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Budapest

The Best Hotels in Budapest

There’s a reason why some of the world’s best river cruise itineraries ply past Budapest—with its palaces and castles and well-preserved Art Nouveau architecture, Hungary’s romantic capital city couldn't be more photogenic if it tried. Throw in Danube river views and iconic bathhouses fed by thermal springs, and this “Paris of the East” truly lives up to its name. Whether you stay in Buda, on the West side of the river, or Pest to the East, you can’t go wrong with a stay at one of Budapest’s five best hotels.

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Aria

You might guess from its name, but the Aria takes its “inspired by music” mantra seriously. Four wings in a former 1870s bank building have been renamed by their genres—classical, opera, contemporary, and jazz—and their rooms follow suit. The Romeo and Juliet suite, for example, has its own balcony, while the Elvis comes with a king bed. Elsewhere, Bob Dylan, Bach, Billie Holliday, and Whitney Houston make appearances. Designer Zoltan Varro did not overlook a single detail when choosing art and objets: Jazz rooms take a page from the Roaring Twenties, while Classical and Opera rooms take on a Baroque air. Of course, the staff—including a hotel music director—go to great pains to secure the city's most sought-after music moments, like opera tickets or live music performances for on-site marriage proposals. In addition to a rooftop bar and garden, there’s a Music Garden lounge with its own grand piano, the jazz-themed restaurant Satchmo’s, and upscale dining at the aptly named Stradivari.

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Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace

It's easy to think the location—on the Pest side of the Chain Bridge overlooking the Danube—is the Four Seasons Gresham Palace's biggest selling point. But its a different story, once you step inside. This carefully restored Art Nouveau icon is breathtaking, with its 19th-century stained glass, velvet upholstery, winter gardens, and mosaic-tile surfaces that extend from the indoor pool to the lobby. The 179 guest rooms feature parquet floors and high ceilings—the best of which look out over the river and Buda Castle just beyond.

RELATED: The Best European Spa Towns

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Corinthia Hotel Budapest

The Corinthia is another blue-blood-worthy sleep, whose French Renaissance-style façade is the 1896 original. The interiors are delightfully Old World—glass and wrought-iron ceilings; a colonnaded lobby; a grand staircase and restored ballroom—but the mod cons are blissfully current. In guest rooms, you’ll find everything from queen-size beds to marble bathrooms and, for executive rooms, access to an exclusive lounge that serves free drinks and snacks. The cuisine here is a more contemporary affair: the Brasserie and Bock Bistro serve up modern Hungarian specialties, the Rickshaw focuses on Indo-Asian dishes, and Szamos Marzipan Royal Café stocks a sweet selection of tarts and cakes. The pièce de résistance is the spa, with a pool that sits beneath a soaring double-height ceiling.

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Pest-Buda Hotel

First opened in 1696, Hungary’s oldest hotel is also one of its most atmospheric. You can’t pack much more personality into its 10 rooms, which feature one-off antiques like copper lamps, vintage suitcases, eclectic artwork, Hungarian oak floors, and limestone bathrooms with (if you’re in one of the suites) freestanding tubs. Downstairs, a classic bistro decked out like your grandma’s kitchen (think dog-eared recipe books and toile wallpaper) churns out home-style dishes like chicken paprikash and pike perch—all paired, if you’re lucky, with live accordion music. Keep an eye out for the Baroque brick roof and brickwork and marble around the central staircase—all original details from the 17th-century inn.

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Hotel Moments Budapest

The 19th-century building now occupied by Hotel Moments Budapest has lived many lives—first as a palace, then a movie theater, bank, nightclub, and, in its latest iteration, one of the city’s most stylish hotels. A careful renovation has preserved some of the original details—arched doorways; patterned ceilings—while adding an Art Deco vibe (geometric patterned rugs; giant headboards with Hungarian prints) to its 99 rooms, which surround a central courtyard lobby topped with a domed glass ceiling. There’s lots to love about the chic Bistro Fine restaurant, whether that’s the creative Hungarian menu or funky décor (including train headlights embedded in the bar counter and an odd white wall made of chest drawers). Sucker for a view? The lounge in the top-floor Andrássy Suite looks out over the Citadel and St. Stephen’s Basilica.

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Brody House

You might say Brody House, in Budapest’s creative Palace District, is more art gallery than hotel—and you wouldn’t be wrong. Each of the eight individual guest rooms is named after the artist its walls showcase: the Etienne, for example, features work by French artist Etienne Claret de Fleurieu as well as a headboard made out of doors, while the Tinei includes a mural by Moldo van artist Alex Tinei and its own gold claw-foot tub. As individual as your digs might be, they all share common details including rough-hewn walls, “upcycled” furniture built by in-house designers, and original townhouse details like high ceilings or ceramic ovens—not to mention access to the front desk’s endless knowledge of goings-on in the city. There may not be room service or a spa or gym on site, but few hotels in this city feel as home-like as the Brody.

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