Are you looking for colourful dorms in Budapest or maybe a forest treehouse with just birdsong for company? How about an indulgent spa near Lake Balaton or tennis and horseback riding deep in the Hungarian countryside? Whatever your dream Hungarian holiday, there’s a hotel to match your budget and style.
Next to Siófok station, this characterful hotel is a great base for swimming in the warm, vineyard-ringed waters of Lake Balaton, which is just a short walk away. The hotel, once a school and chapel, now has a spa with an Egyptian-style swimming pool and a Roman Jacuzzi. Individually designed rooms take themes from across the globe: the Thai room is all flame-coloured silks and gold-embroidered elephants, while the Japan room offers geometric elegance, wind chimes and bonsai trees. Decorative keynotes are also drawn from art (Mona Lisa and Dali), and the Baroque room has a lace-draped four-poster bed and gilded mirrors. The Retro room sports reclaimed wood, 1970s’ patterns and an antique radio.
Pig’s-trotters confit with smoky stewed beans or grilled pikeperch with creamy shrimp-and-mushroom sauce? Tuck into classic Hungarian dishes at Gerlóczy Cafe, accompanied by pálinka fruit-brandy shots. You can then stagger back to the boutique bedrooms in this 19th-century building, which feature thick wooden beams in the slant-roofed attic or blue and purple velvet to contrast with striped gold walls. Some rooms have wrought-iron balconies overlooking the lime-shaded cobbles outside and the bronze statue of united Budapest’s first mayor.
These luxurious stilt-houses in the forest, a 15-minute drive from the fortress-topped town of Eger, opened in 2017 and won an architectural award soon after. They all have outdoor Jacuzzis and huge windows with views of the surrounding beech trees. They face downhill towards a turquoise lake, and there’s a 10m-tall (33ft) lookout tower with a cosy sauna and a top-floor hot tub facing the stars. Nearby Noszvaj village has a museum of fairy tales and an 18th-century palace with a rustic bistro.
A 19th-century goldsmith built this mansion in sunny Szeged, the third biggest city in Hungary. It’s now a hotel with 12 bedrooms, a bar-restaurant and a cafe in the old milliner’s workshop, serving homemade mille-feuille and photo-worthy coffees. The spa has a steam room, an aromatic sauna and a seaside-climate room with salty, oxygen-rich air. Surrounding Szeged, home to a university and Art Nouveau houses, is dominated by a towering twin-spired cathedral.
Steps from colourful Matthias Church in Budapest, this 17th-century hotel houses 10 individual boutique rooms with vintage touches among designer comforts. There’s art from 20th-century Hungarian artists and rainforest showers in the bathrooms. The atelier suite is a big attic room with exposed ancient beams and a picture window with views over the rooftops to the bell tower. At the restaurant downstairs, sit on the ancient cobbles under chestnut trees to enjoy paprika sausage and pickles or wild boar stew with forest mushrooms. Wash it all down with unfiltered Hungarian beers or golden, late-harvest Tokaj wines.
Here, 22 pools beckon pleasure-seekers and fitness fans into the huge Spirit spa. There are placid garden lakes, and the pools are fed from a thermal spring. The spa town of Sárvár, a couple of hours’ drive westwards from Budapest, is famous for mineral-rich waters, so what are you waiting for? Dive in, and relax in a choice of stylish bedrooms: Oriental rooms have a huge round bed, and king rooms add a private Jacuzzi.
This five-star hotel in a former freemasons’ palace in central Budapest is all about ancient grandeur and legendary secrets. The bedrooms are named for Greek columns: jungle-papered Doric Rooms overlook the orchid-tastic garden; top-floor Ionic Rooms favour an elegant French style, with pale floral motifs and wrought-iron stairways; while the baroque Corinth Rooms have crystal and crimson velvet and gilt-framed famous paintings as headboards. Every corner of the hotel adds to the theme, from the curtained lift and candlelit corridor to the chandelier-hung Great Hall restaurant, once a masonic temple.
Next to the Hungarian State Opera House, on the most spectacular tree-lined boulevard in Budapest, this 19th-century mansion opened the glowing Callas Cafe & Restaurant in 2006. It featured opulent dark wood and brass interiors by the late Irish architect David Collins, who also designed restaurants for several top London chefs. Ten years later, Collins’ studio added 20-odd bedrooms in different styles, but all with classic elegance.
The Grand Synagogue is a 5-minute stroll from this vibrant hostel on a cobbled alley in Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter. Nearly all the city sights are within walking distance, and there’s a bus stop and the Astoria Metro station nearby. Primary-coloured minimalism characterises the bargain rooms here, whether you’re after an ensuite double or an eight-bedded dorm. Towels, bed linen, tea and coffee are all included; there are a shared kitchen and plenty of shops nearby. The area is also packed with great pubs and cafes, including the must-see Szimpla Kert ruin bar around the corner.
Hertelendy Kastely is deep in the flat Hungarian countryside, 65km (40mi) south of Lake Balaton, and has an airstrip nearby, should you want to arrive by private jet. Wide stone steps lead down from the sunshine-yellow neoclassical mansion to a beech-shaded lawn and a large outdoor pool. Long, draped curtains, canopies, polished antique wardrobes and candelabras give the rooms a luxurious air. And, with a thermal spring, a range of massages, tennis courts and 14 glossy Freiberger horses, there is no reason to ever get bored. Hotel staff can even organise year-round hot-air-balloon rides.
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