Opened in 1977, Hilton Budapest, which was the first property of the U.S. brand to open in Eastern Europe, has retained its one-of-a-kind positioning in Budapest’s highly competitive luxury hotel sector.
With an unparalleled location on the Buda side of Budapest (Castle Hill – which also includes the Royal Palace), with uninterrupted views of the Budapest and the Danube, Hilton Budapest is the only such hotel property built around a UNESCO heritage site. At the time of its construction, architects conceived a flawless building which has been impeccable maintained until today, with ultimate sound-proofing standards, high water pressure, underfloor heating in bathrooms, automatic individually controlled AC, which is not only silent, but it can also adjusts to your preferred temperature within minutes.
Aesthetically, the modern cues of the hotel building, if watched from a distance, blend perfectly with the heritage ensemble. The Buda Castle Hill of the City has long been preserved by restring car traffic to residents and special permits. Tourists for instance, can only access the magical Buda Castle Hill side, almost like a small town within a bustling metropolis, by taxi or by a small low pollution mini-bus operated by the municipality.
Driving up to the hotel has always had a unique grandeur, a WOW factor with any guest boasting a sense of privilege to be residing within such as prestigious venue. Before the fall of the iron curtain, the property was exclusively available for foreigner travellers who would use a ‘hard’ currency such as the US Dollar or the German mark. Even during those times up until today, the Buda area is also the ultimate in safety, another extremely important aspect which nowadays, in certain parts of the Pest area can present some challenges.
With the exception of a Spa (the hotel only has a gym), Hilton has all the amenities of a grand luxury hotel, with two restaurants, a Club Lounge, a Cafe Bar, a lavish lobby and extensive meeting rooms. With the recent renovation, every single detail in the room and suites of the hotel has been upgraded, with brand new beds (exceptionally comfortable), remotely controlled lighting, curtains, DND, an overall brighter colour palette of furnishings, curtains and carpets. Bathrooms have also been fully revamped. SmartTvs, a wide variety of socks, plugs, a sound unit and highest speed complimentary wi-fi are some of the additional features.
Despite a 95% occupancy during my stay, I could never feel that staff may be overwhelmed – all of them exuded a sense of control (‘being firmly in control’) extending a particular feeling of safety and being taken care of. From the Front Office to House-Keeping, the hotel runs like a Swiss watch, with a genuine smile and a most effortless and kind engagement subtly discussing with guests their plans for the day.
Breakfast in the main restaurant and in the Club Lounge is probably the best I have had in a long time – with a superb quality of foods (not snacks), including some iconic Hungarian dishes ‘sneaked’ among the international offerings. It has been a while since I could grasp that breakfast is not just a rushed meal of the day but a meal guests take time to enjoy and interact with each other and hotel staff.
What is most impressive is that over 40% of staff have been with the hotel for over 4 decades – I was most impressed how they actually interacted like a genuine family. Loyalty and a proud feel to be part of the team has made Hilton Budapest a dream for many youngsters entering the hospitality business.
Without the Loyalty Program, Hilton Budapest could easily be a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental Hotel. To me, I also felt that beyond premium / upscale / luxury brands, Hilton still boasts an incredible power as an iconic brand which, depending on location, it can be a top business hotel or, like in the case of Hilton Budapest, a luxury property and a landmark of service and architecture in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Last, but not least, it is the magnetic, ‘picture perfect’ view from the large windows which create a memory that will last forever and will make people return. This serenity and peace, with large boasts passing by but also seeing the city from above, made it hard for me to leave the room.
With a revamp of the Lang Restaurant menu and the addition (for the very first time) of a Sky Bar on the rooftop of the hotel are just some of the exciting novelties returning guests will discover on their return.
Oliver Petcu in Budapest
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