The episodes of a hotel stay that matter the most – topping even sleep or room quality – are the ones that have to do with restaurant service and culinary experience. What we eat and where we eat it – whether for breakfast or at any other time of day, as private guests or event attendees – is a matter of tremendous significance. We remember the things that did not appeal to us and talk about those that did long after we leave and grant our continued patronage to the places that meet or exceed our expectations.
It is with this in mind that the Danubius Hotel Helia, following a recently completed complex renovation project, has renamed its restaurant The Episode. As names go, the choice is an expressive one, serving both to draw in, and compel to stay; to arouse curiosity, and incite to exploration; to reflect something that we all long for: episodes that take us away from everyday life, fill us with new experiences, and give us something pleasant to remember.
What scene lies in store, then, at the Helia’s new Episode? An extension of the atmosphere of its trendy Yellow Bistro&Bar? One that exploits the beauty of the nearby Danube Waterfront? How are the numerous hotel guests and major conference attendees handled? And in general, what role does the restaurant play in hotel life? What clientele are permitted to dine there?
Fortunately, though the questions are many, we need not look far for answers. All it takes is a step or two from the cheerful, radiantly dressed Yellow Bistro&Bar into the freshly renovated lobby for The Episode’s atmosphere to begin providing them. The world that presents itself from behind the venue’s elegant glass doors is the creation of Spanish interior designer Nathalie Rottenburg, who has carried the strikingly dynamic, yet clean colours and forms of the lobby artfully over into the spacious restaurant. The result is the very pinnacle of functionality, coupled with eye-catching decor, intriguing lighting fixtures, and a specially designed room divider. Light floods in through the enormous windows, and while the traffic outside hums pleasantly, indoors there is only palpable tranquillity. In bright, comfortable, exquisite spaces like these, dining becomes a true experience.
The first thing we notice as we enter are the great variety of tables and chairs, and indeed, whether our plan is for a quick breakfast, a casual, chatty dinner, or a modern business lunch, the restaurant offers the appropriate seating for every occasion. The trendy high tables equipped with electrical outlets invite use by patrons wishing to charge their devices or work on tablets or laptops while they eat. The comfortable sofas and armchairs are perfect for those seeking casual conversation. The majority of space, however, is occupied by classic tables for two or four, as it is these that best serve the crowds that attend the hotel’s breakfast buffets and events. In total, The Episode can accommodate up to 308 guests simultaneously.
After the seating, our attention falls next to a curtain of yellow beads that partitions the room, rendering its spaces more intimate without closing them in. The result is that parts of the interior feel elegantly, translucently protected, making them perfect for cosy moments and private encounters.
The most distinctive components of the interior are its buffet islands, claimed by Chef Zoltán Tóth to “know more than you may think”. Visible here are the latest in technological solutions, such as buffet tables and show kitchen hot-and-cold display cases that function at temperatures from -4 to +140 degrees, to highlight just one of many. The entire restaurant merits the description “user-friendly” from the perspective of diners and servers alike.
Having looked our fill at the variously formed lamps, the deep green moss nestled inside them, and the modern decorations adorning the walls, we then step out onto the terrace. Guests who have not done so before will doubtless find their eyes widen and a smile play across their lips upon first sight of this oasis – its graceful pergolas, classic garden furniture, and intermittent view of the Danube. Also on view are a green grass-covered walkway, the blue stripe of the Danube River, and – directly opposite – Budapest’s own Margaret Island. Perhaps from now on we’ll be taking our breakfast here, as well, or catching a summer live music event or two: both feature among the hotel’s plans for the future.
The Episode at Danubius Hotel Helia awaits diners with open doors – and not just those visiting the hotel for an event or vacation. All are welcome to drop by for breakfast on the terrace or a favourite dish from the restaurant’s à la carte menu!