Well, Rog spoiled me on this one. Yeah, I liked the villa in Verona, as much as I hated the cramped, awful place in Bellagio, but one was country living, the other was city, which were polar opposites, good and bad. With the apartment he found in Hungary, I have the best of both: space and convenience! Not an easy balance to strike when you are also wanting a reasonable deal.
View from our corner apartment down to the restaurant-filled lane below
Let’s talk numbers
Four days, three nights in this three-bedroom, two bath top floor in Budapest, one block for atelier shopping and seven minutes tops (about four blocks) from the central square in Old Town was roughly five hundred Euros. What a steal. Parking wasn’t included, and that was another 60 Euro, so all in, less than 600. Holy cow. Love Budapest! We had one of the best brunch restaurants twenty feet from our doorstep, on the corner of a pedestrian-only lane, which also has two eateries for gluten and vegetarian diners, but also a pub with billiards. Around the corner is Robert Maar boutique, and we met him, had clothes custom made for Rog, and I even picked up two handmade designs by Robert as well.
I’m going to cover the downtown, riverboats, parliament and other subjects separately, since this focus of this blog is to 1) demystify Budapest as a scary, big down for those of you who have shied away from going to the country and 2) show you what can be had for really affordable prices.
View to the pedestrian-only lane (UL), the sitting room (two couches on either side not pictured) (UR) the dining room.
Three bedrooms, one came with girls, too pooped to get out of bed
The building and atrium
Like all structures downtown, zero space exists between buildings. Just two down from us was another undergoing complete reconstruction, the new apartments Euro-modern, not old town. Aside from that is a graffiti-lace building that has yet to undergo a transformation. The units are designated by simple numbers (10-12) per block, so you just locate the number and you are set. Each has electronic pads for entry, then the 12’ high doors open wide. Marble floors, a lift (or elevator as we call it in the States) or the flight up. Being on the sixth floor, what do you think we did once our bags were inside? Walk, of course. Rog just doesn’t feel good about our massive caloric intake unless we get in our stairs.
It’s a beautiful hike though. A wide, 40×40 (at least) bottom floor, open garden is in the middle, and every floor landing has baskets with fresh flowers around the perimeter. The glass elevator is lovely, and we used it when hauling our bags, or when I was simply too pooped to party up those stairs.
Street view in the other direction. See the dome beyond? That’s the magistrate building in Old Town, where the carousel, main Piazza and grand Cathedral are located.
Gates, bars and three locks
Quite a few of the front doors are elegantly designed, and lack a single piece of metal for security purposes. Ours, however, is double doors, the first entry point all metal (in white, matching the door). This was one lock. Then to the door itself, which had two. Nothing is getting past this fortress. Once inside the top-floor, corner unit, we understood why. It’s straight out of the pre-soviet era, when structures were tall and grand. Actually, perhaps they are still that way—we wouldn’t know, but to our new-to-Budapest-eye, it was better than the pictures on Expedia (I think this was on both VRBO and Expedia, but we got a better deal on the Expedia).
As you can see from the pictures, inlaid wood floors, chandeliers which we learned were custom made for this apartment – I should have taken a close up—lilies in different colors accent the lighting in each room save the living room, a nice detail. Care is taken for the floor-to-ceiling drapes, the silk pattern in the living heavy and rich, whereas those in the large kitchen is yellows with a floral print. Yeah, I know this is a lot of info, but it’s worth noting. When you’re on the road for a while, or if it’s your one trip a year, you want the experience to be memorable. Would you rather pay four grand a night at the Four Seasons, or go for two weeks on that same amount of money and have this type of authentic, Hungarian experience? The good news is you have the option and know it’s attainable if you want it.
Best brunch we had–three days out of the four!
What I liked best
The convenience, cost, elegance, safety and vibe of the area. Oh! I can’t forget Café Brunch Budapest. It has several locations, one just below our apartment on the corner. We literally came back from Austria one day (about an hour drive) to get more blueberry muffins for Porsche, they were that good. (we got six).
The café (UL), how fried eggs are made in Hungary (meat added) and the mother-of-muffins which we crossed country lines to get.
What I liked least
This building has a few rentals like ours, but most units are privately owned. Our internet was the worst we’ve had in a month of travel—so bad I couldn’t load a single thing—not a picture or a document at all. We learned from the management that the owner is paying 300 Euro a month for service: Rog told him he was getting raked. Television reception was also horrid, which was too bad since the flat screens were monstrous and deserved to be used. But both were ok; I took a break from doing anything productive, and the lack of tv ensured we got out early and went to bed when we got home.