This hotel sits on top of Castle Hill, among the pretty burghers’ houses and with the spires of the neo-Gothic Matthias Church alongside and the sweep of the Danube down below – meaning it hogs the juiciest, most heart-thumping spot in the whole of Budapest.
- Adrian Phillips, Destination expert
Sitting on top of Castle Hill, among the pretty burghers’ houses and next to the neo-Gothic Matthias Church. The Hilton Budapest has an enviable location. It’s perfect for sunset strolls through cobbled medieval alleys after the coach-trip tourists have disappeared for the day. The shops and bars of Pest on the other bank of the river are around 15 minutes by taxi or bus (number 16), although you can also take the funicular railway that trundles up and down the hill, and fitter guests can even use the paths that zig-zag the hillside.
Style & character
The Hilton’s façade has always provoked mixed reviews. Built around the ruins of a 13th-century Dominican monastery, the hotel incorporates original medieval stonework into an overall neo-Baroque design. Most striking (and controversial) are the windows, which have a gold-metallic tint like the sunglasses of a blingy popstar.
Inside, the hotel has undergone a huge refurbishment to overhaul the styling that had become distinctly tired. It’s infinitely classier as a consequence. The lobby has Art-Deco-style lighting and highly polished marble floors, while a cloud of glass butterflies hangs above a comfortable seating area overlooking the evocative ruins of the monastery courtyard.
Service & facilities
Building restrictions meant the hotel couldn’t include a swimming pool, but otherwise it has most of what guests will require, including a beauty salon, a fitness room, a massage service and a gift shop. The Executive Lounge – with a business corner – is available to any guest for a €65 (£46) room supplement. It's worth considering if there are two of you because complimentary snacks and soft drinks are available throughout the day, alcoholic drinks during an evening Happy Hour, and breakfast is included (in itself worth €28 (£20) per person). You can book wine tastings in advance at the hotel’s Faust Wine Cellar, which is accessed via a glass lift.
Service is as you’d expect from a five-star hotel, and I found the staff in the restaurant particularly polite and welcoming during my stay.
- Room service
- Fitness centre
The 321 rooms (200 superior, 100 River View, 22 suites) are now contemporary and stylish with accents of turquoise and blue hues (including an electric blue sofa), thanks to a much-needed refurbishment. Bathrooms have faux wood floors, white tiles and (thank goodness!) smart glass screens instead of the shower curtains that once hung here. River-facing rooms have wide, tall windows looking down to the splendid riverscape. Rooms have a minibar, safe and complimentary tea and coffee facilities; those on the executive floor are slightly larger and have separate bath and shower.
Food & drink
The hotel’s restaurant has always won – by a country mile – the award for Budapest’s best dinner views (don’t consider booking anything but a window table so you can drink in the glorious sight of the Parliament and Chain Bridge illuminated at night). But now, thanks to a major overhaul, the restaurant itself is also pleasing on the eye, with soft greens and pinks, and a feature wall of draping vines. Service is top drawer, and the menu features dishes from the grill such as steaks, salmon and schnitzel, imaginative international options such as crayfish cappuccino soup (with crayfish ravioli), and traditional Hungarian cuisine (a Hungarian colleague said the paprika chicken and chilled cucumber on the side was precisely like a home-cooked meal). Expect a three course meal (excluding wine) to cost around HUF10,000 (£27).
The horse-shoe-shaped lounge bar, just off the lobby, is a good spot for a beer and overlooks the Dominican Courtyard. Breakfast is served in the restaurant, and includes a good range of buffet options, such as cheeses and cold meats, and hot options such as sausages, eggs and more.
Value for money
Double rooms from €135 (£120) in low season; and from €220 (£195) in high. Add a further €60 (£53) for a river-facing room and at least €250 (£222) for a suite. Breakfast €28 (£25). Free Wi-Fi. I’m also told that it’s worth asking at check-in for any deals on upgrades.
Access for guests with disabilities?
There are three adapted rooms, and every part of the hotel is wheelchair accessible – including a lift to avoid the three or four steps from the lobby to the bar.
The hotel has several sets of connecting rooms, and some rooms have four beds. There is also a suite with two bedrooms, a kitchenette and a sitting room. Baby cots and high chairs are available, and there’s a babysitting service.