In 1880 the London Gresham Life Assurance Company bought the Nako House (the original neo-classic palace built in 1827) as its foreign headquarters on this site but then, in 1903, decided to demolish the Nako House and build a new venue from the ground up. The new building was a monument to Sir Thomas Gresham, the 16th century financier to Queen Elizabeth I. Gresham Palace is considered one of the most glamorous buildings in Pest, and one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the world.
The ground floor and first floor hosted the Gresham Company’s offices, the Gresham Café and a finishing school for daughters of the aristocracy called “English Young Ladies”. The second and third floors were comprised of a collection of luxury apartments where many of the country’s elite took rooms. Government minister Count Gyula Andrássy, close friend of Elizabeth Queen of Hungary, took rooms in the Gresham Palace, and his brother Géza was the chairman of the board of the Gresham Company’s Hungarian subsidiary.
Kollazs Brasserie & Bar
Following years of war and occupation by the Russians and terrible disrepair in the 1990s Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts became the management company for Gresham Palace in agreement with the National Board for the Protection of Historic Monuments (OMVH) that allowed the careful restoration of ceramics, arcade, and stained glass windows on all floors.
Today the hotel offers a delightful spa on the top floor with a pool, where treatments include use of their signature products, and the cocktail lounge in the lobby is a delightful respite after touring. Guests enjoy signature cocktails with names like Pretty Petals, made of Ketel One Vodka, rose water, lemon, egg white, and absinthe infused with hibiscus or a Kollázs Classic Cherry Soup Daiquiri cocktail. They also make a perfect Cosmopolitan served with wonderful little hors d’oeurve to savor while listening to a live pianist before dinner.
Cocktails in the Lobby Lounge
The Kollázs Brasserie & Bar is a contemporary European brasserie in a landmark Budapest location, overlooking the Chain Bridge and the Danube River. The Hungarian word for “collage,” Kollázs highlights creative combinations in all aspects of the Magyar dining experience. It is a warm atmosphere where the staff are dedicated to providing a memorable experience, and do just that.
Appetizers to be enjoyed include tastes like Foie Gras Terrine with rhubarb compote and elderflower jelly. Soups are amazing and the beef consomme with Morel mushrooms and beef tongue is a must. Main courses include wonderful fish selections, lamb, venison, beef cheek goulash (my favorite), as well as duck, home made sausage, beef tenderloin, and rib-eye steak. Salad, caramelized steamed cabbage, macaroni cheese gratin, vegetable skewers and truffle mashed potatoes are a few sides to be enjoyed.
Gresham Palace Peacock Entrance
The signature Sea Bass Baked In Sea Salt (For 2 People) served with a green salad and fresh vegetables was simply outstanding. The fish is baked in a thick layer of salt, and then completely cleaned at the table to be served with a delicious warm sauce of oil and peppers. This was one of the most unusual and delicious dinners I have ever experienced.
Our sinful ending dessert was deep fried strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries, kirsch and strawberry ice cream. Dinner wines selected for us from their exceptional wine list included Grof Buttler, EGRI Chardonnay, 2013, Hungarian and Markrurt Kadarka 2015 Szekszard. Also featured on their extensive wine list are Barta, Late Harvest Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary, 2010 Lenkey, Édes Szamorodni, Tokaj, Hungary, 2007 Oremus, 5 Puttonyos Aszú, Tokaj, Hungary, 2006. For Reservations: +36 (1) 268-6000.
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
Széchenyi István tér 5-6.
Tel. +36 (1) 268-6000 Fax. +36 (1) 268-5000
Bonnie Carroll has been a food/travel/lifestyle writer since 1983. She is the founder & publisher of Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News (http://www.lifebitesews.com), and does travel and food reporting on KZSB1290 radio, she also contributes to a variety of national and international travel/lifestyle publications. Contact her at email@example.com.