Destination: Hungary: Budapest
The soaring atrium of the Sofitel, which reopened in 2005 after a major makeover, is a curious mix of Times Square (in size) and Las Vegas (in unabashed flash). A sprawling inner courtyard features several cozy seating areas, light installations and strategically placed fabrics that add touches of pink and purple, along with a rather peculiar prop plane suspended from the ceiling. With 350 rooms on 8 floors, the Sofitel is one of Budapest’s larger hotels, and is clearly geared toward conferences. But what makes it a fabulous option for leisure travelers is that its Danube-view rooms have the same vistas as the ones at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, at a fraction of the cost. Rooms are comfortably decorated with bright fabrics, king-size beds and LCD flat-screen TVs. Bathrooms have both showers and separate bathtubs, and in-room amenities include coffeemakers and tea pots. Don’t expect the seamless service of a Four Seasons—a restaurant reservation I had requested was never made—but independent travelers who don’t require five-star pampering will find both the location and the value attractive. Rooms from $285.
WHO SHOULD STAY: Value-conscious travelers who want to be based near the Danube, and families and groups traveling together (several rooms have two queen-size beds). Children under twelve stay for free with their parents.
WHAT TO KNOW: If river-view rooms are not available, ask for one facing Roosevelt Square.
WHAT’S NEARBY: Some of the city’s major sights, like St. Stephen’s Basilica and Parliament, are within walking distance, as are restaurants like Tom George and Café Kör. The funicular that leads to Castle Hill is just across the Chain Bridge.
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