Constructed between 1912 and 1914, the Astoria has a fascinating and turbulent history. The first independent Hungarian government was formed here in 1918, but later the Nazi high command used the Astoria more or less as its headquarters, as did the Soviet forces during the ill-fated revolution of 1956. Nowadays, rooms are genteel, spacious, and comfortable, and the hotel's old-fashioned, gentle vibe is welcoming.
The Astoria's location is great and not so great simultaneously: effectively above a metro stop, close to the Jewish Quarter and walking distance from the main sights, the problem is that the building is perched on a very busy crossroads, which can feel quite hectic on leaving the hotel - plus sirens can disturb guests who want to open their windows.
Half of the rooms are currently being updated, and half have recently had the same treatment, which is a good thing, as they currently feel a little too traditional--although even the renovated ones keep the old-fashioned style, with red carpets, heavy drapes and gold throws. However, saying that, all of the rooms are cozy and reasonably-sized, features which will hopefully be retained in the renovations. And despite the old-school feel, there is air-conditioning.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms don't have tea or coffee making facilities, which is a shame.
Bathrooms have showers over baths and shower curtains. The non-renovated ones are in need of their upcoming update, with some showing signs of wear. The newer versions, in cream, are more modern and feel more spacious.
The hotel lobby is charming, harking back to 1950s-style MittelEuropa glamor--admittedly now a little faded. But the old-fashioned lamps, wood paneling, green and cream marble and chandeliers still warm the heart, as does the friendly service.
The hotel's restaurant, with its dripping chandeliers and pink marble columns, is a wonderful place to relive the Central European coffeehouse tradition, even if it is, sadly, often empty. The hearty breakfast is included in the room rate.
Guests can also have a drink at the Cafe Astoria restaurant. There's live music Wednesday-Saturday evenings.
The airport bus stops right outside the hotel and the metro couldn't be closer. Strangely, though, many guests report abandoning public transport altogether after they've arrived and instead clocking up the steps as they wander Pest's beautiful streets and tick off key attractions - a way to see the city we'd recommend, too.
Múzeum Kávéház és Étterem (4-minute walk) is a traditional, high-ceilinged dining room in which to try Hungarian specialities. Or have a break from heavy Hungarian food with some delicious tapas at Padron Tapas Restaurant (12-minute walk).
Don't miss the 'ruin bar' Szimpla Kert (8-minute walk). The first of its kind, with junkyard furniture in an abandoned yard, it is responsible for the entire trend of run-down half inside/half outside bars in Budapest, and we're thankful for it. Or try Fat Mo's Music Pub (8-minute walk), a large bar with exposed brick and regular live jazz and blues.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Historical pedigree and comfortable rooms, most of which will be newly renovated within the next year or so, make the Danubius Hotel Astoria a reasonable choice slap-bang in the city center. The busy road is a downside, but the rooms are soundproofed, and the general sense of vintage charm carries the day.