Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Europe, as we visit the Hilton Budapest in Hungary.
With several daily (in normal times) British Airways flights from Heathrow as well as many low cost options from across the UK, Budapest is a perfect city for a long weekend trip.
We are currently running this reader-written feature to provide some positivity and inspiration to Head for Points. We hope to run one review per day for the next few weeks. There will be a deliberate mix of European and worldwide properties, super luxury and mid market, branded and independent. You can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews so far by clicking here.
Today we are going to a European favourite, and one which is bookable on Hilton Honors points. The Hilton in Budapest is reader Ben’s favourite hotel and here is his review:
Budapest is well geared up for the millions of tourists who visit each year and has a large selection of hotels to choose from. With almost every hotel chain represented you can easily find budget or high-end options including InterContinental, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons.
Trying to choose the right area to stay in Budapest isn’t necessarily easy especially for first-time visitors to the city. You can choose the Buda side, which has plenty of history and is quieter in the evening, or the flat Pest side, which houses the majority of the city’s restaurants, bars and shopping. Although not a huge city, regardless of where you decide to stay you will almost certainly need to use public transport or a taxi at some point.
Fortunately for us, our choice of hotels was made simple by the fact that we were travelling with a friend who is a Hilton devotee (Gold at the time, now Diamond), which reduced our choice to their three properties. Hilton Budapest was by far the best-reviewed of the three and there wasn’t much of a price difference for the weekend we visited.
How do you get to Hilton Budapest?
The easiest way to reach the Hilton Budapest from the airport is by taxi. Other options require changing at least once and take much longer.
A taxi takes roughly 35 – 40 minutes, traffic dependant. Costs vary, but we paid £33 one way with Bolt (an equivalent to Uber).
We arrived at the hotel at 6.30pm on a Friday, greeted by a friendly porter and were surprised at just how quiet the hotel and surrounding area was.
We had booked a King Superior room and were given one on the 4th floor with partial views of the Danube which, given we hadn’t paid any extra for a river view, felt like an upgrade. This was the view from our room.
We were also immediately impressed by the amount of space in the room. My pictures don’t do the room justice, so here is a picture from the hotel’s website of a superior room with a view which is an accurate representation.
If you can guarantee a room on a high floor with views of the Danube and the Hungarian Parliament building, I recommend you take it.
This is the reverse image of the room. It is not obvious from the image, but there is plenty of wardrobe space, where you could easily fit a weeks’ worth of travel kit if you needed too.
The bed was large – the type of large that means you wake up in the morning thinking your partner has left you, only to discover they are just on the other side of the bed – and very comfortable, as was the chaise lounge which was perfect for an afternoon read or nap.
The room had a free bottle of still and sparkling water on arrival, but these were not replenished on the second or third night. There were also decent tea and coffee facilities, as well as a fridge, safe, iron, ironing board and hairdryer.
Our bathroom was not the largest I have ever seen, but did have a separate bath and shower, plus helpful and unobtrusive night lights.
The amenities were Crabtree & Evelyn and included everything you might need. The hotel’s image of the bathroom below gives a fair representation.
The hotel’s main restaurant is the LÁNG Bistro & Grill, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I generally regard Hilton breakfasts highly, but this was one of the best ever and it was consistently good across all three days.
The omelette station was super and there was also sparkling wine on offer (even on Monday morning). The staff were all very attentive and polite without being overly fussy. On top of all that, the windows at the far end of the restaurant gave you a perfect view of the Danube and Parliament building. It is a fine way to enjoy a leisurely breakfast although, as you might imagine, there was a little competition to get one of the tables with the best view.
This is an image from the LANG’s Facebook page. That is an accurate view, albeit you will not see fireworks outside every night.
What to see near Hilton Budapest
The location of Hilton Budapest undoubtedly gives it one of the best positions in the city and on Saturday morning, the peace and quiet of Friday evening was nowhere to be seen.
Whilst most tourists have to climb the hill to look at Fisherman’s Bastion and take in the view, Hilton guests can enjoy the same from the comfort of the hotel. You also have time to take some relaxed photos early in the morning or late in the evening when the area around the hotel becomes almost deserted.
As well as Fisherman’s Bastion, you have Matthias Church next-door (and in our case, right outside our window). The early tolling of the bells at 7am were a little intrusive and the only negative I could find about our stay, although it is worth noting that the bells were the only excess sound we ever heard, inside or outside the hotel.
A few minutes walk from the hotel you have the Royal Palace, National Gallery, National Library and Castle Museum. There are also a few restaurants and cafés close to the hotel, many serving the obligatory goulash, although these do get busy during the day.
If you want to venture to the other side of the river (and you should, as there is plenty to see there as well) you can take the bus which runs from outside the hotel to Elizabeth Square, or use the funicular by the castle and then walk over the Danube.
You can also take a Bolt (downloading their App is required) which, depending on the time and exact destination, will cost roughly £4 – £7 for a one-way journey. Once on the other side of the Danube, you’ll have several chances to look back at Buda and see how well the Hilton is integrated into its surroundings, especially for a hotel built in the 1970’s.
We booked our trip through BA Holidays paying just under £300 per person for flights, breakfast and three nights in mid-November. It is worth noting that (as expected) the hotel was not prepared to acknowledge Hilton Honors status as we had not booked directly. If you have Hilton Honors Diamond status and want access to the Executive Lounge, which appears to be well regarded, make sure you book directly through Hilton.
Not only is the Hilton Budapest a well presented and cared-for hotel, but every single member of staff we spoke to was extremely polite and professional. When we return to Budapest we will certainly stay at the Hilton and it seems we are not alone. Many others, including regular Hilton members, rate the property highly and it is easy to see why.
The Hilton Budapest website is here if you want to find out more. Cash rates for Summer and Autumn 2020 are currently around €165 per night or 45,000ish Hilton Honors points from Summer onwards.
How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards (September 2021)
There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
The Platinum Card comes with a limited time bonus of 60,000 Amex points (converts to 120,000 Hilton Honors points) until 2nd November 2021.
Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.
You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)