BUDAPEST: Hilton Garden Inn Budapest City Center

We spent two nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Budapest City Center and were quite delighted with both the accommodations and the excellent service.

The hotel is just a 260-meter walk from the Hungarian State Opera and the Opera Metro station across the street. As we’d seen many times on this trip, “A map is not the territory.” Mapping out our route gave us the incorrect sense that it would be a difficult walk. In reality, it was much easier than we’d expected.

Hungarian State Opera

When we checked in, we were given a choice of additional Hilton Honors points or breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. We chose the points but probably should have chosen the breakfast. If purchased, the buffet breakfast was €15 per person, or a total of €60 over two mornings. Balanced against 750 points, we probably took the lesser end of the deal.

Hotel entrance

No matter. We found a delightful little coffee shop just 75 meters down the street, Lázár u., from our hotel. More on 9Bar Specialty Coffee Shop here.

Our guest room was about 15 feet by 10’10”, or about 165 square feet. That was smaller than many rooms we’d stayed in on our trip, but it did not feel cramped at all. The room was nicely laid out, with a king bed, chair, table, desk with task chair, included Wi-Fi, a refrigerator and in-room safe to store our passports and other valuables.

Guest room

The bath was just as nice, with a wand shower, bulk amenities from Casswell & Massey, a heated mirror and a hair dryer.

The street was narrow and views consisted of looking at other buildings, so not the greatest, but we were after all in the heart of Budapest.

Staff was uniformly gracious, with housekeeping greeting us as we passed in the hall and front desk personnel eager to help these first-time visitors to Budapest find their way around.

For our first evening, we had booked an “unlimited Prosecco cruise” on the Danube and the departure dock was not easily reached by public transportation, so our front desk clerk arranged a taxi. The fare, based on the meter, was only €10, so we were pleased with that and tipped accordingly.

One note here: though the official currency of Hungary is the Forint (HUF), the Euro is a much more stable currency and most establishments offer the option of paying in Euros. We had obtained 30,000 Forints before departing our home but found the Euro universally accepted.

That said, Hungarians are big on tipping. One resource I found suggested that “You tip pretty much everyone you meet in your hotel,” so having some 200 Forint coins is a handy thing. I tipped our front desk attendants when they called us a taxi, gave us directions, and for other normally mundane tasks. 200 Forint, at today’s exchange rate, is a shade over 50 cents, so it’s more the gesture than the amount.

And of course, leaving a tip for the housekeeping staff at the end of your visit, even if you don’t use housekeeping every day, is a nice touch.

One note: the Opera Metro station is on Metro Line 1, which is the oldest underground line on the European continent and is reached by stairs only; there is neither escalator nor a lift. Hoisting our large suitcase up the stairs was quite a feat!

Oldest subway line in Budapest

Hungarians had originally thought that the line was the oldest in Europe. However, they discovered that one line of London’s Underground is older, so now they proudly proclaim that they have the oldest subway on the European continent.

Metro station retains the original style

In a nod to its place in history, Budapest has kept the train cars and the station as they must have looked in the late 1800s and it is altogether charming, especially if you’re not schlepping a huge bag.

Our hotel's side street

The Hilton Garden Inn Budapest City Center is on a little side street with pubs, restaurants and coffee shops within easy walking distance. It is also a walk of about 500 meters to St. Stephen’s Basilica and the square it abuts, with its shops, stores and restaurants. From there, it’s about another kilometer to the Shoes on the Danube memorial, so the hotel is convenient to a number of attractions, Metro stations, and major streets with bus and tram lines.

Shoes on the Danube

With its excellent service and convenient location, I’d highly recommend the Hilton Garden Inn Budapest City Center if you’re visiting Budapest.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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