Adjacent to the Erzsebet city boulevard, numerous palaces flowered at the turn of the 20th century. The owners competed over whose palace was more extravagant. Architects thus had their work cut out. Among the architectural landmarks, one stood out – the palace home to the New York Life Insurance Company, designed by the renowned architect Alajos Hauszmann. Opened in 1894, it closed its door after a century. The palace was reinvigorated in 2006 when Hotel Boscolo opened. A decade later, Varde Partners took over the management and sold the hotel to the French real-estate company Covivo. They then handed over the hotel to the NH hotel chain, which began rebranding and renovating the hotel. Rekindling the spirit of the 19th century, the hotel raised the prominence of the New York Café. Hotel Anantara is not your regular city hotel and represents fierce competition for the top-tier hotels in Budapest and the region.
The public traffic network in Budapest is booming, and access from Hotel Anantara is excellent as frequent connections await just around the corner (tram, bus and subway). Budapest’s city centre is not too far either; a stroll through the legendary District VII will take you to the heart of town. Most foreign guests opt to arrive via Budapest Airport, which offers solid connections. Several bus lines connect the city and the airport. Despite the repercussions of the corona crisis, the airport offers good flight connections with the American market. The country’s low-cost airline, Wizzair, ensures visitors can arrive from more exotic destinations. Last but not least, the river cruises in Budapest transport many guests to the hotel. Guests arriving by car need not worry about parking, as a spacious parking house by NH Collections awaits near the hotel.
COLD STARTER - Architecture and aesthetics
The hotel is not dubbed palace for no reason. Hotel Anantara is, in fact, a former palace designed by Alajos Hauszmann, an illustrious architect, in the golden era of Budapest. He drew inspiration from Italian Renaissance, Baroque design, and motifs from nature and folklore. During his study years, he travelled across Italy and discovered his profound love for Renaissance. The imposing palace catches the eye with ornate and lavish details. At the same time, statues and frescos of angels designed by Károly Senyei embellishing the cafe leave a lasting impression. We were mesmerised by the lamps held by gargoyles around the palace. The rooms look over a grandiose covered atrium that functions as the elegant core of the hotel. Instead of Baroque decorations, guests will find refined lines with antique-like designs in the atrium. Such a mix comprises the form Hauszmann incorporated in his eclectic architecture. He sparked an original and ever-surprising design out of historical architectural styles. The spirit of his concept has stood the test of time and continues to bewilder guests and admirers of the city’s historical heritage.
WARM ENTRÉE - The staff and the culinary experience
Professionality and genuine kindness displayed by the personnel leave an excellent first and last impression. Possibly the most dazzling historical breakfast room in Budapest is named Deep Water Breakfast Room. A staircase connects the room with the eminent New York Café. Guests in both halls can enjoy live piano music. Five-star hotels place tremendous emphasis on world-class breakfast. Guests expect this from every hotel, regardless of category, so hotels that underestimate the importance of breakfast should think twice. Hotel Anantara luckily offers a fantastic breakfast experience, from the pastry and variety of bread to local dishes and exotic food. We were greatly impressed by the staff and service. The youthful and incredibly attentive staff saw every empty plate and glass and immediately changed it, along with the cutlery, when needed. It seems comfort is prioritised ahead of sustainability in the hotel. Celebrity chef Andras Wolf and his world-class team ensure the dishes are impeccable. Their twist on international dishes was impressive, as was their take on typical Hungarian dishes. The exceptional culinary experience makes the stay even more memorable. You can enjoy the cuisine at your events, as the team offers catering service.
MAIN COURSE – The meetings offering at the hotel
The magnificent room features a high ceiling and classical equipment that befits such a historical building. A tiny and impactful detail embellishes the walls: birds painted in a murmuration that pays tribute to the Asian roots of the Anantara hotel chain. The prestigious and spacious bed delights with magical black lighting. Everything is within arm’s reach, and two elegant loungers invite guests to read or chat while sitting on them. The colour spectre ranges from dark wenge furniture to beige flooring. A spacious writing desk boasts everything a business guest may want, while the classic bathroom exudes timeless elegance with white marble tiles on the walls and rose granite on the floor. Among a slew of five-star details, we were glad to see a Nespresso coffee machine, glasses in various sizes, an elegant writing set, a lily in the bathroom and a digitalised list of services the hotel offers. Moreover, the turn-down service functioned flawlessly. All of this is included even in the most basic room!
Unlike the eclectic cafe or breakfast room, the conference centre on the first floor is very modern and minimalistic. It boasts plenty of daylight and can be altered to host either exhibitions or gala dinners. During breaks, attendees can have a coffee while admiring the atrium, nicknamed the green island or City Eden, for its awe-inspiring green decoration. With 13 halls, Anantara Hotel is among the largest meeting hotels in the city. The largest within the conference centre, the Rome Hall, can capacitate up to 600 attendees in a theatre setting. The atrium and other spots within the hotel seem ideal for receptions and smaller events. Undoubtedly, the hotel is one of the most Instagrammable meeting hotels in the region. On top of that, the management caters to the demanding needs of event organisers. They also offer one-off incentive experiences such as travelling around Budapest with a 59-year-old Volkswagen Bulli, visiting the Agard Distillery and many more extraordinary incentive ideas.
DESSERT – The extras
A welcome addition to the city hotel is the spa centre stretching 500 square metres, where guests can relax in saunas, pools and massage rooms. They can try signature treatments such as the acclaimed Hungarian mud therapy. During our visit, the spa centre was unfortunately closed for maintenance work.
FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES
In such a remarkable hotel, guests will hardly encounter any unpleasant surprises. However, the deposit practice is something that we occasionally experience in hotels owned by large hotel chains. Upon arrival, the deposit is blocked as a guarantee. However, it is not returned during check-out but only after a few days. We could not comprehend why such an outdated practice is still in use.
TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES
The staff is utterly professional and genuinely cares about the guests and their wellbeing. As a result, our first and last impression was fantastic. Their smiles, recommendations and questions regarding our stay were greatly appreciated.
We did not come across any groundbreaking green endeavours apart from the classic messages regarding turn-down service. Anantara is included in the Green Growth 2050 project, recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY
Anantara New York Palace Budapest is possibly the most prestigious, traditional and legendary hotel in Budapest that meets high expectations. That is no easy feat when guests expect only the best of a hotel. During the latest renovation, the designers followed the concept of evolving the existing story set by the Boscolo hotel chain. Although having countless advantages, we deem the staff to be the hotel’s greatest asset. The conference centre is inspiring and modern, edging out its city competition. We have no doubt that the hotel is one of the most comfortable and sophisticated in New Europe, pushing the envelope of luxury city meeting hotels. The hotel passed the demanding challenge of transitioning from the old Boscolo Hotel to the new institution with flying colours. Even though it has a few drawbacks, the management can solve them in a blink of an eye. The excellent hotel service of this refined gem outshines the astounding architectural design. Hats off to Anantara Budapest.
FINAL GRADE: 4.98 GOLD City Meeting Hotel
GOLD final score from 4.81 to 5.00
SILVER final score from 4.61 to 4.80
BRONZE final score from 4.41 to 4.60