Go bold or go home  – a sneak peek inside W Budapest

Ahead of its opening next month, Hotel Designs got a sneak peek inside W Budapest, which is set to showcase W Hotels’ bold, locally-inspired design in Hungary’s capital this summer…

W Budapest suite with gold details and blue accents

W Hotels is on a mission this summer to ‘redefine the hospitality scene in Budapest’ with the opening of W Budapest.

Ahead of its anticipated arrival next month, W Budapest unveils the physical, historical and social inspirations for the compelling design of the hotel. Firstly, the 151-key hotel is sheltered in the iconic Drechsler Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Andrássy Avenue. The ornate building has been both carefully restored and transformed by London-based interior design studio Bowler James Brindley and Hungary-based studio Bánáti + Hartvig. Both studios came together and drew inspiration from the palace’s rich cultural history and multiple identities as a café, social hub and Hungarian State Ballet Academy.

W Budapest corridor in hotel suite

Image credit: Marriott International

Hot on the heels of the opening of W Rome in 2021, W Budapest showcases the continued evolution of W Hotels design direction, by which we mean creating a modern, inviting, unexpected and sophisticated setting for the next generation of luxury travellers. The soon-to-open hotel will offer stylish guestrooms and suites, including the exceptional Extreme WOW – W’s take on the Presidential Suite, as well as a destination bar, restaurant, W Lounge and AWAY Spa – all influenced by Budapest’s rich history, creativity and diversity.

“The arrival of W Hotels in Budapest will offer an unexpected, captivating hotel experience and an exciting next chapter for the iconic Drechsler Palace,” said Jenni Benzaquen, Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa Brand Portfolio at Marriott International. “As the W Hotels brand continues to evolve, we have leaned into sophisticated design principles while playing up the balance between modernity, and as always with W Hotels – a playful touch.”

A tale of two cities, the design of the hotel brings together the two sides of the city – Buda and Pest – bridging together the rich heritage of both while effortlessly playing with the juxtaposition. This has inspired a ‘second skin’ design narrative for the new hotel, which creates an intriguing interplay between materials in every location. From soft layering and alluring oversized archways to the use of metallic meshing to create depth and intrigue in the bedrooms, the second skin aesthetic creates spaces that reveal new depths each time you experience them.

W Budapest close up of bed with gold headboard and blue cushion

Image credit: Marriott International

Throughout the process of transforming Drechsler Palace into W Budapest, the iconic building provided many precious features that the new design embraces and celebrates. The enchanting inner courtyard, at the heart of the building, is newly enclosed by a delicate, veil-like glass roof to protect the space from the elements, creating an intimate courtyard. The fifth floor’s unique wooden-centric design is sympathetic to the Palace’s original roof design that has been restored. Finally, a speakeasy breathes new life into the Palace’s underground bar, paying homage to the eclectic characters and socialites that frequented the space in its past life.

The Houdini-inspired illusion comes to life at W Budapest’s AWAY SPA, where mirrors and water features create a feeling of never-ending space and serenity. Hidden doors lead to secret spaces, where guests can seek solace from the bustling city and enjoy moments of calm and relaxation. A lounge takes centre stage, inspired by the thermal baths that Budapest is famed for, shrouded in traditional tiles and gold mesh, fusing the traditional historic side of the city with the modernity of W Hotels in one aesthetic.

W Budapest black and white tiled bathroom

Image credit: Marriott International

The Loire Valley inspired French Renaissance architectural aesthetic will feature throughout the reimagined hotel, mirroring icons from the city such as the Hungarian State Opera House, the Széchenyi Baths and neighbouring buildings on Andrássy Avenue. This grand aesthetic has been playfully modernised within the hotel, which features stained glass and a rich colour palette of green, coral and deep blues, alongside a contemporary twist on Zsolnay tiles, jewellery inspired light fittings and decorative motifs.

“When we started the project, we were presented with a rich feast of inspirations from which the various narratives were born. One of which was Hungary’s famous exports, Harry Houdini, and his life’s work inspired our ‘grand illusion’ design narrative. We have used mirrors in creative ways throughout the hotel to create optical illusions on ceilings, walls and floors, allowing Harry Houdini’s legacy to live on through W Budapest’s illusionary aesthetic,” said Bowler James Brindley. “Zsa Zsa Gabor, another celebrated Hungarian who was at the vanguard of introducing European sophistication to Hollywood in the 1940s, has also been celebrated through playful touches of retro glamour.”

For more than two centuries ballet has been an integral part of Hungary’s cultural scene, with the hotel once housing the State Ballet Institute and the Hungarian Dance Academy. The interior subtly celebrates the iconic dance through soft pink hues, curved lines, and impressive lighting installations, inspired by the graceful fluidity of the dance. The ‘ballet etoile’ aesthetic is celebrated in the all-black Extreme WOW suite and all-white WOW suite, taking inspiration from the famous ballet Swan Lake.

Budapest offers an array of distinctive activities, mixing those that have been passed down through generations with new burgeoning trends to create a vibrant and eclectic social scene. In particular, the hotel nods to the city’s famous love of chess throughout its ‘Budapest Gambit’ inspired design. Chequer board patterns make unexpected appearances, including monochrome tiled marble flooring, a chess board inspired ceiling mirror in the W Lounge, guestrooms that feature black and white tiled walls and recesses, and lamps that emulate chess pieces to bring soft lighting throughout the hotel. This is complemented by odes to Budapest’s café culture where locals start with coffee and stay for cocktails with dining areas in Nightingale, the hotel’s destination restaurant, mixing blue tones with metallic accents and café-style seating to create a sense of intimacy.

Artwork throughout the hotel that sparks conversations and connections has been created by Adam Ellis Studio. Blending both interiors and ambiance, original wallpapers and framed pieces portray modern elegance, daring details and Hungarian influences. From a tapestry trio of Hungarian mythological creatures made from grass cloth to a welcome area dressed in green and gold metallic artwork detailing Houdini’s famed aviary of tropical birds, suspended from a chandelier chain; the hotel’s walls offer fresh perspectives that ignite curiosity.

W Budapest contemporary pendent cascading from the ceiling in suite next to bed

Image credit: Marriott International

The extreme WOW and WOW suites are adorned in a bespoke wallpaper that transports you to the adjacent Hungarian Opera House, visible from both rooms. Inspired by its grand ceiling fresco, the immersive space depicts scenes of Greek gods playing musical instruments and enjoying revelry, accented with delicate metallic touches. This modern feel extends into the suite bathrooms, where sea creatures shimmer through delicate aquatic botanicals. These ornate and intricate works are complemented by static framed art pieces in a monochrome palette, depicting all the accoutrements for ‘a night at the theatre’.

The Fantastic suites and guestrooms, meanwhile, embrace the hotel’s Budapest Gambit design with colourful abstract artwork celebrating the city’s national game, alongside bold historical dream-like visions of the city.

Main image credit: Marriott International