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Sumptuous Style at the St George Residence

St George Residence

We are walking along the cobbled streets of the historic Castle District in Buda heading for the chivalrously named St George Residence and the promise of a night in a Baroque house fully restored as a luxury hotel.  It’s a well worn path, as the Fortuna Inn the building was at the heart of Buda society; the place where intellectuals and business men gathered and anyone of importance from archdukes to generals stayed.

A banner depicting St George and the dragon hangs above the entrance. Stepping through the arched gateway I’m immediately taken by the way glass panels have been used to create a reception area with a view straight through to the inner courtyard.

Cafe St George

We are a little early to check in but the receptionist assures us it is no problem and suggests a complimentary glass of warming gluhwein while we wait. It’s served in the unexpectedly exotic surroundings of the cafe. Delicate landscape paintings of cacti, bamboo and birds – a rare form of 18th century Oriental-Hindi motif, we learn later – cover the walls and ceiling; shafts of natural light from the street falling on formal  linen covered tables.  Easy to imagine this space as the Fortuna Coffee House resounding with games of dice and billiards, heated debate and conversation.

St George Hall

More sensual treats are in store as we are shown to our suite. I’ve been hoping we would get to climb the prisitine, white marble staircase leading from the reception area, so the lack of a lift – a restriction imposed by being a listed building – is no inconvenience, rather a chance to get into Baroque character. Three short flights bring us to the first floor where a corridor runs the length of the building. The effect of red painted walls, set between white ceiling and marble floor, well placed pieces of curvy furniture and glowing lights is thoroughly pleasing. At the far end a smaller marble staircase leads to our suite under the eaves.

St George SuiteFunction Room St GeorgeThis is no miserable garret. Ahead of us a fully equipped modern kitchen, and adjacent a giltwood, inlaid table with damask covered chairs, a lovely spacious wardrobe complete with a safe big enough to take a lap top. We wander through the apartment exploring our new domain; writing desk, sitting area, deep comfy sofa, inviting king size bed with stool at foot waiting for a carelessly draped garment and beyond a large bathroom with jacuzzi. Peeping out the small hooded attic windows we look out on the snowy rooftops of Fortuna street on one side and the apartments set around the inner courtyard on the other. It’s a pleasure just to sit and luxuriate in the space and furnishings.

Back in reception we meet up with Kovacs Miklos, the Sales Manager, who takes us on a tour of the hotel. First a look in on the Baroque function rooms to the left of the gate. There are three; a lobby where guests can take refreshments and two further reception rooms all with beautiful, painted stucco decorated ceilings, chandeliers and lusciously draped curtains. Delightful are the white tiled heating stoves that bring to mind huge wedding cakes – trust me, if you are looking for a romantic reception venue, this is it.

Tobacco Room St George

In the wine cellar under the cafe, the St George’s medieval origins are revealed in mortar walls and and brick lined vaults. Restaurant St GeorgeHere the mood is more masculine a small, stylish modern bar complementing the intimate atmosphere of the tobacco room.

Lastly we cross the courtyard for a peek at a couple of the other suites. There are twenty-six in all ranging from 40 -100 square metres, all unique and individually furnished in Baroque or Empire style.

It is late afternoon now but the light is good and we want to go out to photograph the view over the Danube from the Fishermen’s Bastion just a few minutes walk away. Being fairly flat on top, all the attractions on Castle Hill; the Palace, Mathias Church and numerous museums are easy to get to on foot. Indeed walking is the way you get around here, most vehicles being banned to preserverve the labyrinth riddled structure of the hill. Returning to the St George Residence somewhat chilled – you stand around waiting for the light a lot married to a photographer – it’s time to make use of that jacuzzi.

Later, suitably relaxed, we stroll downstairs to eat. The St George is full of surprises, this time Gothic sedilia from the days of knights set the ambience of the restuarant and the waiter draws out high backed, brightly upholstered chairs for us to be seated. On the menu are traditional Hungarian dishes alongside international ones. I opt for a salad with Italian overtones followed by perch-pike (zander) from Lake Balaton accompanied by a refreshing full tasting white wine from the Nagy Somlo region – full marks here for the informative notes on the wine list. To finish we share a strudel with typical fillings of apple, nuts and dense black poppy seeds. It was all good, not fancy but good and the service genuine. The only slight inconvenience, not being able to add the cost to our hotel bill due to a computer problem.

Breakfast the next morning is our only disapointment; served in the cafe, a buffet with a fair spread but seeming a little lacklustre in content and display compared with the high standards and attention to detail we’ve been experiencing.

A taxi to the airport has been arranged for midday, there’s time to pack at leisure and catch up on our emails – an easy task with a fast, reliable (and free) internet connection. I make a coffee, it’s like working at home but better.

As we check out the manager is keen to know how we have found our stay – I can honestly say it has been a joy.

Mirror St George

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