The magnificent Drechsler Palace, a 140-year-old neo-Renaissance building in the heart of Budapest, once housed a grand café and the Hungarian State Ballet Academy before sitting vacant for 15 years. Thanks to a meticulous restoration by Bowler James Brindley and Bánáti + Hartvig, the historic structure is now home to the latest outpost of W Hotels. Besides modernizing the interiors, the renovation aimed to honor the building’s heritage and the surrounding architectural context of Andrássy Avenue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The result is a fusion of playful modernity and historic glamour, with the palace now featuring 151 rooms, a restaurant, lounge, spa, and speakeasy.
The two firms approached the restoration with careful consideration for the palace’s original features, implementing “second skin” interventions to preserve its fabric, including reinstating the palace’s original entrances and creating a vibrant glass-enclosed “living room” in the inner courtyard. The vaulted basement spa underwent a transformation inspired by Harry Houdini, utilizing mirror illusions creating a visual effect of boundless space. The guest rooms, meanwhile, showcase a captivating blend of turquoise wall paneling, gold-toned screens, and chess-themed details paying homage to Hungary’s rich connection to the game.