The Great Synagogue of Budapest. The oldest metro system outside London. Partying in retro Soviet ruin bars. With so many things to do in Budapest, you might need more time to explore. The growing number of rental apartments are ideal for longer city breaks or shorter holidays where you can cook for yourself and chill in a home from home. Here’s our pick of the best.
This suburban red-roofed house sits on a leafy street about a 30-minute bus ride south of the city centre and has one- and two-bedroom lodgings. Whitewashed walls and splashes of primary colour on the rugs and cushions give them a fresh, simple feel. It has free parking and a shared garden where you can hang out with fellow guests.
Nova City Aparthotel’s one- and two-bedroom apartments come in corporate-chic tones with floral accent walls and balconies overlooking trees and a little grassy garden. The living rooms with a sofa bed have plenty of space to chill and watch TV, while the kitchen has an oven and coffee machine. The District VII neighbourhood may sound like something from The Hunger Games, but it’s a vibrant, cafe-packed area, with a pizzeria, a bakery and a bubble tea cafe almost next door and a range of quirky pubs within easy walking distance.
In summer, the honey scent of linden blossom in upmarket Liszt Ferenc tér (Franz Liszt Square) mixes with the aroma of roasted coffee from a dozen sophisticated pavement cafes. Wood floors, pale colours and statement art mean these studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments fit right in with their elegant surroundings. The on-site Trattoria Gusto downstairs offers a discount for Karma guests.
Affluent Rózsadomb (Rose Hill) is one of the classiest areas in Hungary. The quiet, tree-lined lane, with leafy views, has free parking and buses every few minutes so that you can be at Buda Castle in half an hour. Each smart apartment is named for its dominant colour (purple, gold, blue, etc) and comes with parquet floors, a kitchenette, plenty of sitting space and a double or two twin beds with crisp white linen. Some of the flats have private patios or balconies, and from the balcony chairs outside the grey and green rooms, you can see as far as the mountains.
The concrete-and-glass 1990s cylindrical structure of the National Police HQ (known locally as the Cops’ Palace) looms over this modern block, which has front-row views from the balconies. There are proper stoves and ovens in the kitchens and a bakery and supermarket on the doorstep. There’s also a metro station next door, while a 20-minute stroll away is Margaret Island in the Danube, home to a water park, musical fountains and a peaceful Japanese garden. If you’ve bought a public transport pass, you can hop on the boat from Arpad Bridge for free and use it as a sightseeing tour.
On a narrow, cobbled lane in the old Jewish Quarter, near the saffron-yellow church of St Teresa, this light-filled apartment is full of technology, from Netflix to a Nespresso machine. It even has a washing machine and a smartphone. The decor is minimalist white and yellow, and the decent kitchen means self-catering is easy. There’s a greengrocer nearby, and the surrounding 19th-century streets are heaving with modern bars and restaurants, including the Cereal Beast Cafe, where you can build your own retro breakfast bowl.
It doesn’t get much more convenient than these well-equipped apartments on a rowan-tree-lined boulevard near the giant Ferris wheel. The towering St Stephen’s Basilica, just up the street, has several concerts every week, attracting choirs from around the world. And the Moorish-style Great Synagogue is a short walk in the other direction. There’s no parking, but there are restaurants nearby. The metro leaves from almost outside the building every couple of minutes, and the major Budapest-Nyugati train station is a 15-minute walk away.
There are no run-of-the-mill furnishings at Úttö, where a palatial early-20th-century telephone exchange with eye-catching eclectic architecture has become a hub for hotels and high-ceilinged apartments. Leather sofas, flower-patterned curtains, chandeliers and colourful art raise the atmosphere of these airy suites, with up to three bedrooms, to a stylish new level. Tuck into continental breakfast baskets, with ham and cheese croissants and chocolate muffins, delivered to your room each morning.
Centrally located and close to a metro station, Town Hall has been renting apartments since 2005, making it one of the longest-established companies in Budapest for short-term holiday lets. Balconies, DVD players, dishwashers and washing machines come as standard in these top-notch spaces near St Stephens and the Great Synagogue. Rag rugs and stripped pine give them a cosy domestic feel, but these are more than just homestyle hangouts. Hot drinks on arrival, high-speed wifi and the use of a nearby swimming pool, gym, steam room and sauna are all included in the price.
There’s free sparkling wine in your room at Bo33 and sun loungers on the astroturf terrace overlooking the city spires. The decor is unapologetic in this central, modern hotel on the west (Buda) bank of the Danube. From the eye-crossing bedroom carpets to the shiny-walled bathroom and heaped satin pillows, it’s cheerful and bright. There are three shady parks within a five-minute stroll, an underground car park and a 24-hour cafe-bar.
If you want to be near the action, Grand Budapest Apartments does the job. From a roomy bedroom and sitting room up to a three-bedroom penthouse for eight people, these colourful apartments are a comfy hub in the heaving heart of the city. Each space has plenty of technology, from remote-controlled lighting to a smart TV and espresso machine. Step out 500m (1,640ft) to the fabulously chaotic Szimpla Kert, one of the original ruin bars, for giant burgers and shots of home-brewed pálinka (fruit brandy) made from wild pears or quinces.
With wooden stairs leading to mezzanine bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens and unfussy furnishings, these holiday flats and studios combine tasteful minimalism and cosy charm. A 10-minute walk from the apartments will bring you to Gellért Hill, where you’ll find a waterfall, a fortress and views across the Danube. Lidl is next door if you want to self-cater, but there are a dozen or more takeaways just a dumpling’s throw from the doorway. You can pick up paprika-laced goulash soup from Bonnie Restro or honey-poppyseed pastries from Fornetti bakery.
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