Early 1970s, Budapest, right in the middle of the Socialist-era at a recently opened five-star hotel, which is a window to the West that many dreamed of. People of every kind turn up here: secret agents, prostitutes, homecoming dissidents, international businessmen and diplomats; the common denominator: they are all suspicious in the eye of the secret service.
The officer of the internal counter intelligence, the crooked comrade Thoman wants to become the Managing Director of the hotel but the Service gives this position to the counterspionage officer, the compliant communist Mrs Gyenes. Thoman wants to continue his corrupt games in the hotel and Mrs Gyenes tries to get rid of Thoman. They both appreciate the childish 21-year-old bellboy Ivan's excellent memory and observational skills and they both would like to use him for their own goals so they both try to turn him into an agent.
Early on Ivan is happy to take on the mission but as the story progresses his initial naivety starts to break, and as he begins to see the true colors of the system, he becomes more critical with it. He starts to sabotage his own work as an agent and by the end, he turns on his control officer. In the process, he comes of age and as he stops being an opportunist, a conformist, he becomes an adult.