budapest
The Kempinski Corvinus Budapest is slap bang in the middle of Budapest, right by Erzsébet Square and minutes away from four main metro lines, making key attractions like Heroes’ Square, Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion easily accessible. It’s just a street away from the Danube river and the surrounding streets are pedestrianised, making it a safe and pleasant area to walk around even at late at night. You’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere more convenient.
Kempinski Corvinus Budapest style and character
Despite its corporate exterior, the Kempinski Corvinus Budapest feels more relaxed internally, although unlike the room décor, don’t expect it to reflect 19th century Budapest. Chic and modern, the Kempinski Corvinus Budapest public areas are light and airy, the ground floor is modelled on a promenade, street-like with several shops, cafés and restaurants.
As you’ll see shortly however, there is a real disconnect between what you see on the ground floor and the guest rooms, the latter a little less loved and in need of some urgent review. I always think it’s a real shame when there isn’t a natural flow to a supposed luxury hotel and it feels like the Kempinski has been updated – or perhaps, not updated – in stages, so the exterior, public areas and rooms all feel very disjointed.
I think it’s a fair comment that the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus room décor is perhaps a little dated; whilst clean and bright, the fixtures were a little tired and would certainly benefit from an overhaul, looking a good ten years out of date That said, the style does at least nod to the local Hungarian capital surroundings, something I am a big fan of in the world of bland copy-and-paste hotel chains and isn’t really reflected anywhere else.
The furniture was definitely on the scruffy-side, plenty of scuffs and scrapes which was rather disappointing for a five-star hotel. Still, the bed and mattress was very comfortable and resulted in a comfortable night sleep; Mrs Gist didn’t have to jab me in the ribs for tossing and turning in my sleep and keeping her awake, so that was a plus. Little wins matter.
The bathroom was a redeeming feature of the room, although wasn’t anything truly spectacular when compared against other five-star properties, marble flooring, his and her robes, a large well-lit mirror along with separate bath and shower being the main features of this art-deco-turn-slightly-eighties bathroom. Radical, man.
Fortunately, the Kempinski Budapest excels in customer service; the team behind the front desk, restaurants, spa and at guest services are exceptional. Despite the disappointing style to the hotel, the character is definitely its people, attentive and focused on its guests, exactly as one would expect from a five-star establishment.
Facilities at the Kempinski Corvinus Budapest
The ground floor features a chilled continental brasserie, ÉS Bisztró, one of those trendy places with chalkboards and coffee I’ve never heard of; it offers an excellent breakfast buffet though, with most breakfast food-groups under the sun, available for €32pp. Perhaps not the cheapest of options, but I guess part and parcel of a five-star stay.
The Kempinski is also home to swanky Japenese fusion chain Nobu, which is renouned for fabulous food if that’s your thing, whilst a deli offers pastries and light bites, next door to Blue Fox, a cocktail bar to relax and unwind in.
Disapointingly, both the gym and the swimming pool are the size of a postage stamp, somewhat of a letdown of a hotel of this perceived status and grandure, although I suspect the location plays into this. The gym had a few machines and the pool area clean, ample for the time-pressed business traveller but nothing to write home about for the leisure guest.
The Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest is perfectly located right at the heart of Budapest, its clean, comfortable and the staff are fantastic. However, it’s worth remembering that this is perhaps more aimed at business travellers and consequently, it doesn’t perhaps have the same personable charm as some other hotels nearby, the swimming pool is on the smaller side and facilities aren’t geared towards the leisure traveller.
It is true that the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest is a little dated in parts and would benefit from a refit to ensure standards are consistent from the public areas through to rooms, probably where there is the biggest letdown of all, but overall it is a solid stay, mainly due to its service; definitely one of the best hotels in Budapest.