Le Méridien Budapest’s
Le Méridien Budapest
As a Budapest first-timer, the proximity to the attractions of the city that Le Méridien Budapest offered was invaluable. Armed with my Budapest transport card and map (which takes a while to master – in Budapest a lot of the streets sound the same!), exploring the city was easy. Within minutes I was amid the bustling Vörösmarty Square, perusing the shops on Váci Utca (the city’s equivalent of London’s Oxford Street) and strolling alongside the mighty River Danube, which separates Buda and Pest.
With so much history and culture surrounding the hotel, it was fitting that the hotel itself had its own story to tell. Formerly known as Adria Palace, an apartment and office building designed in 1913, the building has been declared a historic monument. As a building designed in the Secession era (a branch of Art Nouveau, inspired by natural forms) wrought iron balconies, ornate chandeliers and arched windows gives the hotel an aura of elegance. The most eye-catching feature is the giant, stained-glass dome that overlooks the atrium, with its grand chandelier hanging from its centre.
I stayed in an executive suite, which included a lounge area with sofas, big double bed and a generously-sized bathroom with a large bath and walk-in power shower. The room boasted all the mod-cons: TV (this room had two!), HiFi and a range of teas and coffees. With neutral décor, the overall look was clean, corporate and comfortable.
As we were in Hungary we were naturally curious about the traditional cuisine. We had tried a hearty paprika chicken and vegetable concoction at the Christmas market but sampling Hungary’s gastronomic delights in the high-end restaurant – Le Bourbon – was another matter. The restaurant serves French cuisine but does have a section on the menu of Hungarian classics, which is what we opted for.
We began with a starter of home-made foie gras terrine and cold smoked goose breast, freshly fried Makó onion and grilled seed toast whilst we sipped the Hungarian classic wine Tokaj (almost port-like in taste). On the whole the dish was a touch too sweet for my tastes, but nonetheless tasty.
The main course, however, really hit the mark. I devoured the grilled beef tenderloin topped with grilled goose liver and served with fresh Hungarian lecsó (a ratatouille-like mixture of peppers, paprika and tomatoes) and roasted sliced potato. A positively giant dessert followed – somlói galuska – a decadent, trifle-like dessert of sponge cakes, cream and chocolate sauce. As much as I wanted to gobble every last spoonful, by this stage I was ready to go lie down! The whole meal was a brilliant insight into Hungarian cuisine.
One of the other plus points of my stay at Le Méridien Budapest was the hotel’s spa and health centre, complete with a small gym, pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and treatment rooms. As I visited in December, I especially enjoyed warming up in the sauna and steam room and it was a great way to relax after sightseeing in the crisp, winter weather.
Le Méridien Budapest proved to be ideal for a city break – its enviable location and amenities made for a great stay but the one thing that really made it memorable was the delightful staff. From the moment I arrived to the moment I left, I was treated to five-star service, complete with a smile.
By Sarah Gibbons