Mystery Hotel Budapest: The hotel designed for likes



One of the first things you’ll notice upon entering Mystery Hotel Budapest is the Aladdin-style magic carpet “floating” above the reception desk.

This is the first sign that there is more to this boutique hotel than meets the eye.

Then there are countless light boxes on the walls that display animated pictures that change several times a day and the elevator, which is partially hidden by velvet curtains.

Depending on which room you’re in, you might find yourself lying against a headboard with a version of Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” where the “girl’s” hands has an iPhone, or a “party girl” interpretation of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” complete with VIP passes to Budapest’s Sziget Festival.

And if you book a visit to the “secret” Pythagoras meeting room, you’ll have to figure out how to open it yourself (hint – there’s an extravagant box involved).

Located in the Terezvóros district of Budapest, the Mystery Hotel is one of the most exciting hotels in the city thanks to the intrigue that lies within its walls.

It is set inside what was once the main headquarters of the symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungarian Freemasons, with films such as “The Da Vinci Code” providing inspiration for its mystical theme.

Although it lacks the dramatic city views and central location of some of Budapest’s more famous hotels, the property, which opened in May 2019, is quickly becoming one of the most Instagram-friendly places to stay in Budapest.

This is certainly not an accident. In fact, hotel designer Zoltan Varo admits he had “the likes” in mind when conceptualizing the property.

“Instagram has really changed the hotel industry,” Varo told CNN Travel. “About 20 years ago, people wanted to go to big names because they felt safe with them.

“The most important thing now is to stand out. Everyone is looking for something special. Social media is essential.

“When a visitor sees something amazing and snaps a picture, it can be shared with the rest of the world in seconds.”

Victoria Bereni, director of business development at Mystery Hotel, says social media has helped drive bookings.

“First impressions are everything,” Bereni says. “There is a lot of competition in Budapest. At first we had some problems with people’s engagement.

“But we’ve had a lot of visitors come here because they’ve seen the pictures on Instagram.”

One of the hotel’s many interesting areas is the Great Hall, which serves as a dining area, a bar, as well as a lobby.

Varro decided to make it the main focus of the building after seeing photographs showing the room’s importance during the 1890s, when Hungarian Freemasons regularly gathered here.

The grand staircase is one of the preserved elements from the old building.

One of the most influential and well-known secret societies, Freemasonry was founded in the UK, but quickly spread to Europe and the rest of the world.

The secular movement models itself on the communities of medieval stonemasons, who used secret words and symbols to recognize each other’s legitimacy.

After the Freemason activities were banned in Hungary in 1920 by the former Republic of Councils and later Minister of the Interior of Hungary, Mihli Dmótar, the building went on to serve as a military hospital.

It was also used by the Hungarian National Guard Association, before returning to Freemasonry use after World War II. But during the communist era it remained the Ministry of Interior until the fall of the regime in 1989.

Needless to say, the building changed considerably during its many different incarnations and its Freemasonry elements were hidden.

“After communism, the room was destroyed,” Varo says. “The Freemason aspects were completely covered up, because no one wanted to talk about it.

“I didn’t want it [the Great Hall] To hide away. This is the heart of the building. ”

Its vaulted ceiling, which has been completely restored, is decorated with beautiful motifs, while the walls are adorned with glittering columns and light boxes.

Although the entire hotel is filled with chandeliers, the largest hangs directly above the marble chessboard floor area in the Great Hall.

At the far end of the room, two circular iron staircases lead up to the gallery, where a private dining area aimed at larger groups can be found.

Illuminated by candles, the grand staircase is one of several elements preserved from the original building, which, along with the main doors, dates to 1896.

You can see the facade elements of the old building and the new building side by side from the sixth floor.

Varro preserved various motifs used in Masonic symbolism around the buildings, with sculptures of a sphinx, a square and a compass.

Even the paintings in the corridors are associated with Freemasonry, some are works of Freemason background, while others are by artists from countries with strong connections to the secular movement.

However, Bereni emphasized that the mystery hotel represents much more than Freemasonry, noting the organization, which has been plagued by conspiracy theories, can have negative connotations for some.

“As much as we’re proud of the history, we can’t make everything about the Freemasons, because they represent different things to different people,” she says.

Some suites include headboards with modern versions of Leonardo da Vinci

There are three different suit styles, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The Doric rooms, which overlook the hotel’s courtyard and Secret Garden Spa, feature English Victorian style and are decorated in various shades of green.

The Ione rooms are based on the upper floors of the hotel and are in a French mansard style, while the Corinthian rooms have Baroque style furnishings, such as burgundy velvet curtains.

Located on the sixth floor, the Atelier Suite is the most unique suite in the building. Designed like a painter’s studio, it features a marble staircase, brick walls, large paintings and dozens of rugs. Even the TV stand takes the form of an art easel.

“The original plan was to keep this room as a storage area, since it only has two small windows,” Varo explains.

“When I decided to make it one of the biggest suits, the owner thought I was crazy. But it’s been very popular.”

The suite is frequently requested for private events, with Italian luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana renting it for private events.

Based in the courtyard, the Secret Garden Day Spa is one of the main features of the hotel.

While following the Great Hall is a tough task, not to mention the Sky Garden rooftop bar, which offers views of the Royal Palace, the hotel spa is another spectacular venue.

Budapest has a number of beautiful thermal baths to choose from, which means any hotel spa here has to be pretty impressive to tempt visitors.

However, Secret Garden Day Spa definitely does not disappoint.

Located in the hotel’s enclosed courtyard, it has the feel of a baroque garden, with dramatic palm trees and a beautiful fountain.

Guests have the option of relaxing on day beds, slipping into the sauna and steam room, or choosing from the many cosmetic, body treatments and massages on offer.

The lighting in the spa is also spectacular, with its courtyard setting, with an array of crystal chandeliers.

“It was a blank space,” says Varo. “I wanted to create something different. I think so [the courtyard] A perfect place for a spa. Budapest is not a very sunny city, but it is always hot.

Its centerpiece is undoubtedly the spectacular whirlpool, which offers a stunning view of the building’s facade.

“We don’t have thermal water here, but we do have it,” Bereni says. “This jacuzzi is very popular on Instagram.”

Mystery Hotel Budapest, 1064 Budapest, Podmaniczky Yutka 45; +36 1 616 6000

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