Storytelling Suites

Storytelling Suites

Storytelling Suites

to relay the Kempinski Corvinus experience in an artistic way.

A good work of art will stay with us long after we are no longer physically in its presence. A painting, drawing or sculpture can become a focal point defining all the other experiences of a singular journey. This is why the practice of patronship and collection that Kempinski Hotel Corvinus has represented from its first opening in Budapest is so vital today. With over 1500 pieces of art in its collection, it has ventured well beyond the purpose of decorating its halls and walls. Besides active patronship of local artists, Kempinski has gone the extra mile beyond a hotel service, presenting the best pieces of its collection in a unique experience — framed.

This has always been art’s aim and essence: to elevate the viewer from their everydays into the world created by the artist. To be transported into an imaginary reality, which has the power to change our perception. This is the message behind the five Corvinus Art Collection Suites, the same experience and journey presented in these five short stories written for us by some of the best contemporary authors in Hungarian literature. We invited these authors to spend some time and make themselves at home in these suites, and now we extend this invitation to you, the reader, to come on a very special journey, take a look behind the doors, immerse yourself in the stories and destinies unfolding from these works of art.   The result of this extraordinary creative process is now available in Storytelling Suites.


Suite, Suite, Guest Room, On-Site


Benedek Totth - Where It is Always Spring

She’s standing at the window of a seventh-story suite. The din of the outside world filters in faintly, as if it were transmitting from another world. White hot gondola lights from the Ferris wheel illuminate the room. Her shadow on the wall like a black monochrome. She watches the rain-soaked silent city, her first time here in many long years. Once it had been her home, but all that remains is a feeling. It had been spring when she was last here. It is spring now. The time between the two spring seasons feels like an eternity, and a single fleeting moment. She had never talked to anyone about it. The words are there, but she can’t voice them.

The wind picks up, and raindrops streak the windows in choppy diagonals, like breath on a very cold day. Yet there’s bustle in the square below, muted people laughing, muted cars gliding, trees swinging mutely in the breeze. A soft, comforting quiet.

Her eyes follow a yellow taxi cab. It pulls up to park before the hotel. A man gets out from the back seat. As the cab drives away, he looks up at the building. His gaze seems to pierce the window. It makes her shudder, even knowing that the seamless windows only show a giant Ferris wheel’s reflection. She wasn’t yet eighteen when she first modeled for a portrait, and still she’s not comfortable with men’s intrusive gazes.

Her feet sink into the pile carpeting, fleece popping up between her toes. She holds her palms against the cold windowpane. Wanting to touch the city, the rain clouds, the dome of the Basilica. She goes to fetch the thick white bathrobe, and puts it on. The smooth feel of the fabric calms her down, makes her feel safe.

She’d left everything behind to leap into the unknown, with no idea what lay beyond. Then it seemed that happiness awaited her on the far side of the world. Everything worked out for her, as they say. Yet something was lost when she left here. Sometimes it felt comforting to think it was the right decision after all, because had she stayed, she would have missed out on all that luck.

It was her husband’s idea to travel. He said it wouldn’t do to see her so sad. So it wasn’t such a secret sadness after all. When he first talked about the trip, she got upset and resisted, perhaps too intensely. She ended up settling for spending Easter here together.

Her real reason for being sad was one she kept to herself. But now for the first time, she felt strong enough to face that man and look him in the eye. Only then can she put the past behind her.

„How was it,” she asks.

Softly, the door opens. Her husband enters the room, wearing a white bathrobe, arriving from the sauna. He flashes her a kind smile. For a moment that stretches awfully long, she can’t bear to return the smile. She just looks at her husband, wishing she could tell him to stop worrying, that it’ll all be fine. But she can’t speak. Then he steps up and puts his arms around her.

„You should try it,” he says.

„When I get back,” she smiles at him.

„Alright,” he says, „I’ll be right here.”

Then she gets dressed, puts on make-up, and turns to leave. Her hand’s on the door handle when she suddenly stops and turns back. The man doesn’t notice, he’s absorbed in the menu, about to order room service, famished. She smiles, then heads out into the hall, quietly pulling the door closed behind her. She takes the elevator. In the mirror, her figure is multiplied in infinite reflections. She gets out in the lobby. The receptionist shows her to the taxi waiting out front. As they drive off, she looks up at the giant Ferris wheel, feeling giddy.

It’s past midnight when she gets back to the hotel. Carrying a painting wrapped in brown paper, she breezes through the lobby. The elevator takes her to the seventh floor, where she sneaks into the suite without a sound. She takes the painting and hangs it on the wall, then gets into bed beside her husband. He’s snoozing peacefully, chest rising and falling steadily. She snuggles up to him, and feels happiness engulf her. It’s been years since she felt so light. Certain that everything’s going to be okay.

Then she dreams, a first in a long time. In her dream, she steps inside the painting and undresses. She will stay there forever on the wall of that seventh-story suite, where it is always spring.


Miscellaneous, Miscellaneous


Anna Terék - Lamplight


I’m looking at his back as he turns to the window, watching evening set in and the lights of the Citadella. The street bustles below, and from our suite window it looks as if life carried on just fine without us down there, like the world or Budapest never missed us for a beat. The lights are dwindling, the last rays of sunlight slide back down the buildings’ walls onto the sidewalk. You can see all the way to the Danube, the river glistening as it washes the heart of the city from all the weekday grime.

My heart feels tranquil now, it’s Saturday, evening is all but here, and I sip my coffee on the couch, seeing his back and his profile as he watches over the town and unremittingly waits for evening. He is silent, I am silent, despite the thoughts crawling around inside me. When we settled into the room, we talked a lot: I told him about my grandparents, my mother, my father - I didn’t understand it myself, how of all things it was their stories that came into my mind. The suite smells faintly of coffee, and the light itself has a hint of latte to it. My hand’s warmed by the porcelain cup, I brew a stiff espresso, and my stomach’s relaxing into it. As I wait for the coffee to dribble from the machine, I smooth the dresser’s carved pattern over with a stray finger. It’s like you could feel out the past. As if a carving could spell out bygone times and all that the wood had lived through, before a strong hand carved these patterns into it.

There was that summer I laid down on the rug every evening and left the lights off, just watching the lights receding from the room. Everything was quiet and motionless, I laid on the rug taking deep breaths, imagining what the room was like without me in it, when I wasn’t home. The chair stood undisturbed, and the table, and on it a book, the lamp out, and the window allowing the shadows to come creeping in.

I leave the lights off now and lay down on the soft carpet to watch his back, and the side of his face, and then the room. It’s quiet. It’s quiet inside me too.

I’d spent too much time on the road these last few months. Cramming clothes into suitcases, rushing to unpack in strange hotel rooms, tossing and turning in strange beds all night, airport coffee, running to catch that transfer, always taking off, always landing, but ultimately failing to arrive anywhere. If you’re on the road enough, it turns into a perpetual in-between, without ever arriving or finding your way home.

Formal dress and comfortable couch regardless, I lie on the carpet and watch the sculptures atop the carved dresser. Their metallic muscles flex, and they spill light onto the softly patterned carpet that seems to drink it right in. My eyes wander to the painting in the twilight, and I take in the distant blue mountains, her row of pearls and the faintly verdant roses in her hair and hands, and her gaze so full of tranquil anticipation, or perhaps yearning. Beside her the display cabinet is lined in proud porcelains, and they too trickle with light, attracting my eyes. I go up real close to look at the delicate porcelain butterfly, the intertwining ducks, and the saucers painted with delicate flowers. All this reminds me of my grandmother, especially the yearning look of the lady with the roses.

My grandmother was an odd person, and when I was little I often thought she was sulky, when she was merely lost in her thoughts. Her eyes, too, were always filled with yearning.

My grandmother also traveled a lot, moving house and changing city many times in her long life. She moved to the sea to follow my grandfather when they were newlyweds, and he was transferred to a medical practice in Montenegro. She got on the train all alone and arrived in a country where she didn’t even speak the language, but she ended up building a home there. Then they moved to the prairie, a dusty smalltown where they had to start everything over from scratch. Everywhere she went my grandmother ended up making a home, she fought and pulled her own weight, and to what extent she contributed to changing the world or bringing it to order may be anyone’s guess. Yet wherever her home base was, she enveloped her family in love, taking care of everyone, and even if she couldn’t always find what was needed, she could still build a home for her husband and children.

My grandmother had a thing for Herendi chinaware. She had a beautiful dining set with a butterfly motif, and at big family dinners she put on, when all her kids and their kids were seated and she’d bring out the butterfly china set, plates and cups, to serve the food in. My cousins and I would help set the table, and Grandma never seemed to worry we might drop a plate and smash that intricate Herendi porcelain. I believe that’s what made those plates special to me: they had the feel of her trusting us to take care of them, because we knew they were special to her. We try to take care of the delicate moments of our lives, but it’s no use carrying them around inside our hearts everywhere we go when we don’t end up arriving anywhere.

I go to the desk and switch on the Herendi lamp, so the room suddenly floods with a glowing, cozy yellow light, which always brings to mind my grandmother’s house. We spent many nights at her place when I was a child, and whenever I slept at her house I would watch the yellow glow of the old table lamp struggling against the darkness, splashing over the table as my gran sat darning socks at its light, or reading a book, or just watching my own light-bathed, smiling face until I fell fast asleep.

I stand at the window and we watch the city lights together while the Liberty Statue on top of the Citadella holds up the sky. It’s good standing together in the darkness. The light of the table lamp seems to be getting stronger, the desk and the painting of the lady with black hair all awash in yellow light. I finally turn a light on, and the switch I flip puts a spotlight on the painting of the lady with the roses. I step up to observe her face, its look of longing. I’m looking to find myself in her, to find my past and my grandmother’s smile, because a smile is what she has on her face, a promise of the present as well as the future, and gradually, I smile with her.

Then I draw the bedroom curtains and sit at the makeup table, observing my own face and smile before looking at his smile as I see it mirrored when he stands behind me. As I lie on the bed and close my eyes in the lamplight, I can almost smell my grandmother, and I place my pearl necklace on the nightstand, yellow light, golden evening; then I stretch out on the bed. Here at last it feels like coming home.

Corvinus Art Collection Suites, Suite, Guest Room, On-Site


Imre Bartók - Jester

Glad you made it here. But before you ask anything, there’s something I have to tell you. There’s nothing that I know, except perhaps the fact that I know nothing. But you look familiar, yes, I think I know your face, in fact, I can see right through you. They say my smile isn’t genuine, and I’m more of a melancholy type. They say, and I’ll admit as much, my smile is only taken at face value by children, and they’re also the only ones to believe that glee could be pictured this way, even as my mottled heart overflows with grief. What could be further from the truth? Whoever knows about forms is exempt from sorrow. Whoever knows the shapes and forms of city and body is beyond all woe. I’m not saying I know anything at all, it’s not knowledge as such, I simply became familiar with the city and myself, walking these streets, offering a curious child a rattle, ice cream to the women, and shackles to their husbands. They laugh, I smile, and everyone’s happy. My Parisian friends – not that I have friends, they’re quite imaginary -, so these friends from Paris wrote me a letter on cubism. Apparently you can slice up an image into bits. Apparently, the whole world’s a great butcherblock. They say you can split time into seconds, and space into tiny but distinct blocks, like firewood, in fact even human figures can be hacked into a multitude of mutually reflecting mirror planes. At the center of this cubist labyrinth, I duck and hope and wait for you to find me. A cute young herald stands at the labyrinth gateway, waiting, and you can even ask for a ball of yarn, a nice little bundle, trail it along and see if it helps you find a way out. All the walls are mirrors, and there I am waiting for you at the center of this maze, a mirror myself, although different from all the rest, reflecting an image of you such as you have never seen. My face is a musical rapture, remember? Childhood’s own melody echoed, a memory that never had a present tense. I know nothing, only that I know you and see your secrets. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone, I don’t need to, when all of it is written on my face from this point on. My face is the music of your joy, all that’s left of your bygone wonder and awe. You see it in my eyes, don’t you? We don’t know nothing, but nothing knows all about us. We came to this city to walk, and laugh, hand a kid a ball with a whisper: this is the world. I know there’s plenty you want to tell me, that’s what I’m here for, so now that you’ve found me, don’t hold back, talk. Don’t get disappointed if I’m not there for you, I can still hear your voice loud and clear. I’m not sorry, and you can’t make me sorry, no matter how hard you might try, though I might yet put a smile on your face. You know, for my Parisian friends’ sake. Look at the colors I’m wearing, it’s all for you. We haven’t even started the show and so much has happened already. You’ve come such a long way. Perhaps you might rest a while. I know nothing about you, nobody told me you’d be coming, and yet you look so familiar. I bet you have secrets. Don’t be afraid, they’ll all be safe with me. Sit down, relax. No, don’t sit down yet. Look out the window. You see that inquisitive child, that woman, her husband? They’re my family. Do you see what I see? Do I look sad to you? How could I be sad in this city, how could anyone be down when we’ve found one another? Sit down, lie back, stretch your tired limbs. Lie comfortably. Sleep, I can tell you could use some. Sleep, and dream something for me, something happy, if it’s not too much trouble.


Corvinus Art Collection Suite, Suite, Guest Room, On-Site


Anna Mécs - A walk under Intense Light

It was an unusual morning for early spring, the sun already high at dawn. He sat up in bed, bathing his face in the light that flooded through the threadbare blinds. His wife was sleeping peacefully, her dreams undisturbed by the light on her face and skin, as if her eyelids kept her safe from the outside world like gates of iron. He shuffled out softly to the living room, where Táltos sat at the front door with a pleading look. He donned his gray jacket and could only hope they’d be back before his wife woke up.

They followed the usual routine. They turned left at the old front gate, and from there he could rely on Táltos without a second thought. Passing the dentist’s office, they took a right at the shoemaker’s store. The sun didn’t budge an inch, as if time were standing still. He yawned and looked at the balding mountain tops, only now noticing they were just like the bald heads he’d watch at church of those sitting in the pew before him when the preaching got too tedious. Only rarely would he consider that he might present the same sight to anyone sitting behind him. Mountains encircled the small town, which found shelter in a valley, so that the sun was always later to rise and earlier to set. This seemed to lend an easy familiarity to the place, though all the colors were toned darker.

He kept an eye on the cobblestones under his feet, always just the one his foot was about to land on. He remembered his wife stumbling across these stones in her dressy shoes. And he thought about their theater visits, her beautiful red dress he had fallen in love with from day one. The only shadow that fell across this adoration was that he wanted to keep the sight to himself and keep those feelings from ever welling up in anyone else. Envy, he muttered under his breath, jealousy, shaking his head, strict in self-judgement for any trace of a sinful sentiment.

Lifting his gaze from the cobblestones ever so slightly, he first caught a sight of Táltos’s behind, and only by looking further up could he elevate his line of sight to a clearer view of a square they had arrived at, one that was off their usual early morning beat. As the outlines of the little square lit up before his eyes, he found himself facing the theater building. He shook his head gently at Táltos, muttering bad dog, to which the dog sidled up and sat down at his feet. It eyed its master apologetically, then turned, and he too turned to where the dog was looking. He saw a woman in front of the theater; she had a beautiful red dress on. He looked on, enchanted, and was about to walk up to her when he saw that she was not alone, that a dark-dressed man was holding her in his arms, and she returned his embrace, so they stood cleaved to one another and motionless. They never seemed to notice that evening had dawned into a new day, and an unusually bright new dawn at that, making every dust mote and drifting idea plainly visible. He felt a lump in his throat as he watched the embracing lovers. The dog poked his limply hanging hand with its nose before setting off at a quick pace. He shook his head, but the couple just stood there stockstill. He didn’t want to intrude on them by staring like that, so he took off after Táltos when he heard the tolling of bells, bing-bong, bing-bong, his feet colliding with pavement like a bell ringing out, bing-bong, bing-bong, and as he lengthened his stride, the ground under his feet rang out louder and louder. They would usually be having breakfast with his wife when the bells sounded. He was flummoxed about what had just happened here, how long were they dawdling in that square, where had the time gone? Sweating, he arrived at the gate. Táltos stopped beside him, tongue hanging out. He ran up the stairs to the first floor, knees aching, taking the steps two at a time, the dog on his heels. Even in the hallway he could tell he was already too late. His wife’s resonantly incoherent screaming. He rushed into the apartment, and took the woman in his arms, but she only screamed louder, her whole body a rigid rebuff. This prompted him to clasp her to himself even harder, It’s me, he whispered, dearest love, though he knew by now she barely understood a word. Perhaps it was his smell, or the familiar voice, perhaps even just the close proximity of another human body, the rhythm of his racing heart, but in a few more minutes she relaxed pliantly in his arms. He sat her down at the dining table and prepared breakfast.


Presidential Suite, Suite, Guest Room, On-Site


Rita Halász - Zoom


There’s no mistaking the woman I see, it’s me, but I’m not sure what age. Only I know, full well, but I’m playing my mother’s old game here. Cut three minutes from the present. Any three minutes, anytime, it really makes no difference, any that comes to mind. Imagine watching yourself in that scene ten years before, imagine how you might interpret what you see, and what conclusions you might draw. Five years, ten years, twenty years back. Pick a time. I pretend to see myself from fifteen years ago as I’m sitting on this couch flipping through a Henri-Cartier Bresson catalog. Fifteen years back, András and I had gotten married, and were just back from our honeymoon. That’s my vantage point.

Zoom in.

Faint horizontal creases cross my forehead, and two deeper vertical lines between my eyebrows, one broader furrow beneath my eyes, and a faint one that extends outward from the lower eyelids. Not so bad. I might be thirty-five or so. My hair wound in a loose haystack bun on top, like it usually is. No earrings, but pierced holes are still visible on the lobes, not quite closed up yet. Let’s go to the back. My hair, I can see now, is dyed, only slightly exposed at the roots but you can still tell. So I’m one of those dye-job women now. I used to be all about natural looks, and ignoring public expectations. I flip through the catalog page by page, stopping to look at certain pictures, taking my phone out to shoot a pic. So we’ll have photo-phones, that’s neat, very practical. My hands, however, look older, veiny. I might be forty, perhaps even older. My boobs look bigger, tighter. Did I get those done? Me, who swore never to succumb to the knife? But then I also said I wouldn’t dye my hair.

Where am I? Let’s pull back. Elegant interior, afternoon sunlight pouring in the apartment window. No TV blare, no music. I still go for quiet. What am I doing here? Am I alone? Where’s András? Let’s see a close-up of my hand. Wedding ring still on. Good. Let’s pan full circle. Men’s bag on the couch. Must be his. It’s all too tidy looking, too clean. A hotel. Maybe a foreign business trip. András made the big time, and brought me along. Why can’t I be the success story? Maybe I brought us here, but then that would mean my dad got his way. Legal career instead of art. Pull back. Look out the window. Somewhere in Europe. This could even be Budapest, the street looks familiar, those houses, trees, vaguely homelike, except for the Ferris wheel there. But this is Budapest, I can see the Basilica from here, even the dome of the Parliament. So Budapest got a giant wheel too, like the London Eye. We took a ride on that with András on our honeymoon, that’s how we found out he’s scared of heights; he just sat real still hiding his face in his hands, I patted his back. Have we got any kids? Apparently I’m not browsing through their pictures on my phone, but that’s not much to go on. If I’m forty here, they would be teenagers. Two teenage girls, glad to have their parents out of the house, like we’re glad to take a break from their teenage angst.

Finally, I get up at last. I’m going up to the big desk, to look at the bronze statue beside the window. It’s an apple core. I gently feel out the apple’s curve, then the bite marks on its robust heart. Adam and Eve’s, a last memento of paradise lost. Will I be the kind of person reminded of original sin when I see this, or will my thoughts take an entirely different direction?

Well, how do you like it? A male voice. Not András. A man in a bathrobe emerges from the bathroom. Tall, blonde, pushing forty. Bespectacled. Is this my lover? What else could he be? I go up to him, kiss his lips, give him a hug. No passionate lipwrestling, no sex. If he’s my lover, it’s a long standing arrangement. But who knows what I might have witnessed an hour before. I’m digging this sculpture, I tell him. I didn’t mean the sculpture, he says. I know, but I really like having it here. I like your paintings a lot better, he says. So my father didn’t win after all, I’m no lawyer, I’m a painter. And this too, he fondles my belly. My belly. Now that I notice it. And the breasts. I didn’t get a boob job, I’m pregnant! But where’s András? Zoom in on the hand. That’s not my wedding band, it’s got a stone in it. We always wanted to keep everything simple with András. Wedding with just the two witnesses, white summer dress, plain wedding band. So we must be through with András, and this is my new husband, I’m dyeing my hair, there’s a stone in my wedding ring and I’m pregnant at over forty. How did all this happen?

Well come on, let’s take another look! The man, my husband and father of my unborn child, puts his arm around me as I hold my belly, and we walk over to the bedroom, stopping to look at a blue painting. Stand right there, let me take a photo, he says, and I stop beside the painting, look into the camera, turn my head slightly to the left and smile. Did I paint that? My paintings used to be all dark, figurative, unsmiling women wearing heavy makeup, lonely girls staring far into space, hints of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, dreary color palette. Is my hair okay? It’s fine. Do I need to touch it up? No really, you’re great, it’s spontaneous. What do I do with my hands? Cross your arms. Isn’t that kind of aloof? Then hold your belly. But isn’t that too pregnant? Well, but you are pregnant, aren’t you? Yeah, but I don’t have to spell it out for a painting like that. I won’t show your hands then, okay?

The scene disperses, three minutes are up. I’m eating an apple, my husband has his arm around me. We watch the night lights of Budapest.