Art’otel Budapest, on the banks of the River Danube, is a hotel that wears two faces. From the front you’ll enter a flat, modern stone and glass frontage similar to many a modern city centre hotel. But behind the sleek facade, there’s a softer and more charming side, where you’ll find rows of pretty, pastel coloured 18th century townhouses that have been cleverly joined to the modern frontage by a glass atrium and a pretty courtyard where you can enjoy a drink al fresco.
As the name suggests, Art’otel has another big difference from the average city hotel. Like other branches of the Art’otel family, Art’otel Budapest features the work of a single artist, in this case the contemporary American artist, Donald Sultan. You’ll find his work throughout the public spaces and bedrooms, from the graphic black bird mural behind reception, to the softer abstract eggs and roses painting by the bar, to the domino and paying cards series of prints in the corridors.
Art’otel is a small hotel group, with seven Art’otel branches in mainly German cities such as Dresden, Berlin and Cologne and new openings planning in London and Amsterdam. The hotels were founded by a German art collector and each hotel features the paintings, prints and sculptures of a different artist such as American Andy Warhol, German Georg Baselitz and Korean SEO. The work of Donald Sultan at Art’otel Budapest has both realistic and abstract tendancies – sometimes graphic and stark using black bitumen, other times more naturalistic with colourful fruit, flowers and butterflies. In the lobby with its green velvet squashy sofas, there’s a sculpture of rounded off grey cones piled into a tower. You can even take an art tour with one of the hotel staff and be presented with a glossy catalogue about the works of the artist as if at a gallery opening. The concept of the hotel is to bring the art gallery to you, and with the small information plaques about each artwork, I half expected to some of those little red ‘sold’ dots as well.
But how does Art’otel fare in it’s role as a hotel? Although those pretty old painted houses do soften the look, the hotel will appeal to those looking for comfort and modern style, rather than anything traditional or romantic. There are 165 rooms, and the artwork and individual style of each hotel give the hotel a strong personality, with public areas that are light and pleasant. There is a large bar area where guests are welcome to bring their laptops, a small outdoor courtyard bar and a spacious restaurant in two parts; the Chelsea restaurant that is double height and airy with glass walls and roof, and the adjoining drawing room that is darker and more intimite, where breakfast was served.
The bedrooms are all furnished on a modern black and red theme and we found our room to be spacious with comfortable twin mattresses on the bed, plenty of cupboard space and the usual mini bar, TV and safe. The cream tiled bathroom with bath and shower above, and stainless steel sink set in granite top was also very clean and modern with very nice Yves Rocher toiletries. Give me a comfortable bed and nice smellies with a bit of original artwork and I can take or leave the satellite channels and mini-bar drinks although others may beg to differ. The hotel also offers free wifi at a speed that I found perfectly acceptable and if you require faster speeds, you can upgrade to the paid internet service.
We enjoyed the view over the River Danube towards the Hungarian Parliament building, although I expect the view to the rear up to the Castle district which is floodlit at night would also have been equally charming. The staff were friendly and helpful,with that slightly reserved air that you tend to find among those who have grown up under communism, but they couldn’t have been more accommodating when I asked them to weigh every single item of our luggage to be sure we wouldn’t breach our Ryanair baggage allowances.
The only area where the hotel slightly fell down for me was the dinner we ate on the Saturday night we were there, where the well priced set menu option was a little disappointing and my children fared better with the pasta and goulash they chose from the main menu featuring a mix of European, Asian and Hungarian dishes. I’d say that the hotel is not a gastronomic destination but more of a base to go and eat out in some the restaurants in the castle district behind or across the river. Having said that, the waiting staff were cheerful and charming with us all and the breakfast had an excellent buffet spread of all the normal options of fruit, cereals, pastries and cold meat and cheeses with some hot dishes too. As the breakfast cost is €14 per person, it’s worth looking for a room rate that includes breakfast but if you’re not a great breakfast eater there was a pleasant small kiosk cafe, as an alternative, in the square behind the hotel. The light and airy glass Chelsea restaurant is beautiful and we preferred to sit there in the evening than the darker low ceilinged drawing room where breakfast is served.
For location you couldn’t do much better for a hotel situated on the Buda side of the city. You need brush up on your history to realise that Budapest is really two cities that have merged together and the Buda side is where you’ll find the cobbled streets and the picturesque castle district set on the hill, whereas the Pest side features broad boulevards, leafy parks and turn of the century buildings with more of the commercial and shopping districts. From the back of the hotel, you can climb up through winding alleys and in 10 minutes be at the Fisherman’s Bastion and St Matthius church with amazing views over the Danube and Pest side of the city. If you want to cross over to the Pest side it’s easy enough with a walk over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge or find the Batthayany Ter metro stop 5 minutes walk away.
Overall I’d highly recommend Art’Otel Budapest as a stylish, modern hotel with great artwork and helpful staff that is ideal for a business or leisure break and is very well situated for sightseeing in Budapest. We were kindly offered a discounted media rate by Art’otel Budapest, but I estimate that the Danube view room we stayed in would have been €130-150 on a Saturday night for 2 people including breakfast, and recommend that you look for a rate that includes breakfast which will otherwise cost €14 per person.
Bem Rakpart 16-19, 1011 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36 (1) 487 9487
Fax: +36 (1) 487 9488
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