Destination: Hungary: Budapest
Part of the DesignHotels group, the recently opened Lánchíd 19 is on the Buda side of the city, literally at the foot of Castle Hill. It tries hard to bring some cutting-edge chic to a city famous for old-world interiors, and mostly succeeds. The common spaces and the forty-eight guest rooms, including three suites, feature lots of glass and sleek wood furnishings, with oranges and greens adding pop to an otherwise subdued palette. Rooms are decently sized and sixteen of them come with twin beds, a great touch for friends traveling together. The views of Pest and the Chain Bridge from the Danube-facing rooms are fabulous, especially at night when the waterfront is illuminated.
When it comes to high-tech amenities, however, the Lánchíd 19 seems a victim of form over function. Both the large flat-screen TV and the Wi-Fi access in my room both didn’t work; even more telling, the long panels in front of the windows that are supposed to function as movable shades and an über-cool light installation—when seen from the river, the hotel’s façade looks like a glowing accordion—did not work. Hopefully, these malfunctions can be chalked up to growing pains, as the overall ambiance was lovely and the staff friendly; a nice breakfast is included in the room rate and served on a serene wooden patio when the weather is warm enough. Rooms from $351.
WHO SHOULD STAY: Travelers who plan to do a lot of sightseeing on the Buda side and want to be close to Castle Hill.
WHAT TO KNOW: Book one of the spacious seventh-floor suites; they have balconies and the best views of the Danube.
WHAT’S NEARBY: You are a stone’s throw from the funicular that goes to Castle Hill, and Pest sights like St. Stephen’s Basilica are across the bridge.
MaMaison Andrássy Hotel
Andrássy Út, a wide, leafy boulevard lined with neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque buildings (a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987), runs from the city center past the State Opera House to Heroes’ Square in the north, where City Park begins. The Andrássy, a member of Small Luxury Hotels, is located toward the top end of the boulevard, in a posh residential neighborhood lined with embassies and private villas. It’s a great alternative for travelers who have been to Budapest before and want to be based in a serene area a bit removed from the busy waterfront. The Bauhaus-style building, designed in the 1930s by Olympic swimmer and architect Alfréd Hajós, can seem a bit severe from the outside, but the seventy spacious guest rooms were recently redone with colorful silky textiles and warm wood furnishings, and several have balconies offering views of the neighborhood. The bathrooms are large and most come with a shower or a bathtub (be sure to ask for your preference).
In terms of decor, the Andrássy may not be the most destination-specific property in the city—unlike, say, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, where Hungarian art and culture are seemingly chiseled into every tile—but what made my recent stay here memorable was the friendly, capable staff, especially Gergo Franciscy, who arranged for concert tickets to the celebrated Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music and also offered good restaurant recommendations. The staff’s thoughtfulness extended beyond my stay: a pair of gloves I left behind in the room was sent to my home and arrived a few days after I did. The location of the Andrássy, near City Park, seemed to be an excellent one for families (and three of the rooms connect), though I was told that the majority of guests are business travelers, couples and friends. Rooms from $198.
WHO SHOULD STAY: Repeat visitors who prefer a quiet, somewhat removed location and who don’t mind taking the subway or a taxi to get into the city center and to the Danube.
WHAT TO KNOW: The Andrássy scored a coup in 2006, when it lured chef David Seboek to relocate Budapest’s beloved Baraka restaurant from its location in the city center to the hotel.
WHAT’S NEARBY: City Park, with the Széchenyi bath complex; excellent museums like the House of Terror; the State Opera House; Omorovicza spa; and buzzing nightspot Liszt Ferenc Ter.
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