Fodor's Expert Review Danubius Grand Hotel Margit-sziget
District XIII, Margit-sziget, Zielinski Szilárd sétány, Budapest, Budapest, 1138, Hungary See on Map
This lovely neo-Renaissance building is located on a parkland-covered island on the Danube, which makes for a pretty romantic - and peaceful - address (the downside is that you're a bit of a way away from the main sights). Built in 1873 by Opera House architect Miklós Ybl, the hotel retains the building's historic features, with high ceilings and a general sense of fin-de-siècle elegance that now has more than a little hint of faded grandeur. Guests also have free admission to the well-equipped spa facilities of the hotel's uglier sister and next-door neighbor, the Danubius Health Spa Resort Margitsziget, which is directly accessed by a heated, underground walkway.
Hungarian writer János Arany, a regular guest in the late-19th century, composed some of his greatest novels here.
Rooms are classically decorated in a kind of Empire-style, with striped wallpapers and old-fashioned curtains and pelmets. They are a bit dated, but renovations are currently underway (as of winter 2018). Some have balconies, and nice treetop views.
Bathrooms have a slightly more modern feel, although some are quite small. As well as toiletries, guests are provided with a robe and slippers to use in the spa.
The traditional lobby, all dark wood and marble, keeps up the hotel's historic vibe.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Staff are almost all competent and welcoming, although some guests have reported slightly chilly welcomes.
There are fantastic pool facilities at the Danubius Health Spa Resort Margitsziget next door.
Similarly, a quick trip in the underground tunnel takes you to a great thermal spa, with thermal pools, treatments, saunas, a steam cabin, a solarium, a sun terrace and more.
The comprehensive fitness center is also located next door.
There are two restaurants: the old-fashioned but grand Széchenyi, with a garden terrace and Hungarian and international dishes, and the Margaret Brasserie, a more relaxed affair. The hotel's rich buffet breakfast is served in the former, and half board (with a buffet dinner) is available too. There are some healthy options at all of the dining choices due to the Danubius chain's focus on wellness.
Viktória Bar does have a genuinely olde worlde, turn-of-the-century feel, which is quite pleasant for an aperitif.
The hotel is more about wellness, peace and quiet and parkland - and the varied jogging, walking and swimming options that provides - than being in the city center. However, it's still in the city, public transport into town is quick (about 15-20 minutes to Pest's main sights, or 40 minutes to Buda's), and you can even take a ferry.
There are a handful of Vakvarju (25-minute bus, 35-minute walk) branches around the city - the closest to the hotel is on Bessenyei, but all are good, with quirky, individual vibes (one has a children's play area) and tasty food. Or try Café Kör (11-minute bus), close to Szent István Basilica, for a good lunch stop with daily specials.
It requires a change on public transport - from tram to bus, or metro - but it's worth it for a visit to the big daddy of Budapest's 'ruin bar' scene, Szimpla Kert (34 minutes by public transport). Or try the chilled Pier Pub (20-minute walk) at the other end of the island for a local tipple.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Providing a real sense of retreat without being too far from the city's main sights, perched on a green oasis island in the middle of the metropolis, Danubius Grand Hotel Margit-sziget also has a delicious sense of faded grandeur and history. And its links with the next-door spa hotel mean you don't even have to go outside to try Budapest's famous thermal waters.