A place where everything is in harmony: Ágnes Wirtz and Albrecht have brought impeccable design, art, philanthropy, and a welcoming atmosphere to the Bagatelle Gardenhouse, a building with a nearly century-old history.
Opened in 2008, Villa Bagatelle has quickly become a favorite among Buda residents for its beautiful building and excellent brunch menu, while the Brótpékség bakery serves the best bread and pastries in the neighborhood. Bagatelle’s founding couple, Ágnes and Albrecht Wirtz took the plunge again a few years ago and completely renovated the villa next door to open a ‘home hotel’.
Historical and contemporary combined in one place
The front door is one of the owners’ greatest points of pride and a reflection of their approach to value preservation. The original solid wooden door has been restored, but only to the extent that it still shows its age—they didn’t want it to look brand new. They also kept the wrought iron above it, which bears the initials of the original owners, Elemér Semmler and his wife, together with the date of construction (1936). Both of them are art enthusiasts, Ágnes is an art historian and also a painter herself, so it was an obvious choice to decorate the walls with paintings by the most important contemporary painters of Hungary.
Each piece has a personal message, and even the little plaques with the names of the rooms are special, as they were painted by Miklós Szüts at the couple’s request. Each of the six rooms (Betű, Rivalda, Rapszódia, Paletta, Babér, Fülemüle [that is Letter, Spotlight, Rhapsody, Palette, Laurel, Nightingale —the Transl.]) has its own character and a corresponding interior. Every corner of the place reflects thoughtfulness and the many tiny personal touches make the place welcoming and homely. The real credit, though, goes to the impeccable taste behind it all, creating one of Budapest’s most stylish places. The façade of the hotel was designed by architects László Benczúr and Miklós Weichinger in an effort to preserve the original forms, while the interiors were reimagined by interior designer Edit Móder to create the optimal combination of form and function.
The garden was designed by Albrecht Wirtz in a way that it shows a different face in every season. “It’s a real oasis here in the city, it’s almost unbelievable that there is a tram running not far from us and here everything is so green. Ágnes is usually more interested in the interior, my area of expertise is more the garden,” says the owner. The green approach is reflected everywhere: they filter their own water, don’t use disposable plastic, and only recycled paper is used. They also make sure to use pieces made by Hungarian designers in the furnishings wherever possible.
“We dedicate our work to the children”
Ágnes and Albrecht Wirtz moved to Hungary from Germany sixteen years ago. They already knew then that they wanted to do charity work and share the wealth they had with those who needed it most. In the end they decided to turn their attention to children in state care and so they set up the Világszép Foundation. Its fate went hand in hand with Villa Bagatelle: on 30 September 2010, on Folk Fairy Tale Day, the foundation was officially launched with a small ceremony at the already established Fairy Center (Meseközpont in Hungarian—the Transl.) in Paloznak, and the next day the bakery was opened in Budapest. For the first three years, they were both equally involved in the two activities, but as both Bagatelle and the foundation grew rapidly, they decided to let Albrecht focus on hospitality and Ágnes on charity work. “We dedicate our work to the children. Together with the public maintainer, we try to help. We are now partnering with five institutions so that through our programs we can provide as much spiritual help as possible to the children living there. We have five main activities: camping—we guarantee all the children in the program a summer camping trip. On weekdays, with the help of our volunteers, we do storytelling in the children’s homes. On weekends we often organize different activities but we also run regular programs on a wide range of subjects from animation to cooking and baking as well as robotics at our center on Hűvösvölgyi Road. And for more than sixty children, we can also provide one-to-one adult mentors who look after them exclusively. We also have our own kindergarten for the youngest children in care. The earlier we can get involved in children’s lives, the better the chance that they will learn to live and thrive despite their traumas. The foundation now has thirty staff members, with around eighty more volunteers. We used to say that we embrace these one hundred and fifty children like a village,” said Ágnes Wirtz. The children’s hands are not let go even after they reach adulthood, they can always come back for help and advice, but the real joy for the foundation’s staff is when former foster children check in to tell about their successes and their lives. And the mentors also follow up with the children once they go home or are adopted.
If you would like to help the Világszépe Foundation, you can find information about donation and volunteering opportunities here.