Fodor's Expert Review Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
District V, Széchenyi István tér 5–6, Budapest, Budapest, 1051, Hungary See on Map Fodor's Choice
It doesn't get much better than this: a centrally located, super-deluxe hotel in a museum-quality landmark with the prettiest views in town. No details were spared in the five years it took to restore this stunning 1906 art nouveau palace to its original majesty: delicate wrought-iron vents in the hallways, exquisite gold mosaic tiles on the facade, stained-glass windows, and cupolas. Three magnificent stairwells are so grand that you may not want to use the elevators. Add all this beauty to comfortable rooms, great service, and magnificent extras, and you're clearly onto a winner (if you can afford it).
Keep an eye out for the little historic details: on the right as you enter the stunning, glass domed atrium in reception, look down at your feet and you'll see hearts within the floor tiles. They were reportedly added in by the builder, who was suffering from unrequited love when the Gresham Life Insurance company commissioned him (and various other top craftsmen of the time) to show off their wealth in building form in 1906.
Rooms, some with balconies and vaulted ceilings, and many with Danube views, are as large and plush as you would expect, in keeping with the rest of the hotel. There's a subtle art deco-style, purple theme, which gives even the standard rooms a real sense of luxury and individuality. And from Nespresso machines to an iPod docking station, down duvets to hypoallergenic pillows on request, the amenities are top-notch.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The only downside? All of this doesn't come cheap. Prepare yourself for prices that rival the top hotels in capitals the world over, regardless of the fact that Budapest is a generally affordable city for accommodation.
Spanish-marble bathrooms—unlike any in Budapest—have both showers and deep soaking tubs. Toiletries are made from Budapest's famous thermal waters, by Omorovicza. And the sense of style is undiminished even in the bathrooms: the art deco-style mirrors reflect the building's heritage.
One of the most beautiful hotel lobbies in the world, dripping with glamor. You enter via huge iron gates with intricate patterns (including peacocks) and are almost literally dazzled by the various bits of glasswork: the ceilings, the stained glass, the modern chandelier hanging over reception. Service is, obviously, impeccable.
The indoor infinity pool, part of the spa on the fifth floor, is lovely and slightly unusual among even the finest hotel pools in that it has windows to the outside world, providing lots of light.
The spa has a cozy log cabin feel, and boasts a hot tub, steam room and sauna, as well as six treatment rooms and a manicure/pedicure room.
The 'Gentleman's Facial', with Hungarian moor mud, comes highly recommended for male guests. And the Classic Hungarian Body Wrap is a treat for anyone.
The hotel's fitness room is large and well air-conditioned, with little portholes looking out onto the city below.
Kollázs Brasserie and Bar has a swanky, 20th century feel, stellar views, and great dining options all day, from the delicious breakfast (not always included in the room rate) through to dinner, accompanied by live musicians at the weekend. It also hosts a popular Sunday brunch.
The gorgeous Bar and Lobby Lounge is modeled after the building's original, located in the historic Peacock Passage. As well as drinks, guests can take afternoon tea here, served on famous Hungarian porcelain while a pianist plays softly in the background.
A dream location. Not only is the hotel practically on top of the famous Chain Bridge, it is walking distance to almost all of the city's other sights on both sides of the river. For trips further afield, there are metro stops nearby.
Börze (5-minute walk) is a sleek restaurant dishing up Hungarian classics at reasonable prices. Or go for a real treat at Babel Budapest (13-minute walk), a fine dining restaurant with Transylvanian roots and fantastic wines.
For effectively the opposite vibe to the impeccably finished hotel, staff recommend that all ages and backgrounds head to Szimpla Kert (19-minute walk, 13-minute cab), Budapest's famous ruin bar, and soak up the atmosphere. Or they also back Boutiq Bar (9-minute walk) for great cocktails.
WHY WE LIKE IT
If you're spending serious money to stay at a beautiful 5-star hotel in Budapest, we'd make it this one. Oodles of history, gorgeous details, an amazing view and a constant dedication to guests' comfort and enjoyment make the Four Seasons Gresham Palace stand out not just in Budapest, but among the best hotels in Europe.