Dreams really do come true…
It was just over a week before Christmas and Mr S and I sat in the lounge at Heathrow Airport drinking our customary glass of champagne in anticipation for boarding the plane for our final trip of the year. Knowing I’d always wanted to visit Budapest and stay in the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, Mr S had arranged for us to spend a festive weekend in the luxury hotel in the capital of Hungary.
And that was all I knew… Ok maybe that is quite a lot…but we’re talking about me. Little Miss type-A, totally controlling about travel and creating spreadsheets to allocate every minute of time in order to combat any chance of missing out. Well there in the airport, my relaxed and spontaneous husband presented to me our trip plan. Not only had he done a spreadsheet but the plan was presented in a plastic folder with full details of all the restaurants that we would be visiting and the sites that we would see.
I started to cry…he’d planned the perfect trip to a city I’d always wanted to visit, even booking the restaurants that I’d hoped for. He smiled knowingly. The boy had done good. I can’t wait to tell you all about this magical trip, that had me feeling like a princess at every second. But right now I want to start with telling you about the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, a place that really was like stepping into a fairy tale.
I’ve not been on many festive holidays but I honestly can’t imagine at city hotel that’s more perfect over Christmas.
Enter through those wrought iron doors and into the most glamorous art-nouveau lobby. Glittering chandeliers, high glass ceilings, shimmering mosaic floor tiles and grand columns and arches flanking the main reception desk. Originally built between 1904-1906 and designed by architect Zsigmond Quittner, The Gresham hosted aristocrats whilst the London-based Gresham Life Assurance Company sat on the first floor. War tore the palace apart leaving much of it in ruin and disrepair until the building was acquired by the Four Seasons in 1998 and $110 million dollars was invested into restoring it.
Employing some of the best in the business, designer Miklós Szentkirályi and his team of skilled craftsman and artisans set about restoring the palace based on research into how it was originally built. Through the hard work of team, the hotel retains it’s status as a historical landmark but it is every bit a modern luxurious hotel. Known to be the best in the city, and indeed the whole country.
A hotel that has pulled out all the stops for its festive decor. In terms of location the hotel couldn’t be better, it’s right be the iconic Chain Bridge on the Pest side and it was an easy walk to all the restaurants that Mr S had booked and to the Christmas markets too.
Our River-View Park Suite (actually the size of a junior suite) was absolutely gorgeous. With an open plan bedroom and seating area in stunning neutral tones. Everything felt very fresh and new with classic and elegant decor.
A well stocked mini bar is always a good sign and not only was it full of high end drinks, but there were plenty of sweet treats. And not only that, every evening delicious home made pastries were delivered, one night there was even a gingerbread biscuit in the shape of the hotel.
A sizeable bathrobe came complete with snuggly robes and the hotel’s signature Omorovicza products…
But let me show you the best bit…
Waking up to this view from our Juliet balconies…
Or watching it glitter by night…
From the River View Park Suite there is a sweeping panoramic view that takes in the River Danube, the Chain Bridge, the Buda Hills, the Royal Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion – some of the most famous sights of the city.
KOLLÁZS Brasserie & Bar is the hotel’s main restaurant and we had our breakfast there every day from the high quality buffet or from the à la carte menu. Toasted bagels with smoked salmon and whipped butter for me, sausage, egg and bacon for Mr S.
The restaurant itself is inspired by the 1920’s and is absolutely gorgeous…
Particularly the stain-glass bar and the stunning floor tiles. We returned to the restaurant for lunch there too, and with a name meaning ‘collage’ KOLLÁZS Brasserie & Bar is a fusion of different ideas – both luxurious yet casual, serving food both modern and traditional that fuses Hungarian and French dishes from the Rotisserie and the Kitchen.
Service was excellent and our waiter was very knowledgeable and there is very good selection of Hungarian wines. With options from their lists of specials, Hungarian favourites or simple grills, Mr S and I chose a few dishes to warm our cockles from the chilly temperatures outside. Both opting for bouillabaisse to start with salmon for my main course and wiener Schnitzel with roast potatoes for Mr S.
Another option for a drink is the Bar and Lobby Lounge in the Hotel’s historic Páva Udvar (Peacock Passage) where I had a glass of bubbles and Mr S had the BEST boozy hot chocolate on the first night. They’re also serious about their martinis here plus there’s a list of Hungarian specials.
We didn’t have much time to use the spa but the signature products are from Omorovicza, a Budapest based brand that harnesses the effects of Hungary’s mineral-rich thermal waters combined with science of brand’s Healing Concentrate delivery system. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the facials or body treatments here but I have at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane and they always leave my skin feeling amazing.
The spa also features seven treatment rooms, a sauna, rooms for men and women and this utterly gorgeous rooftop an infinity-edge swimming pool and a whirlpool. There’s a state of the art gym right next to it too.
It has to be said that Mr S did an absolutely incredible job in planning our trip but I couldn’t end this review with mentioning the incredible hotel concierge. It was with their advice that Mr S pieced together the perfect itinerary and they were totally flexible with further bookings we made or requested changes. The attention to detail and level of service always characterises a Four Seasons hotel for me and of course the Gresham Palace is no exception.
Thank you to Mr S for organising a festive fairytale in a dream hotel!
PIN FOR LATER:
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
Széchenyi István tér 5