Of all the things Budapest has to offer, you might be surprised to hear the one thing it has an abundance of—American tourists. Such visitors were present on a recent visit over the long weekend ending August 20, which is when Hungary celebrates St. Stephen's Day (the former Communist country's equivalent of the Fourth of July).
Along the Danube, mixing well among the locals enjoying the specially commissioned music, events and markets for the occasion, Americans are roaming the streets, shopping in the city's newly established fashion district and eating at Gerbeaud Ház, the city's famed pastry and coffee shop.
I know Americans are beginning to flock there because Julien Carralero, general manager at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, where I stayed, tells me that 60 percent of his guests are American leisure travelers.
Since 2004, when the Four Seasons there opened its doors, tourists have marched in and out of the hotel to admire the detail-oriented renovation, as well as the hotel's stunning lobby, though the 179-room hotel is rarely at full occupancy.
The building itself has a rich history that spans a life as a luxury apartment building and insurance offices, and it was sadly in a state of neglect before the Four Seasons took it over and renovated it. The hotel is so breathtakingly beautiful that it has won awards not only for its rooms and service but also for its design.
Experiencing the Hotel
Indeed, my room, 129, a Standard King that overlooked the
Though there are larger suites at the hotel, the best room
to book is one of the Park Suites on the third floor, which are made up of one
large room, complete with several sitting areas and a desk. What makes this
room great is the positioning of the bed, which directly faces the window that
opens up to a fantastic view of the
Also easing me into relaxation was the helpful staff, particularly Magdi, my masseuse at the hotel's spa, who dutifully worked out the kinks in my shoulders.
A delicious dinner and wine pairing at the hotel's
restaurant, Páva, rounded out my first day. At the restaurant, simple pleasures
such as tomato soup, asparagus risotto with truffles, and chocolate molten cake
were filling enough to carry me through three hours of private car sightseeing
the next day, which was graciously arranged by the hotel's concierge. Such an
extravagance isn't necessary, as the hotel is located near the famous
If it sounds as though I was pampered during this stay, well—I was. What else would you expect from the Four Seasons?
Room rates at this time of year average 350 euros. For more
information, agents can contact Sherryn Bates, director of sales and marketing
for the hotel, at +36 1 268 6000 or [email protected]. For