The indulgent spirit of Hungarian hospitality is rightfully legendary. Hotels offer world-class accommodation and services with genuinely caring professionalism, often at remarkably friendly prices. In our monthly series Checking In, we look at the latest developments in Budapest’s hotel scene for March.
Enjoy an intermezzo lunch at the Liszt
Signature restaurant of the music-themed Aria Hotel, Liszt has just launched a weekday business lunch, on offer between noon and 3pm. For 5,000 forints (including the service charge), diners can tuck into three courses, carnivorous, vegetarian or vegan, salads, soups, mains and desserts changing week by week. The sought-after Aria burger is also available for an extra 2,000 forints. The price includes homemade bread (as well as the name of a famous Hungarian composer, Liszt actually means ‘flour’) and spring water. More details here.
The landmark Marriott turns 50
The first modern luxury hotel to be built in downtown Budapest, the Duna Inter-Continental, today’s Marriott, has just reached its half-century, a landmark achievement for a landmark building. Before the war, the Danube embankment was lined with elegant hotels, the promenade lively with busy terraces. After the destruction of World War II, plans were drawn up to rebuild a top hotel here, but were left on ice with the change of régime. By the 1960s, the Communist authorities changed their policy on tourism, and had architects József Finta and László Kovácsy design a Danube-facing edifice that would attract Westerners, and their dollars, to Budapest.
Opened on New Year’s Eve, 1969, the Duna-InterContinental soon staged a 40th birthday party for Liz Taylor, where guests included Michael Caine, Ringo Starr, Grace Kelly and, of course, Richard Burton, who was filming in Budapest at the time. A decade or so later, rock band Queen stayed here before their famous concert at the Népstadion. Although the legendary Starlight nightclub, Rendez Vous cocktail bar and, indeed, signature letter ‘D’ have all gone, the Marriott having moved in in 1993, by which time other high-end chains had set up around it. The 364 guest rooms remain, of course, each with that winning Danube view.
Gresham wins major international award
The independent globe-trotting experts at Forbes Travel Guide have just awarded the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest a Five Star rating for 2020. This is the fourth year in a row that the Gresham, a reborn Art Nouveau masterpiece overlooking the Danube, has been bestowed with FTG’s top honour. In addition, the Gresham spa received a Four Star award. FTG grew out of the Mobil Travel Guide established in 1958 and is the oldest of its kind in the United States.
“We have been committed to championing genuine Five-Star service for more than 60 years, and this year’s winners, as always, exemplify the very highest standards in hospitality,” said Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “We are humbled and honoured to receive the Forbes Five-Star Award again. This recognition means a lot to our dedicated team members,” says Yves Giacometti, Regional Vice President and General Manager at the Gresham. “They are the reason why we are such an iconic property in Budapest. I can't thank them enough for their commitment to excellence in service."
Record year for tourism in Budapest
With the figures for the final quarter just in, 2019 proved to be a record year for tourism in Budapest. According to the Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre (BFTK), the city saw a significant boost in the closing months, producing a rise both in revenue and traffic. For December 2019 alone,
402,157 tourists, near 12% increase on the same period for 2018, spent 932,531 nights (12.1% up) in the commercial lodgings of the Hungarian capital. The last instance of a double-digit increase was in July 2017, when the FINA World Aquatics Championships were held here.
December 2019 also witnessed another record, with a 9.6% increase and a total of 1.333 billion forints’ revenue in domestic tourism. Hungarians have never spent that much on travelling within the country in the month of December before. With the world’s third biggest sporting event, football’s European Championships, to be co-hosted here in June, this upward trend is almost sure to continue.
Ritz-Carlton celebrates Women’s Day
The Kupola Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest starts its spring Sunday brunch season in style with a special event to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March. From 12.30pm until 3.30pm, not only will there be a quality spread created by the culinary team here, as well as live acoustic music, but expert florists will be on hand to present a workshop, making flower boxes and preparing small gifts for all lady guests. Brunch and special entertainment can be for 11,900 forints/head plus a 12% service charge. More details here.
More mini concerts at the Kempinski
With popular tunes such as La Vie en Rose, The Entertainer and the Blue Danube being played on Saturday, 29 February, the so-called Concertini at the Kempinski continue into the spring. This series of 30-minute mini concerts takes place in The Living Room of the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest from 5pm and features the most talented students at Budapest’s prestigious Franz Liszt Music Academy.
For the last Saturday in February, this involves cellist Benjámin Horváth and violinist Adél Kovács. Concertini both offer free live entertainment to guests relaxing over fine tea and cakes or prime champagne, and provide a platform for local young musicians. Expect more budding talent to take the spotlight on 7 March and on subsequent Saturdays until further notice. More details here.