When most people think of luxury travel, I doubt Eastern Europe pops into mind. At least it didn’t for me. But with so many Budapest travel guides mentioning how beautiful and picturesque the city is, it’s hard to deny the city’s charm. The Hungarian capital city is often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and where luxury travel is concerned—beauty is at the top of the list.
Luxury living in Budapest
Looking for a slightly romantic & relaxing escape from Berlin, we headed to Budapest for a long weekend. Though there are many types of accommodation in Budapest, we ultimately ended up at the 5-star Le Meridien hotel. Its location was perfect: near the main shopping street, steps from the metro and just across from the ultimate park for summer hangouts: Erzsébet tér.
Our welcome into the hotel set the tone for the weekend. The lobby—with its grandiose chandeliers and welcoming staff—matched the opulent Hungarian buildings we noticed on our ride into town. Arriving in the afternoon, we enjoyed a quick snack of chocolates and macaroons at the Le Meridien before starting our exploration of the city.
Walking outside the hotel, we headed straight for the Danube river. Though Berlin has a river and many canals, it just can’t compare to the grandeur of the Danube which flows through many of Europe’s most beautiful cities. We would end up finding our way back to the river each night of our long weekend trip.
Visiting the famous Budapest baths
Our second day in Budapest, we embraced the luxury lifestyle we’d heard so much about in Budapest: the baths & spas. Walking from the stunningly spacious Heroes Square, we found our way to the city’s most popular bath: Széchenyi Fürdő. Though we’d end up spending most of our afternoon there, the bath (albeit beautiful) was crowded and less-than-relaxing. With the intention of finding a peaceful and relaxing Budapest bath during our trip, we stumbled upon the Lukács Baths the next day—the same one that Angelina Jolie visited on her trip to Budapest. Now, I’m no Brad Pitt, but I know a nice spa when I see one!
Lukács wasn’t crowded, it wasn’t full of tourists and it wasn’t expensive. Indeed, it felt very exclusive but approachable. Though the baths are on the original Turkish site, the building is currently from the 1800s and is being renovated today. But with a small sauna, a large area for private massages and other spa amenities, Lukács was a welcome escape from the city life outside.
Eating (and drinking) in Budapest
Though we visited plenty of hipster places in Budapest (dive bars, markets with take-away langos, etc), because this was a sort of romantic escape (how could it not be with stunning 19th century opera houses & visits to the spa?!), we also splurged on some decent restaurants. Avoiding the touristic and over-priced restaurants on Budapest’s main shopping street, we headed north near Heroes Square. The square—which sits at the end of the very trendy Andrássy Avenue—dates from the 19th century and is bordered by two of the city’s most popular museums. Just a few blocks from Heroes Square, however, is Paprika Vendéglő.
Paprika—a personal favorite spice of mine—is used a lot in Hungarian cuisine. We ordered some traditional Hungarian foods at Paprika Vendéglő: goulash, spaetzle & the likes…and beer, of course. It’s not 5-star dining, but with a good budget you can enjoy a really fine meal here. And the terrace overlooking the city park across the street is wonderful for a summer evening.
Budapest seems to me a great destination for every type of traveler. From hip, trendy cave bars made out of found furniture to classy hotel bars serving champagne, Budapest has you covered. I enjoyed mixing up both styles during my long weekend in Hungary. And with a bit of exploring around the Budapest baths & spas, finding luxury was easy, fun and surprisingly affordable.
Luxury Budapest weekend guide
• Le Meridien • Erzsebet Ter 9-10 • lemeridienbudapest.com
• Paprika Vendéglő • Dózsa György út 72 • paprikavendeglo.hu
• Lukacs Baths • Frankel Leo utca 25-29 • lukacsbath.com[/box]
Disclosure: my stay at the Le Meridien Budapest was in partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, though all opinions are my own.
Budapest seems to have everything to make it a really beautiful travel destination. Especially love those huge baths!!
Have a nice day Adam :)
The baths in Budapest are really worthy of their own separate trip! There are several that I wanted to see but only had time to visit two. Another time!
I love love love this city and am so glad to hear you had such a good time there! :)
Thanks Cheryl. Your travel tips for Budapest were a big help, too!
Budapest is our favorite European city! We just fell in love with it and try to return often. You’ve given us some new spots to check out – Paprika and the Lukács Baths – on our next visit.
Definitely try the food at Paprika! It’s affordable and tasty :)
I really enjoyed the Lukács Baths and there are several others I wanted to check out, too – on my next visit!
Oh yes, that pool. That’s where I want to go.
I stayed 5 star when I visited Budapest too. It’s hard not to when it’s so cheap! Looks like you guys had a great time. :)
Thanks Andrea. Budapest really is an affordable city—and it’s easy to find luxury there!
[…] a little curious to take a weekend trip to Budapest. Despite hearing repeatedly how beautiful and luxurious the city is, I’d heard plenty about Hungary—and specifically Budapest—as a gay […]
Szechenyi was really packed as well when we went a few days later – the reason being that all the sziget tourists were there and they had a discount with their ticket. You should go again in the winter when theres snow around the thermal pools.
Yeah, I saw people all over town with the Sziget wristbands—didn’t realize they got a discount at the bath, too! Visiting Budapest in the winter is definitely high on my list. The whole time I was at the baths all I could think of was how cool it’d be to be there during the winter!
I have not been to Budapest but seems like one of those destinations that I must go. It is on my list of places I wish to go. I didn’t realise they were big on spas and baths.
Budapest is a beautiful city. If you’re in Europe, I’d definitely recommend it as a place to visit.
Love the Széchenyi Fürdő baths – I’d go just for that!
I spent more hours than I was originally planning to at Széchenyi… a whole visit centered around the many Budapest baths and spas would be amazing!
Paprika is one of my favorite spices. Love that the restaurant is named for it — and really like the old-style neon sign!
Paprika is a favorite spice of mine, too. Pretty versatile and a great flavor!
Love that there’s a restaurant called Paprika — one of my favorite spices!
Le Meridian always delivers…great stuff!
Indeed they do! Which Le Meridien properties have you been to?
Ok, now I really, REALLY want to go to Budapest! I’ve heard from many people about the great baths and cool charm. I had been researching a trip last spring but the timing didn’t work out. Maybe this fall! When I was looking at train prices from Berlin before it was actually pretty reasonable! Did you find the city far less touristy than Prague? (Prague is a circus in the summer!)
You really should get to Budapest! It’s not far from Berlin at all.
And yes, I thought it was much less touristic than Prague. It seems more “livable” but the main areas of the city are still pretty crowded with tourists—just not nearly as overwhelming as Prague.
How am I just finding your site now?! Planning a trip from Istanbul to Berlin with stops in Budapest, among other cities, and your stuff is right up my alley…
Aww hi Susan!
Glad you’ve found the site useful. Let me know if you’re looking for any specific tips. I’ve got heaps of info on Berlin :)
We are heading to Budapest in a couple of weeks. Besides the 2 baths and Paprika can you recommend anything else to see and do? After Budapest we will be spending 5 days in Berlin. Any recommendations in Berlin would be great too.
Hey Susan, It’s a great time of year to be in Budapest and Berlin! You can check out the city guide I’ve got for Berlin in the navigation above.
Some of my other Budapest tips can be found here.