The Hilton sits smack-bang next to the extravagant Matthias Church in the main square of the Castle District. Its elevated position means that the views over the river to the Parliament building are eye-popping. It’s around 15 minutes from the centre of Pest (by taxi or bus 16 to Deák tér); you can also ride up and down the hill aboard a funicular railway.
While the exterior is daring, the interior is more understated. Guestrooms are pleasant in a neutral sort of way, with a colour scheme featuring browns, beiges and creams rather than anything too bold. In terms of size, they occupy the middle ground too. The standard rooms look onto the Castle District, but to make the most of the hotel’s biggest selling point you should book a river-facing Hilton Plus room. There’s something decadent about cleaning your teeth at the end of the day while watching the city’s lights! Rooms have all you need, although there is a charge for internet access. If you take an executive room, you get to use the excellent executive lounge, whose offerings include free drinks and canapés in the evening.
I find the lobby disappointing. There’s no central feature, the ceilings are low and there’s something of the ‘conference hotel’ about it (albeit a conference hotel at the upper end of the bracket). Having said that, if you walk to the left on entering you can look over the remains of the 13th-century Dominican courtyard – now used for private functions and events – which isn’t something you come across in every hotel you visit!
Eating and drinking
The new ICON restaurant serves some of the city’s best food. Its menu focuses on Mediterranean and Hungarian dishes, and a pianist tickles the ivories as you dine. Try to bag one of the 16 tables nestled in niches alongside the river-facing windows. The small but generally lively Lobby Bar is – you guessed it – just off the lobby (overlooking the Dominican courtyard), and is a decent spot for a pre-prandial drink or a digestif.
The hotel has a small fitness centre with a panoramic window overlooking the river. It contains the usual cardio equipment, a sauna, a solarium and a massage room, but joggers might prefer to take a more atmospheric turn around the Castle District itself. There’s no pool or spa.
Service is good; I’ve always found the restaurant staff are attentive without hovering uncomfortably at your shoulder. On occasion, the reception can be busy, but you don’t usually have to wait long to check in or out.
Who stays there
The hotel hosts the occasional celebrity – A-listers like Robert Redford have stayed here; otherwise you'll see a broad range that includes suited business types and tourist groups in jeans and T-shirts.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Business travellers
- Culture vultures
- Escaping the crowds
- Great views / scenery
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Location and views
- No swimming pool
- No 'wow' factor in the public areas