An insider's guide to Budapest's top boutique hotels, including the best for stylish interiors, rooftop bars, and excellent restaurants, in central Budapest locations close to St Stephen's Basilica, the Opera House and the Castle District.
Prestige Hotel Budapest
The focus of Prestige is its atrium lobby, a glass-topped spot of whitewashed walls and black stone floor with six storeys of wrought-iron balustrades stacked around it. At the centre is a low-hanging chandelier of teardrop crystals, while opposite the reception desk are two glass-sided lifts. It’s a contemporary classic design that’s simple and airy. The 85 rooms are suitably graceful, decorated in cream and gold colours with wood-laminate flooring, and furniture that was apparently purpose-made. Hotel catering is provided through a joint venture with Costes, Hungary’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, who have rented the dining room and established Costes Downtown.
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Aria Hotel Budapest
The location is unbeatable – there are killer views of the domes of St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the hotel is within walking distance of the city’s Opera House. As the name suggests, music is the motif here. A long, black-and-white keyboard carpet unfurls through the entrance to reveal a grand, if a little gaudily decked out, "garden courtyard" and lobby. Violins and ornamental treble clefs hang from light fittings, gaze upwards and you’ll spot cartoons depicting singers ranging from James Brown to Jagger, while the centrepiece is a space-age piano designed by the Hungarian musician Gergely Bogányi. Its rooftop bar is one of the coolest places in Budapest for a cocktail.
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Hotel Moments Budapest
Sitting at the lower end of the boutique-lined Andrássy út, the hotel is well positioned, with St Stephen’s Basilica and the Opera House both a short walk away. The building dates to 1880, and real pride has been taken in its renovation – look up, for instance, to the frescoes in the glass-topped atrium lobby, which are faithful to the style of the period, and took several months to paint. However, alongside the 19th-century features are well-considered contemporary design features – including some pleasing quirks like downlights made from chests of drawers in the breakfast area.
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Parlament is small but very pleasingly formed – indeed, it’s one of the best boutique hotels in the city, with good facilities and imaginative design. And, as the name suggests, it’s well located near the Parliament building. The décor is airy and colourful. The bar, for instance, has an eclectic collection of brightly upholstered armchairs and cow-hide stools, while the breakfast room has the feel of a rustic food market. The 65 bedrooms are impressive, with a distinctly Art Deco feel. There's also a lovely little wellness area, including a whirlpool tub set in a relaxing, green-tiled room, and a sauna.
Read the full review: Hotel Parlament, Budapest
Baltazár is ideally placed for those who want to base themselves in the city’s historic quarter on the Buda side of the river. This hotel is probably best characterised as boho-chic – funky, even quirky in places, but elegant too. The reception area sets the tone, the floor laid with bare boards, a red banquette running the length of one wall, travel trunks serving as coffee tables and a writing desk the place for check-in. The hotel aims to be relaxed and intimate, and it’s an aim achieved. The 11 rooms (including three suites) are each unique in design but share a creative, classy flavour. Its restaurant is top drawer.
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Casati Budapest Hotel
Named after Luisa Casati — an eccentric Italian patroness of the arts during the early 20th century who wore live snakes as jewellery and took walks with a pair of cheetahs — Casati Budapest is a cut above the rest. In places, the stripped brick of the late-18th-century pokes through – most notably in the preserved well, which is the showpiece of the courtyard atrium – but the hotel is otherwise contemporary in style. Bright, primary colours characterise the breakfast area, while guest rooms are divided between four design approaches, all slick of design but comfortable too. The hotel is well situated both for the main tourist centre near the river and the café-bars of Liszt Ferenc tér.
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Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest
Architecture buffs will drool over the building, which is a rare example of the Bauhaus style in Budapest. Emerging from Germany in the years following the First World War, the Bauhaus school aimed at a harmony between design and function; this meant a lack of frills and flourishes, and the Andrassy – dating to 1937 – has the whitewashed ‘boxy’ look typical of Bauhaus buildings. The design in the bedrooms is contemporary, the floors laid with thick, dark carpets and the beds with silver-striped spreads, and the bathrooms adorned with cheerful tiles of yellow and turquoise. It's located on Andrássy út, Budapest’s most elegant boulevard, originally modelled on Paris’s Champs Élysées.
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The décor is nicely done, with an Asian flavour that reflects the tastes of the hotel’s Turkish owner. Rich colours of gold and purple are very much at the fore, and a vine motif makes a regular appearance on chairs, mirror frames and pendant lights. Rooms are compact but comfortable. Buffet breakfast – including hot dishes such as scrambled eggs, sausages and ratatouille – is served in the airy atrium, with its stripped-brick walls and glass roof, and an adjoining, plusher room with gold fretwork and hanging lanterns. The hotel sits on a residential road just inside the Great Boulevard, 200 metres from Nyugati Station.
Read the full review: Marmara Hotel, Budapest
The Palazzo occupies an elegant palace built in 1899 by Count Nándor Zichy, a devoutly religious nobleman who was once imprisoned for writing a political article critical of Habsburg rule. Its façade has high windows embellished with carvings of seashells and garlands and other Rococo details much loved by early-20th-century aristocrats like Zichy. Inside, the overall thrust of the design is slick and modern, but the marriage of the two eras has been managed very sympathetically by the Italian owner. The 80 rooms are nicely laid out, clean-lined and contemporary, with grey laminate flooring, silver fleur-de-lis motifs. It's around a 15-minute walk from tourist favourites like Váci utca and the Parliament building.
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Buda Castle Fashion
The hotel sits on a peaceful street in the Castle District, atop Castle Hill on the Buda side of the river. It is a satisfactory blend of the old and new, evident from the very moment you enter. Above the lobby is a barrel-vaulted brick ceiling typical of the original 15th-century building, while the archway behind reception is now filled with clear glass – very much a modern touch – to give views through to the courtyard garden. The hotel’s colour scheme is neutral, typified by beiges and creams, and this ensures the medieval character is never overpowered by the stamp of the 21st century.
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This boutique hotel occupies a six-floor terraced townhouse and is very nicely located just off a pedestrianised square. While it has features that are characteristic of the original apartment building it occupies, including a spiral stone staircase, the rooms are unashamedly bold and modern in design. There are both industrial touches (metal framework; exposed pipes; open-faced cupboards; concrete-effect floors) and rustic ones such as stools and side tables made from polished sections of tree trunks. The colourful Urban Tiger restaurant serves imaginative takes on Southeast-Asian cuisine, such as shrimp tempura with pumpkin salad and sesame-crusted tuna.
Read the full review: Hotel Rum, Budapest
Pest-Buda – a boutique hotel of just 10 rooms – is jammed full of personality, with industrial-style copper lamps, oak floors and quirky contemporary artworks. It also has a top-quality restaurant. It’s not only characterful, but warm and welcoming. Rooms come in four classes (Courtyard, Deluxe, Suite and Atelier Suite), and have real star quality. There’s Hungarian oak on the floors and limestone in the bathrooms, and an eclectic scattering of modern and historical pictures on the walls.
Read the full review: Pest-Buda, Budapest