The New York Café in Budapest is known as “the most beautiful café in the world” but it almost didn’t survive past the communist era. Situated in the five-star Boscolo Budapest Hotel, the cafe was originally built in 1894 for Hungary’s elite poets, journalists and writers. The staff of the famous periodical, The Nyugat, held their meetings in the café for years. The original architect, Alajos Hauszmann, created the building to reflect eclectic style from the Italian Renaissance. Outside, 16 gargoyle fauns hold lamps in their hands to guard the windows and bronze statues illustrate El Asmodai, an ancient symbol for coffee and meditation. Venetian crystal chandeliers made by contemporary Hungarian artists reflect light throughout the building.
The café started to go downhill during WWI and was then permanently closed in the early 1940s at the beginning of WWII. Bombings in Budapest in 1944-45 damaged the building and ruined much of the architecture. In 1954 it reopened under the name, Hungaria, but attracted communist yes-men rather than literary geniuses. During a heated protest in 1956, a Russian tank bulldozed into the café. In 2001 The Boscolo Group revived the hotel and the café reopened in 2006.
In October the hotel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary with a Grand Ball and the International Gastronomy Conference where the world’s most notable bakers and chefs will prepare their desserts in honor of the New York Café.