Best hotels in Budapest
Just metres from St Stephen’s Basilica, the Aria successfully packages itself as a luxury boutique hotel with a quirky musical theme. The 49 rooms are colourful and elegantly designed, with an impressive music selection you can put on – and pipe even into the bathrooms. To real feel at home, book in a treatment at the low-lit, atmospheric Harmony Spa and go for a swim in the basement pool. The Sky Note rooftop bar offers stunning views of the basilica.
For the ultimate deluxe stay, book into the Four Seasons Gresham Palace. Many of the 179 rooms enjoy views over the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle, but the real draw here is the architecture. The Gresham Palace building is an art nouveau wonder, with the gorgeous arcaded lounge its glorious centrepiece. If you need to unwind, head to the rooftop spa for a swim in the infinity pool. For fine dining, you don’t even need to leave the building – grab a table at the Kollázs Bistro, or indulge in one of their Herend high teas in the lounge.
Standing resplendent on the Grand Boulevard, this pastel-hued hotel was the original Grand Budapest Hotel (in name as well as spirit). Much of the 19th-century building was damaged during the Second World War, but the façade, the gold-clad ballroom and the luxurious spa are original. The hotel boasts 400 rooms and four fine-dining restaurants, including Bock Bistro, a fusion restaurant blending Hungarian cuisine and Spanish tapas.
The Mystery Hotel is a recent addition to Budapest’s hotel scene, five minutes from Andrássy Avenue. The interior blends luxury with fantasy, with extravagant Persian carpets and classic artworks given a modern twist. The Great Hall, home to the bar and restaurant, features original Egyptian-style frescoes from its masonic days. There’s also a grandiose spa with fountains, sculptures and palms as well as saunas and a whirlpool.
This 11-room boutique hotel is located in a grand townhouse in the Palace District. The building used to house artists’ studios, and each room features art from resident artists and locals. Brody House embraces a rough-luxe aesthetic, with flaking walls stripped back to the brick in places and rooms filled with vintage and designer furniture. Breakfast is available, and there’s an honesty bar in the stylish living area.
This family-owned boutique in the Castle District has 11 stylish yet relatively cheap rooms decked out in stylish vintage furniture. Foodies, take note: Baltazár is renowned for its bistro, grill and bar on the ground floor. From tasty chargrilled steaks to Hungarian wine and an extensive gin selection, you won’t need to stray far to find decent food and drink.
This 100-year-old hotel is most famous for the art nouveau thermal baths next door (guests get a 30 percent discount). There are 234 rooms and suites at the Gellért, and some even have balconies looking on to the Danube. The hotel exudes retro charm, mixing art nouveau architecture with a communist-era social realist makeover. Among the food and drink options, you’ll find the excellent Panoráma restaurant, Gellért brasserie, Gellért Espresso café and Törley bar.
Escape the city for the night at this grand, secluded hotel on Margaret Island, whose 164 classically furnished rooms overlook the surrounding wooded parkland and, on one side, the Danube. An underground corridor connects the Grand Hotel with the thermal baths and wellness centre at Health Spa Resort Margitsziget. Grab a blowout dinner on the terrace of the Széchenyi restaurant or relax in the turn-of-the-century Viktória bar.
Hotel Moments occupies a palatial building on Andrássy Avenue right by the Hungarian State Opera House. The 99 rooms in this four-star hotel are clustered around an elegant wrought-iron courtyard. Guests get free access to the breakfast buffet, complimentary coffee, and tea round the clock in the lounge bar. There’s also a small wellness centre with a gym and aromatic sauna.
Hostels don’t have to be ‘party hostels’ in Budapest. The laid-back Shantee House is located in a residential part of Buda, not far from trendy Bartók Béla Avenue, and is very budget-friendly. There’s a community kitchen, and if you’re someone who loves to sleep outdoors, you can camp in the garden or sleep in a hammock (lockers are available). And if you’d prefer not to share a dorm but still want to save money, you can even book a private ensuite room.
The Palace District in the VIII area earns its name from the smattering of palatial buildings in its vicinity, and in Palazzo Zichy, there’s one you can actually stay in. This 80-room hotel offers modern, stylish comfort in the grand surrounds of a 19th-century mansion. Breakfast is included, and you can also unwind at a small on-site wellness centre. The neighbourhood’s quiet, but the lively nightlife of the VII District is just a short walk away.
After a one-of-a-kind souvenir?
Gift hunting in Budapest doesn’t have to mean lugging home industrial quantities of Hungarian paprika and outsize (though no doubt delightful) works of embroidered folk art. In fact, there are few more diverse places to go shopping – and find pretty much exactly what you’re looking for – than here.