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  • Goddard Littlefair mastermind major transformation of the Hilton Hotel, Budapest

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09 / 06 / 2016
Luxury interior designers Goddard Littlefair have completed the first phase of an extensive refurbishment of the Hilton Hotel, Budapest, encompassing the principal public areas - the reception, lounge, lobby bar and executive lounge, along with three sample bedroom treatments and linking corridor areas.

The hotel, which is part of the Danubius Hotels Group, is located on a stunning site at the centre of the Hungarian capital, directly alongside St Matthias Church. The new interior – representing the first full revamp of the hotel since 1977, when it was originally opened – brings a new light and elegant contemporaneity to the common parts via a palette of refined silvers and golds with accent colours, together with dark timber; brass inlays; black and white granite; a wide range of bespoke furniture and fabrics - a hallmark of Goddard Littlefair schemes – as well as a number of stunning art installations, specially- commissioned for the project from local Hungarian artists and specialist maker studios.

‘Budapest is a stunning city and one I have been lucky enough to work in on several occasions’, commented Goddard Littlefair Director and Co-founder Martin Goddard. ‘Being able to work here once again has made this project a real pleasure. It was also very professionally satisfying; it’s rare to get a chance to help accomplish a design transformation on this scale of such a premier European hotel.’

The Hilton Hotel, Budapest is sited on the western, ‘Buda’ side of the Danube, which bisects the city and separates the mainly medieval, hilly ‘Castle Quarter’ of ‘Buda’ from the ‘Pest’ side of the city, where the architecture dates more from the period of the Austro-Hungarian empire, including many fine neo-classical, baroque and art nouveau buildings. The hotel was originally designed and constructed in the late 1970s by the Danubius Hotels & Spa Co, which was then a state-run entity and was built around and partly incorporates both a 13th-century Dominican cloister and the baroque façade of a 16th- century Jesuit College. In 1992, the Danubius Hotels & Spa Co was listed on the Budapest Stock Exchange and it is now a major hospitality specialist operating across the region, with upwards of 20 hotels in Hungary and a portfolio that also includes major hotels in Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as one in London.

‘From a business point of view’, Martin Goddard explained, ‘the existing hotel was mostly used by large tour parties from the States and the Far East and was a popular destination on the conference circuit. The brief was to maintain this strong appeal, but also to appeal to more transient leisure guests, who were increasing in numbers as the appeal of the Buda side of the city continued to grow for a new generation of tourists, thanks to a burgeoning new restaurant scene and a number of boutique hotels.’
The brief to Goddard Littlefair was to redesign the hotel completely, including all public areas (except for the ‘Icon’ restaurant, which had been refurbished just prior to commission). The works were to be phased, so that the hotel could stay open throughout. The first phase is now complete. Phase two, to complete later this spring, is comprised of 136 bedrooms on the north side of the hotel, along with a new separate, lower ground floor entrance for group check-in, whilst a final phase will encompass the ballroom, gym, meeting rooms and the remaining 264 bedrooms on the hotel’s south side, together with the presidential suite.

‘We spent considerable time at the beginning of the project ensuring that we understood both the client vision and the existing and potential customer demographic’ commented Martin Goddard. ‘We knew the client was keen to express strong links to the city itself, so whilst the overall concept and positioning is contemporary classic, with a luxury, layered treatment, we also sought to incorporate the work of local artists and makers throughout to ensure we created a uniquely Budapest feel, integrated with the quality touchpoints that reassure international customers they are in safe Hilton hands.’ 
Photos: Gareth Gardner 
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