Executive travel: Classic style and affordable dining at Budapest’s Boscolo Hotel
If you want to impress your business friends with a famous address in Budapest, then look no further than the classical palace known as the Boscolo Hotel that started life 120 years ago as the headquarters of the New York Insurance Company.
This exuberantly opulent hotel is part of the Autograph Collection by Marriott, so you can collect its reward points for staying or redeem them for a stay.
You also get to take your breakfast in the gilded-baroque New York Cafe, billed as the “world’s most beautiful cafe”, although it’s a little too popular as a tourist attraction during the day. But hotel guests have it to themselves first thing in the morning for a buffet breakfast of the finest Hungarian fare.
The 185 rooms are something of a bargain by most international standards, and there’s a 138-apartment residence attached to the hotel. Our superior 40-square-metre room came with a slightly shabby marble bathroom, king-size bed and silk-lined walls for a mere Dh630 per night.
There was a smallish desk with three continental plugs and an adapter. The internet clocked 8.8 Mbps, although central Budapest has the fastest internet in Europe, so no surprises there.
The two presidential suites are about €3,000 (Dh11,790) and 135 and 142 square metres, making them among the largest in the city. They are recently refurbished with Murano chandeliers and Italian marble floors and bathrooms.
Fancy some room service while you work? A burger with fries costs €14 and a club sandwich €13; local water or fresh orange juice was €7.
Sadly the Deepwater gastronomic restaurant in the same flashy fin-de-siècle style as the New York Cafe was closed. However, the cafe serves a good evening four-course menu as an alternative for €52.
You are also surrounded by other restaurant options, as Budapest is renowned for its Michelin-starred offerings as well as more humble bistros. My favourite on this trip was the family-owned Zeller Bistro, with a succulent venison fillet steak for €13.
q&a points scored for service
Peter Cooper reveals other points of note about Budapest’s Boscolo Hotel:
How about meeting rooms?
You are spoiled for choice among the 20 meeting rooms that range from a seven-seater business lounge with tea and coffee facilities and two Microsoft PCs, of which only one was working – this is complimentary – and I used it for a couple of private meetings – up to a ballroom that can seat 550. The New York Cafe – once popular with Hungarian writers, journalists and politicians – also has two swanky private function rooms still often used for press events.
On the top floor is a basic gym with three running machines, two bikes, stepper, weights and multigym. For those in search of relaxation, the extensive subterranean spa has a plunge pool and sauna complex; a massage costs €100.
Are the staff up to scratch?
Staff standards are universally praised in hotel reviews. Indeed, the hotel scored the most 10-out-of-10 scores in TripAdvisor that I can recall. This is the old-fashioned quiet and efficient sort of service, not the overfamiliar kind that asks you where you come from. I found the room a bit cold to start with and when an attempt to fix this failed, the front desk quickly showed me two alternatives, moving me without any fuss.
Apart from the first room being too cold, and in January Budapest really was freezing, the safe needed repairing. It was quickly done, and a coffee machine would have been nice rather than Nescafe in packets.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter