Hilton Budapest WestEnd Review
Attached to the huge and hugely popular WestEnd Center shopping mall, a nondescript glass-and-steel arc wrapping around the back of Gustav Eifel’s soaring Nyugati train station, the hotel blends into its surroundings. Although it is by far the newest building on the venerable Váci út, its simple brick design belies the modern four-star hotel within. An attractive lobby and attentive staff beckon.
WHERE IS IT?
Situated in the center of the business district, the Hilton WestEnd is convenient for meetings and touring. The views overlooking the Nyugati train station are grand. The hotel is connected to what might be the largest indoor mall in Europe (the WestEnd City Center), itself refreshing in its lack of American-style blandness. It is a quick walk to the Duna (Danube), where crossing one of the many bridges takes you to Buda, the aristocratic capital, where the views from Géllerthegy (Gellert Hill) and the tiny streets of Castle Hill await.
The hotel was full, with the Hungarian Formula 1 race in town, as was the garage, and we probably got the last available room. When I entered the room, its somewhat diminutive size gave me pause (the sleeping area looked not much bigger than the bath and entranceway), but the designers created a most comfortable environment despite the space limitations. For me, beyond a comfortable bed, a hotel room needs to have good lighting, especially for reading in bed, a desk with easy access to power points for electricity and the Internet, and a comfortable desk chair. The hotel excelled in these areas; during my stay, I participated in several conference calls (using Voice-over-IP on my laptop) and I was almost as comfortable as in my office back home. The room also has a color television, voicemail, a minibar, bathrobe, slippers, iron and ironing board, a coffee/tea maker, lots of closet space, (wired) Internet access, and a fairly easy-to-use climate control. The executive lounge on the 4th floor provides a staff member who can assist with any detail (my key stopped working and she replaced it without my having to go to the front desk), plus a café that offers complimentary sandwiches, desserts, beer, wine, soda, and coffee. An adjoining roof deck/lounge provides outdoor café-style seating with views of the Buda Hills, castles, and parliament. Executive Floor guests receive private check-in/out in the lounge, and international daily newspapers and magazines. Wireless Internet access in the lounge is free.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
After having an iced coffee in the café, I didn’t want to leave. The café featured a full menu including traditional Hungarian favorites such as gulyás (goulash), a soupy peasant staple of stewed beef, vegetables and lots of paprikás. Breakfast was served in the restaurant, and featured a small but tasty buffet of Hungarian cold cuts and cheese plus an assortment of eggs and other hot items. I didn’t sample Restaurant Arrabona for dinner but the menu, a fusion of light Mediterranean food and Hungarian specialties, looked enticing. Kosher food is available.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The light and airy meeting rooms (all enjoy natural daylight) at the Hilton WestEnd were some of the most modern I have seen. The Ballroom (A+B) can seat up to 350 people while 11 other meeting rooms (all equally modern and airy) can handle meetings of all sizes and shapes. They feature state-of-the-art technology and wireless Internet access. Hilton Meetings has its own Business and Service Centre. The comfortable and spacious Boardrooms feature ergonomic “eight-hour chairs” and are soundproof, perfect for smaller meetings. A roof garden is available for receptions and dinners. The hotel offers pecial activities for meeting attendees, such as a day with the hotel restaurant’s chef, who will teach how to prepare Hungarian recipes (highly recommended), and a balloon ride for sightseeing, which leaves from the WestEnd City Center’s adjoining rooftop.
The WestEnd Fitnesz Klub offers a wide variety of new workout equipment, including Technogym’s Cardiovascular and Strength products. The Klub also has a brand new Finnish sauna and is located on the top floor of the hotel, also with spectacular views.
I always ask myself two questions: was I able to work productively and do I WANT to come back. Given the comfortable rooms, excellent Hungarian cuisine, central location, friendly staff, and traditional Hungarian hospitality, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to the Hilton WestEnd (but I might ask for a bigger room next time).
Hilton Budapest WestEnd
Váci út 1-3
Telephone +36 1 288 55 10
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.