Metropol Palace Hotel
The 60s aesthetic and Famous Guests

Words: Sasha Iordanov
Photos: Junona Slavina

In the fall of 2023, the lobby bar of the Hotel «Metropol» began serving a special coffee set called the “Archive ritual”. Coffee is served on a silver tray in vintage coffee cups, accompanied by a portion of the renowned Srneća leđa cake, adorned with cinnamon sticks and flowers. The set is named after the «Archive» restaurant, which once operated at the hotel, and whose famous terrace overlooking Little Tašmajdan was frequented by the bohemian crowd of that time.

History

Ordering the “Archive” ritual is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the atmosphere and traditions of Belgrade in the mid-20th century, when one of the most modern and luxurious hotels of Socialist Yugoslavia opened on Boulevard of Liberation (in 1997, it was restored to its historical name, Boulevard of King Alexander).

Interestingly, the originally famous modernist building was not intended to be a hotel at all. In 1950, the renowned architect Đorđe Ristić designed it as the House of the Central Committee of the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia (Dom Centralnog komiteta Narodne omladine Jugoslavije). However, it soon became clear that the gigantic project covering an area of ​​50,000 square meters was too large for an organization whose significance was greatly undermined with the beginning of the country’s extensive democratization. The redevelopment of the space and the creation of the hotel were entrusted to Dragiša Brašovan — another great architect, a master of European modernism, who not only partially redesigned the building but also personally supervised the design of all rooms down to the smallest details.

The hotel opened in 1957 and at that time became one of the most elegant and modern hotels in the city. Countless celebrities and politicians stayed here, from Che Guevara and Louis Armstrong to Brigitte Bardot, Vittorio De Sica, and Bobby Fischer. During the Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, 30 heads of state and more than 3000 guests attended a reception at the «Metropol». In the rooms of the «Metropol», Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, and Robert De Niro prepared for filming, and the legendary Hitchcock celebrated the success of his films here. By the way, the restaurant was one of the hotel’s hallmarks. The chefs of the «Metropol», like the waiters, participated in the organization of most state receptions, and food from here was delivered to the White Palace and the Royal Palace in Dedinje for all important state dinners.

Nowadays

The modern history of the «Metropol» began in 2012 when the hotel reopened after extensive but careful reconstruction that lasted several years. The project was led by architect Misko Trpkovic. Since the building is an architectural landmark, key elements of both the exterior design and interior decoration were preserved, including the famous stained glass windows adorning the central staircase, the mosaic panel made of dozens of types of dark and light wood from 1956, and the «Bathing Girl» fountain welcoming guests at the central entrance.

The updated room design was curated by the London-based MKV design bureau: dark wood, designer furniture in the spirit of elegant classicism, minimalist decor — everything was chosen in line with the building’s aesthetics.

After the reconstruction, the hotel opened a spa center with a large swimming pool, a gym, saunas, massage and relaxation areas. And on the top floor, The Twenty Two panoramic restaurant opened, recommended by the Michelin guide for its subtle combination of modern culinary techniques and Serbian traditions. Moreover, the restaurant terrace offers one of the most breathtaking views of the city.

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