Hotel Review: A Deluxe Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest
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To The Point
The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest, is the city’s newest luxury hotel and made a great base for a first-time visitor to this vibrant European capital. The pros: central location and fresh, clean look. The cons: it kind of feels like a cookie-cutter property.
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On a recent trip to Europe, I decided to visit Budapest for the first time and was excited to see decent room rates at the city’s newest luxury hotel, The Ritz-Carlton. Though it’s only been a Ritz-Carlton since April of 2017, the hotel itself is quite old, housed in a landmark 1914 building on Elizabeth Square in Pest, just a few blocks from the Danube. Most recently, it was affiliated with Ritz-Carlton as the Elizabeth Park Hotel, but before that, it was a Le Méridien where TPG actually stayed a few years ago. These days, the hotel is looking quite spruce and refreshed thanks to a total Ritz-Carlton makeover, with 170 rooms and 30 suites.
While Budapest isn’t one of Europe’s most expensive destinations, because I was making a last-minute booking, I found room rates at the hotel starting at 270 euros (~$290 at the time I booked) for a Superior King room the night I needed. I entered my Marriott Rewards information since I’d linked my account to my Starwood Preferred Guest one a few weeks ago. I have SPG Gold status thanks to a (now-canceled) Platinum Card from American Express that should still be good through the end of the year, so I was matched to Marriott Rewards Gold status as a result. I also noted that I’d be checking in around 11:00am rather than the standard 3:00pm time in hopes that there might be a room ready for me.
I paid for the stay using my new Chase Sapphire Reserve Card in order to earn 3x points per $1 for the travel purchase. The hotel is a Tier 3 property and award nights require 50,000 points each, which would only have gotten me a value of about 0.58 cents per Marriott point. You can also now transfer Starpoints to Marriott Rewards at a ratio of 1:3, so a redemption would only require 16,667 points and get me a value of 1.7 cents per point. I could do better, though, so that’s why I paid for it instead. Thanks to my Gold status and the 25% points bonus that comes with it, I ended up earning 3,625 Marriott Rewards points for this one-night stay.
I got to the hotel pretty much right on schedule. I arrived by train, so I was able to take the metro from the train station practically to the hotel’s doorstep without changing lines. A doorman immediately helped me with my larger suitcase and the agent at the check-in desk took my passport.
She pulled up the reservation, thanked me for my loyalty and told me that they’d upgraded me one room category to a Deluxe King room on the top (ninth) floor that was ready now — that’s one of two floors that constitute the club level, but unfortunately I didn’t have club access.
Before heading upstairs, I took a moment to look around the lobby. A friend of mine who was in Budapest and saw it said it reminded her of a West Elm catalog, and I have to agree. The décor makes is destination-specific, with a taupe-and-blue color palette meant to evoke the Danube while lightweight bookcases hold a hodgepodge of Hungarian tchotchkes like a Rubik’s Cube. The effect, however streamlined and clean, just feels generic though.
I headed over to the elevator bank, pausing for another moment to admire a stained-glass cupola over the spiral staircase. By the time I got to my room, which was at the end of the hallway on the ninth floor, my suitcase had already arrived.
The Superior Room I’d originally booked is listed as 365 square feet, and my Deluxe room clocked in at 390 square feet, so it was a little larger but not by much. While the view is supposed to be of Elizabeth Park or Fashion Street, mine was more of… walls. Because of the roof and the smaller windows, you really couldn’t see much at all.
I think the one drawback might be that, because it’s the top floor, the ceilings are slanted at the edges and a bit lower, so if you’re tall, it might not be the best option for you.
Aside from that, the room looked really nice and fresh, if not full of character, sporting the same pale blue and taupe palette as the public areas outside.
I thought the mid-century-ish central light fixture with globular bulbs radiating off a central access was pretty cool looking.
The bed was king-sized, but felt bigger because the sheets and duvet were so sumptuous. It was so comfortable, I made the mistake of taking an afternoon nap and almost didn’t get up again to go out to dinner.
The love seat along the wall by the windows was a great spot for reading and working as well.
The dark wood finishes on the desk and the enormous mini-bar under the wall-mounted 48-inch flatscreen TV were also stylish, with a mid-century look.
I liked that there were plugs next to the bed so you could have your electronics charging there instead of across the room.
The closet was absolutely tiny, though. I mean, there was barely enough room for a carry-on and you had to reach in and around to get to some of the hangers. If you stay here, remember to pack light!
The mini-bar was thoughtfully stocked with a couple of interesting Hungarian products, including wine and a cookbook, which I thought was a great touch.
And I always like having an in-room espresso machine, Krups in this case.
The marble bathroom was also spacious, though it just had a single sink rather than dual vanities.
The bath products were by Asprey, as is usual with Ritz-Carlton amenities.
The shower and bath tub were separate.
The hotel has two restaurants and a bar, as well as a few other features worth noting. The main restaurant is Deák Street Kitchen, which sort of felt like an upscale but casual grill serving Hungarian fare like artisanal grilled fish and meats.
The menu I saw had dishes like quince cream soup with Hungarian Mangalica ham, marinated beetroot and walnuts. The restaurant also showcased Hungarian wines from various regions and even has a hand-drawn map on one wall pinpointing where its products and wines had come from, which was a fun, clever touch. In good weather, you can also eat on the outside terrace overlooking Fashion Street.
The Kupola Lounge is located in the center of the lobby underneath another stained-glass dome and an enormous chandelier, and you can have breakfast, lunch and drinks there.
Just off the lobby is the main bar, which serves classic cocktails. The night I was there, a singer and guitar player serenaded the few of us who were having a nightcap with mostly Michael Bublé tunes.
There’s a small fitness center, and the hotel plans to open a spa in the coming months, but it was still under construction at the time. Guests can go next door to the Kempinski to use their facilities in the meantime, though.
One of the complaints I hear a lot about Ritz-Carlton hotels is that they all sort of seem to be the same no matter where you are. This hotel certainly fit that mold in that the décor didn’t seem too extraordinary and there were only a few nods to the specific destination. That said, the hotel does look nice and refreshed. I liked having my loyalty recognized and thought the room was comfortable and well-appointed, especially at this price point. I also thought Deák Street Kitchen was a nice change of pace from the usual white-tablecloth fine dining establishments you tend to find in similar hotels. Though I do wish there were a few more elements that referenced Budapest as the destination, I had a nice stay there overall and would recommend it to first-timers, especially because of its central location.
Have you stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, Budapest? Tell us about your experience, below.
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