Thank goodness for networks. On the heels of an invitation to present at a couple of EPAA conferences in England this September, I was also invited to visit a friend in Berlin.
In between London and Berlin, I had a couple of days to spare and decided to explore a new-to-me locale. I settled on Budapest, having heard from others that it’s among the most beautiful cities in Europe.
The only question, though, was where to stay. That was soon solved, as I reached out to friends and readers on social media. Carla in Milan put me in touch with Corinna, whose work has seen her spend an extended stay in Budapest.
Corinna put me on to Kapital Inn, which is a boutique penthouse B&B in the popular Pest area of Budapest – and am I glad she did.
The Hosts: Albert and Paul
First, the hosts are terrific. I made the booking arrangements with Albert, who also coordinated rides to and from the airport. Since I don’t speak Hungarian, it was a bonus that we were able to communicate in flawless English during the booking process and then once I arrived in Budapest.
Jani was my driver and, enroute from the airport to Kapital Inn, he not only made me feel welcome in his city; he also coached me (Kösz, Jani!) in pronouncing a couple of key Hungarian phrases.
On arrival at this 19th century residence in the 6th District, Paul greeted us and expertly hauled my suitcase up the elegant staircase to a welcoming and impeccably clean two bedroom suite. Here you see the building courtyard, and a glimpse of the gorgeous, warm weather we enjoyed in early October.
We dropped my bags in the deluxe two-bedroom suite and made our way back to the spacious kitchen I’d admired on the way in. Settling in at the island, with the sun streaming in through the windows behind me, Paul asked a few questions about my plans for this brief visit to Budapest.
Paul listened to my ideas and then proceeded, with expertise and patience born of practice, to highlight some must see spots in the city … and walking routes that would help me reach them. With my vision not what it was in my 20s, I marked up the map even more!
Kapital Inn occupies two upper floors of the building, and my room – the deluxe suite – is one of six different options. There are also four double rooms, and a king room. At 65 square metres/699 square feet, the deluxe suite is larger than many Vancouver condos (flats).
The ceilings are high and the double doors leading into this particular suite hint at the elegant stay you’ll enjoy. This is an old building, and the hosts have done a masterful job of updating the decor without undermining the building’s character. Entering the suite, the foyer has a water closet on one side, and a sleek, contemporary shower, sink and floor to ceiling storage cabinet on the other. Every room other than the water closet had windows, a treat for natural light lovers such as me.
Remember, this isn’t a hotel; it’s a B&B in a residential neighbourhood where some apartments have been passed down from one generation to another in the same family. This is a neighbourhood, not a setting developed for tourists. The high ceilings and tall windows lent a gracious air to the suite; click below for a mini tour.
About the Location
Readers visiting Budapest for the first time will want to consider whether they’ll stay in Buda, on the hilly side of the Danube River, or in Pest, as I did.
I found Pest highly walkable, and made my way from Kapital Inn down to the Danube on the first night. I could have taken the nearby Millennium subway line, but preferred to walk – especially after spending much of the day in airports and on a plane. Strolling down Andrássy Avenue (Ut), there were a number of appealing shops and plenty of restaurants from which to choose.
It was clear that Hungarians appreciate the arts, and that the locals are spoiled with incredible architecture. I visited this city solo and, while never taking safety for granted, was comfortable even as I made my way to the Budapest Eye and then down to the waterfront to enjoy the spectacle of lights created by the Chain Bridge, Parliament, Buda Castle and more.
Private Rooftop Terrace for Guests
Before heading out on the town on night one, I checked out out the private 600 square foot terrace. Tucked into a cozy, covered area of the terrace, you have additional seating and a flat screen tv. There’s so much to see in Budapest that it would have to be a pretty special game or event to find me watching television in this outdoor setting … although I will own up to turning on the tv in my suite at one point, and giggling through a couple of minutes of The Flintstones in Hungarian!
A subtly social environment
Sometimes, you like to be left alone while travelling. Other times, it’s nice to find common ground with fellow travellers – and that’s what happened after the first night of exploring Pest. I brought a late (Italian!, from a good restaurant my host recommended) dinner home and, despite having my own dining room table, decided to enjoy it in the elegant kitchen. A few minutes later, in walked Ian and Leeza along with Leeza’s dad. Ironically, since I’d been in Manchester just a few days earlier, this group hailed from Preston, about 30 minutes away from that historic and energetic English city. We wound up enjoying one another’s company on the rooftop, and toasting the beauty of the city.
During a lovely breakfast Paul prepared the next morning, conversation with a different group of guests was brief and friendly. They were on their way out the door, and I had some work to do before day two of my explorations. Kapital Inn has an office that guests are welcome to use, but I was more than happy to work away in “my” living room, with the gentle sun streaming in over my shoulders. Here’s another look inside this B&B, beginning with the end of the climb up the stairs.
So much to see – and it’s all accessible
Here’s a mere sampling of some of the sights I enjoyed in Budapest, including the famous art deco New York Cafe – which understandably bills itself as the most beautiful cafe in the world. I’ll be sharing more posts and photos from this trip, so know that these are just the first of a few.
Burn off those Hungarian treats
There are 91 of those steps up the beautiful staircase with wrought iron railings, by the way. The good news is that they’re more than worth it – and will help burn off any Hungarian meals or treats you enjoy while visiting Budapest!
An early farewell
I was determined to see Budapest’s Great Market Hall before leaving and, with an early morning flight, my hosts and Jani were gracious in coordinating a 5:45 a.m. departure from the B&B. That enabled me to take a walk through the Market as vendors were setting up for the day. Then, knowing of my interest in photography, Jani suggested pulling over again so I could capture the nearby Liberty Bridge at a rare quiet moment. These made for some of my favourite shots of this visit, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness.
Would I Stay There Again?
In a heartbeat.
Planning To Go: The Lowdown
Getting there: I flew from London to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, which is a good half hour+ ride from the city proper.
A cab ride will cost roughly 30 Euros / $44 CAD / $35 US / 9,353 HUF, also known as the Hungarian Forint. As above, I went for the option of a prearranged ride, at a rate of 30 Euros. You can get more info on directions by clicking here.
Property coordinates: Website: Click here Address: Budapest, Aradi u. 30, 1062 Phone: +36 30 915 2029
Practicalities: Get used to converting your currency to Euros, or from Euros to HUF, and to calculations. Both currencies are accepted, but you’d be wise to convert some of your funds to HUF early on during your stay. Looking at a menu and seeing items running in the 8,000 HUF range can be disconcerting at first for people accustomed to dealing in dollars, GBP or Euros. Once you do the conversion, though, you’ll see prices are actually reasonable.
Reviews: It’s little wonder that Corinna highly recommended the property to me, or that Trip Advisor gives it a five star rating … and that it’s the top rated of all 191 B&B properties in the city.
Kapital Inn: I’m sure I’m not the only guest who appreciate the presence of a phone in the foyer, along with Albert’s and Paul’s phone numbers at the ready. This came in very handy. Thank you for making this stay possible; I’m looking forward to returning!
As always, perspectives are entirely my own.