Some of you may remember that I did not have the easiest trip from Vienna to Budapest. I did finally arrive at the Keleti station in Pest where then I had to navigate getting a taxi. I was not up to trying to figure out public transit. Turns out I could have walked, but what I really needed was just to take cab and be in my hotel and regroup.
Taxi’s are not regulated in Budapest so unless you are extremely lucky in getting a metered taxi from the train station or you have the number of a local taxi dispatch and speak Hungarian you will have to pay three times the amount to have a nice (if criminal) taxi driver take you to your hotel.
I suppose there could be something sexy about having a handsome Hungarian man have his way with you, as you sit in the back seat of his taxi and he drives you all over town finally dumping you in front of your fancy hotel when he’s through (obviously, he thinks, if you can afford to stay here, you don’t mind paying $20 for a ride that should cost $5). This was my splurge hotel this trip. And it wasn’t even really a splurge because the Corinthia Budapest was having a sale: stay 3 nights pay for 2. Also hotels in Budapest in general are way under priced for Europe.
I was able to get a room, on the executive floor for 141.33 Euro ($181.83) a night which is a deal when you include breakfast, free snacks and drinks all day, early evening cocktails free spa admittance and a coffee maker in your room! To give you some perspective: the Marriott Courtyard in Poughkeepsie goes for $189. Now I ask you Budapest or Poughkeepsie? Executive floor with a view of Pest or Poughkeepsie and a view of parking lot? You decide.
Out of the cab I tumble and into this grand old hotel, all polish and elegance. I walk up to the very handsome young man at the desk who speaks impeccable English and give him my passport.
“I printed out the paper with my reservation on it if you….”
“No need Mr. Owen. I do apologize, but the executive floor check-in is on the mezzanine, they are now with a guest now, so if you don’t mind I will be happy to check you in?”
You could tuck me in as well, I thought, but managed to compose myself and just smile. Then he utters those magical words every hotel and airline guests always dream of:
“We have upgraded you to a suite for your stay with us.”
Really? All I can think of is: Thank you GOD! In years of travel I have been upgraded at a hotel twice and one of those times was because I off handedly mentioned to the GM that I just got married.
He hands me my card key and off I go to my room, I mean suite.Here’s the deal. I’ve been very lucky in my life and have stayed in some very nice hotels, but I have only ever stayed in a hotel room, you know the large (ish if you are lucky) bedroom of your dreams type room? So I was totally unprepared for what I was about to walk into:From the foyer straight ahead is the guest bathroom to the right is the large living room to the left is the hallway to the bedroom.Two large closets, safe and drawers. The first drawer has a choice of china and coffee supplies for the coffee maker. and the bedroom which had the window with the aforementioned view. The living room, which I sat in exactly once, when I had some NYC friends over: There were two huge flat screen TV’s, really fast free WiFi and a super comfortable bed, probably the most comfortable bed I had the entire trip. Oh and I forgot to mention: next to the bedroom is the master bathroom, because well, you can never have too many bathrooms 😉 To say I was giddy would be an understatement.
The thing was it seemed like a waste for just little old me. I did manage to try to appreciate it as much as I possibly could for the three short nights I was there. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. I just wished Neil had been there along with several good friends so we could hang out and have cocktails and canapés in the suite’s living room!
With the exception of breakfast, I did not take advantage of any of the executive floor perks as I was too busy taking in Budapest. The breakfast buffet was perfectly fine, a nice choice of cereals, juices, made to order coffee, cold cuts, cheeses and steam trays with scramble eggs, breakfast meats, roast tomatoes and beans (for those insisting on a traditional British breakfast). The only thing I don’t remember seeing pancakes or waffles, which I don’t eat so didn’t miss.
The service was great and when I asked one morning if they made eggs to order she said:
“Certainly, we will make them anyway you like.”
Unlike most of the other 5 star properties in Budapest which are all in a hotel ghetto near the Chain Bridge: the Four Seasons, The Sofitel, The Intercontinental, the Kempinski, The Marriott and on and on which is great if you want to be near, tourists, but the Corinthia is brilliant because it’s actually in Pest, where actually Hungarians live. As fancy as the hotel is inside, outside they are keeping it mighty real. For New Yorkers the best way I can describe it is like someone built an Upper East Side Hotel in Williamsburg. You are right across the street from the hip and happening old jewish quarter that is crammed with bars, restaurants clubs and historical sites. I found this location much more to my liking with easier access to the things I wanted to be near. However I have to say Budapest is small, I found the entire city very walkable, so much so I never took the subway or tram at all and I am a big fan of using public transit when I am traveling. So location is not a huge issue, but I would warn against staying in Buda which was way to suburban and quiet for my liking.
I’m not sure why I was so fortunate to get this suite upgrade, it sure made my time in Budapest extra special, it also did make it hard for me to leave the hotel! Which I should also mention has an awesome spa and a small gym (for when you really don’t want to leave the hotel).
If you go to Budapest the Corinthia offers best 5 star deal in town, affordable luxury: who can say no to that? Or you could go to Poughkeepsie, up to you 😉