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Where to Stay in Budapest: Best Areas & Hotels, 2018

Budapest, Hungary is a beautiful, often overlooked destination that offers visitors great value for their travel budget. Comprised of two main sections, Buda and Pest, the city is separated by the Danube river. Its position on the river makes it a popular embarkation and debarkation point for Danube river cruises. Popular areas to stay include the Castle District, with its historic buildings and museums, or you might prefer Theresa Town, with its grand boulevards. The Downtown area, on the Pest side, includes the city's financial district, along with great shopping.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Erzsebet Square
Erzsebet Square
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Visitors to Budapest might experience reverse sticker shock when it comes to hotel rooms. As one of the less popular European tourist destinations, the city's luxury hotels are priced much lower than their counterparts in London, Paris, or North America. Luxury brands like the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton are priced like what you might expect to see for a Hilton or W property. The Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace has the Danube right outside its front door. In fact, the city's iconic Chain Bridge leads you right to the hotel. The building is an Art Nouveau masterpiece, built in 1906 as an office and apartment building. As you would expect, the views are spectacular, the location is perfect, the accommodations are luxurious, and the service is warm and deeply personal.

The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest is another relative bargain, with rates normally under $300 per night. Centrally located on Erzsebet Square, you can walk everywhere within the historic core of the city. The large public park is also used for interesting local fairs and events, especially around holidays. Some of the rooms and suites overlook the giant Budapest Eye Ferris wheel, located right in front of the hotel. Club Level rooms offer access to the Ritz-Carlton Club, which serves a delicious selection of food and beverages throughout the day.

The Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest is a great luxury option, priced more like a mid-range hotel. Perfectly and appropriately located in what's called the Gastronomic Quarter, the hotel has the only Nobu in Central Europe. Aside from sushi at Nobu, the hotel's ES Bisztro has an amazing selection of Austrian, Hungarian, and Austro-Hungarian dishes. Like the Ritz-Carlton, the Kempinski is also on Erzsebet Square. This hotel is a modern building, constructed as the Kempinski within the last 20 years, so the rooms are quite large. Shoppers will love being able to walk out of the hotel and be right on Vaci street, a pedestrian-only street with the city's best shopping and stores from most luxury brands.

Where to Stay: Mid-Range

Buda Castle in the evening
Buda Castle in the evening
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Given the relatively low pricing of all hotels in Budapest, there are some great options in the mid-range category that offer a lot for what they charge. The Corinthia Hotel Budapest provides a guest experience that would cost twice or even three times the price in most other cities. This is a true grand hotel, built on the city's Grand Boulevard at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1896). Restored to five-star standards, it's again one of the city's largest and most popular hotels. The beautiful (and expensive) spa has also been restored and retains period details and materials. Executive-level rooms offer access to the Executive Lounge, which provides a full breakfast, drinks throughout the day, and light snack food service from late afternoon until 10pm.

The Philippe Starck-designed Iberostar Grand Hotel Budapest makes the guest experience special from the moment you arrive, with fresh juices and water offered when checking in. Centrally located in the Downtown area on Freedom Square, it's only a brief walk to St. Stephen's Basilica and the Danube. The Spanish-owned luxury boutique hotel has some unique amenities, like pillow and aroma menus, allowing you to choose the type of pillow you want and how you want your room to smell. There's a small spa, a large fitness center, and free Wi-Fi.

The Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge, as its name implies, is right near the iconic structure. The large hotel offers the chain's usual service and style with a French flair. Be sure to request a river-view room as some face the other direction. Wi-Fi is free, and room service is available all day and night. Service is especially on-point, although the popular hotel can be crowded. It's right on the Danube, also across from the castle.

The Budapest Marriott Hotel has freshly updated rooms that all, even the basic ones, face the Danube. The riverside hotel is right across from Buda Castle, and these reasonably priced rooms come with luxury amenities, like 24-hour room service and several restaurants. There's a spa, large swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, and an extensive breakfast buffet is included in most room rates.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge
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Clean, safe budget hotel rooms can be found throughout the city, and basic rooms with a private bathroom at new properties go for well under $100 per night. The ibis Budapest Heroes Square is located in the Downtown area, within easy walking distance to many of the city's monuments and across the street from a large park and the Fine Arts museum. ibis properties are always clean, cheap, well-managed, and have new, although basic furniture (think Ikea). The central location, close to trams and transportation, can mean some street noise; request a room on a higher floor for a quieter experience. Breakfast is included with most room rates, but quite basic, and Wi-Fi is also complementary.

A unique budget choice that doesn't sacrifice location for price is the OnRiver Hotels - Grand Jules Boat Hotel. Like the name implies, this hotel is a boat, permanently moored on the river. Rooms are compact, but beautifully designed and finished. It's right next to Margit bridge, which leads to Margit Island, like a mini Central Park. It's great for walking, running, and other outdoor activities. The caring staff speaks excellent English, which can be rare at smaller budget properties.

The Bo33 Hotel Family & Suites is a great budget choice for foodies as it's right near the New York Cafe, known to serve the best beef goulash (a spicy stew) in Budapest. Guests love the free, included breakfast, which includes a chocolate fountain. There's even a small gym and fitness room on the roof level, with some amazing views of the city (great for selfies). It's about a 20-minute walk from the city center but provides a more authentic, almost suburban experience. Rooms are clean and frequently updated, and the bathrooms are especially large for the price.

Where to Stay for Families

Ferris wheel and St. Stephen's Basilica
Ferris wheel and St. Stephen's Basilica
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I hesitate to recommend one of the city's most expensive hotels (still usually under $300 per night) for families, but if your children love music, the Aria Hotel Budapest is such a fun choice. A true music-themed hotel, the Aria has four wings, each named for and celebrating a specific music type. Within the wings (jazz, classical, contemporary, and opera) each triple sound-proofed guest room is dedicated to a particular artist. Of course the 49 rooms include excellent stereo systems and curated playlists ready for your listening pleasure. A stay in the classical wing, combined with related sightseeing following the footsteps of some of the city's great composers (like Liszt or Bartok) is both enjoyable and educational.

Located in the historic Castle District, the Hilton Budapest combines low rates with the brand's reputation for excellent service and modern, stylish accommodations. The location is ideal for sightseeing, within a few minutes walk of the castle and the area's many museums. Guests will appreciate amenities like free Wi-Fi; a fitness center open 24 hours a day; and room service, also available 24 hours a day. Aside from room service, there are also two dining options, the Lobby Cafe and the ICON Restaurant. The Hilton has beautiful loft suites that are great for families. They are on two levels and have a separate living room area with a sofa bed. There's also a full kitchen in each loft suite.

Where to Stay for Romance

View over Budapest at sunset
View over Budapest at sunset
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Couples will enjoy romantic views of the river and nighttime strolls along the riverbank. The InterContinental Budapest is right on the Danube, next to the Chain Bridge, directly across from Buda Castle. For a real luxury experience, why not upgrade to one of their 25 suites, all with sweeping views across the Danube. The hotel's Romance Package includes free, roundtrip airport transportation, a welcome amenity in your room, and dinner for two at a romantic local restaurant. The SPA InterContinental includes a couples treatment room for a romantic massage.

The Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace brings the legendary restaurant and lounge brand's style and luxury to the hotel world. The stylish hotel is ideal for romantic getaways, with luxuriously decorated rooms and suites, a large spa, and one of the city's best restaurants right on site. It's one luxury hotel where lovers can spend an entire stay without ever leaving the property. The hotel brings the brand's Asian style to a 100-year-old former palace, and it creates a romantic wonderland the second you enter. The Buddha-Bar's two-night Romantic Getaway package includes flowers on the bed and orchids around the room each night, one in-room candlelit romantic dinner for two, and a couples aromatherapy massage.

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