On a quiet side street a few steps away from Budapest’s iconic Chain Bridge, one white building’s ornate façade gleams brighter than the rest – this is the Prestige Hotel Budapest, which opened in 2015 within a historic urban palace that was completely renovated to become a stylish full-service establishment for city-center hospitality. While the guest rooms, meeting facilities, spa, and other amenities of the Prestige Hotel are all impressive, the on-site restaurant is certainly a special attraction: the Michelin-starred Costes Downtown, where hotel guests savor breakfast each morning.
St. Stephen’s Basilica, Erzsébet Square, the Danube Promenade, and several other city-center landmarks all lie very close to the Prestige Hotel Budapest, yet its side-street location seems somewhat hidden from the metropolitan bustle. This setting has likely been a tranquil place for most of the past century – designed to be an upscale apartment building by prominent 19th-century Hungarian architect József Hild, this neo-Classical urban palace has long been an esteemed site, and following a total refurbishment that involved reconstructing most of the interior, its original grand façade now looks as if it were newly built. However, this historic exterior conceals the Prestige Hotel’s many modern charms, so when we were recently presented with the opportunity to stay a night here, we gladly ventured inside to experience all that the property has to offer.
Walking through the elegant façade’s understatedly decorated main entrance, our sense of anticipation only grows; the opulence of this hotel’s interior is not immediately evident, although we can see shimmering elements of the ornate lobby through the glass elevators at the end of the foyer.
Only after walking around the partition can we admire the full scope of the reception area’s grandeur – within what used to be the building’s courtyard, a gigantic chandelier of Murano glass is the centerpiece of a towering chamber soaring six stories high to a gigantic skylight, allowing sunshine to filter into all of the interior rooms and onto the curvaceous front desk, where a friendly clerk greets us and guides us through the check-in process.The entire hotel is adorned with handcrafted furniture designed to evoke the grace of Budapest’s belle-époque era, and the lobby is no exception – velvety sofas and beaded light fixtures provide a timelessly dignified décor while retaining a modern feel. We admire this carefully balanced atmosphere while ascending to our fourth-floor suite in one of the glass elevators, thrilled by a moment of mild vertigo as we are launched from the ground level.
Upstairs we soon discover our spacious suite, which has an interesting feature – a short flight of stairs leading down from the doorway. While most of the hotel’s interior was completely built from scratch, all of the street-facing rooms are part of the original building, and thus have higher ceilings similar to most of Budapest’s older apartments; because of this, several of the suites have a few steps leading up or down from the doorway to match up with the interior hallways. Nonetheless, this does not detract from the suite – in fact, it kind of adds to the experience to initially see our accommodations from an elevated perspective.
We immediately like what we see – the living-room area of the suite is appointed with sophisticated furnishings in subdued colors, contrasted by silvery long drapes and a matching shag carpet, while the bedroom has a king-size bed topped by huge pillows stuffed with Hungarian goose feathers. Even the suite’s minor features – such as the textile wallpaper and the metal-sculpted leaf-shaped fruit bowl on the coffee table – demonstrate that the very expensive tastes of the hotelier were extended to every detail of this property.After some more detailed exploration of the suite, we are pleased to discover wall-mounted flat-screen TVs in both rooms, complimentary Belgian chocolate and Vis Vitalis drinking water, and organic Damana soaps, lotions, and shampoo in the sleekly tiled bathroom.
This setting is inviting enough to tempt us to just lazily lounge around in the suite throughout our entire stay – and since Costes Downtown provides the hotel’s 24-hour room service, this is an alluringly feasible option. However, we are eager to wander around the entire building, and so we head back downstairs to check out a public area that is often overlooked by Prestige Hotel guests: the ground-floor saloon, located just a few steps away from the foyer.
Of course, when we refer to a “saloon” here, we’re not talking about an Old West-style bar (as cool as that could be) – this is a refined gathering place with ivory-white walls akin more to Old World parlors for conversations or reading; indeed, this is where hotel guests will find the shelves of the Prestige book-exchange program, welcoming everyone to drop off and pick up reading material of all languages and genres. Sitting in a plush chair at one of the small tables surrounded by classic Zsolnay vases and modern art, we enjoy relaxing amid this peaceful city-center oasis.From here we get a chance to peek into the hotel’s meeting facilities within the Hild Room. While the conference center is not huge, it makes up for its smallish size with elaborate style, with its sumptuous golden drapes and wallpaper complementing the parquet flooring and ornate wooden chairs with thick upholstery. Although the Hild Room’s décor maintains the hotel’s belle-époque style, the facility’s air conditioning and audio-visual technology clearly belong to the 21st century.
After this little reconnaissance mission, we hurry back to the suite to change into our swim gear so that we can go enjoy another important amenity of the Prestige Hotel – its wellness center. Similarly to the conference room, this facility is not gigantic, but what it lacks in space it makes up for with superior quality; every guest is provided with a spa bag including slippers and a towel, which we bring with us while walking in the room’s terry cloth robes to the first-floor wellness area.
Although there is a range of fitness equipment available by the spa, we naturally skip that and head directly toward the hot tub; after a quick shower, we plunge right into the bubbling water lit by illuminated crystals above. Here we let our muscles melt for awhile as our eyes are soothed by the spa’s earth-toned décor, and then spend a few minutes in the sauna before another rinse and a bit of cozy reclining on the cushioned relaxation area.
Feeling simultaneously reinvigorated and sleepy, we drift back to the suite; for a few minutes we indulge in a sublime early-evening nap that threatens to become a full night’s sleep, but the Prestige Hotel is far too central to waste its easy access to downtown’s attractions. Although we are already well acquainted with all of the aforementioned Budapest landmarks lying just steps away from the hotel entrance, this location also means that many fine restaurants are sited nearby – MÁK Bistro is literally a stone’s throw away across the street, while Trattoria Pomo D’Oro is just around the block, Kollázs is a two-minute stroll from here, and Baraka is just a bit further towards Vörösmarty Square, among many other easily accessible fine-dining choices… including Costes Downtown, of course, but since we’ll be eating there for breakfast, we choose to save that for the morning.
We decide to feast at a romantic terrace table of TG Italiano, located about four minutes away from the hotel; after dinner, we conclude the night out with glasses of Hungarian wine at the nearby DiVino location directly by the Basilica’s base. Full and tipsy, this is the point when we’d usually start debating between taxi or night bus, but fortunately the Prestige Hotel remains just a short stagger away from it all, and so we return to the comfort of our suite, and cozily slide into the gigantic bed to sleep deeply amid heavenly softness.
Awakening to complete silence, we brew cups of strong coffee with the in-room Nespresso machine, sipping while quickly taking care of the morning’s electronic correspondence thanks to the room’s speedy Wi-Fi. But we don’t dawdle too long – in just a few minutes, we will be devouring breakfast in a Michelin-starred restaurant, a treat that is only available in Budapest here at Costes Downtown.
Stepping into the serene setting of this deluxe eatery, we are struck by how the atmosphere is remarkably down-to-earth, pretty much literally – the tables, flooring, and most of the fixtures are made of natural wood, while living plants are everywhere, including the wall and ceiling. Receiving ample sunlight through the oversized windows, it’s easy to imagine that Costes Downtown is an open-air restaurant that just happens to have a gigantic show kitchen equipped with top-of-the-line appliances.
While breakfast is available to the general public at Costes Downtown, guests of the Prestige Hotel are especially fortunate to have this spread awaiting them directly downstairs. First of all, a huge buffet includes fresh-baked pastries like muffins, croissants, and gluten-free banana bread, served alongside top-caliber Hungarian specialties like Grey Cattle salami and artisanal cheeses, and complemented with homemade yogurt, fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies, local and exotic fruits, and cereals (healthy and otherwise). This would be plenty to fill us up for the day, but we also get to choose from an à la carte selection of main dishes like French toast, omelettes, waffles, and more.
We select the eggs Benedict, and are grateful for that choice as soon as it arrives at our table – the poached eggs were perfectly light while the yolk was creamily runny, saturating the crisp-yet-tender English muffins and perfectly cooked bacon to make every bite incredible. Perhaps we should expect such excellence from a Michelin-starred restaurant, yet we’re not used to enjoying such exquisite delights within minutes of awakening, so we sit back and relish the experience while listening to the pleasantly lively jazz music filling Costes Downtown’s sound system.
Returning to our suite absolutely satisfied, we relax for a little while on the couch before beginning the dreaded chore of packing; knowing that our stay here is concluding, we fancifully imagine what it would be like for this to be our apartment, and how nice it would be to begin every day with a breakfast like that… in which case, we probably would have to start using the wellness area’s fitness equipment to work off each day’s morning meal, but that would be well worth it.As of press time, room rates at the Prestige Hotel Budapest range from approximately 150 euros per night to 600 euros per night, breakfast not included; see the hotel’s official website for current rates and discounts.
We Love Budapest’s “Guest Experience” series profiles various Budapest hotels that invite our staff to visit at no charge, but with the understanding that we may include negative impressions in our coverage; hotel management is not allowed to review these articles before they are posted.