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The Four Seasons Budapest Soothes and Relaxes But Still Needs Free WiFi

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  Site Where: Roosevelt Ter 5-7, Budapest, Hungary, 1051
March 23, 2009 at 4:19 PM | by | Comment (1)

Every so often we feature a hotel review from one of our readers that we feel should be shared with the rest of you dear hotel guests. These reviews are highlighted because they are timely, about cool hotels in cool places and are relatively level-headed. Think you can submit one just like this? Send it in.

This review comes from a longtime HotelChatter tipster who recently saw the swankier side of Budapest. Enjoy.

Four Seasons Gresham Palace is on the Pest river front, right opposite the historical Chain Bridge connecting the two parts of the city. A gorgeous Art Nouveau building, it is beautifully lit up at night and worth a stop even if you are not staying here to admire the lobby and have a drink in the cosy bar. Next door is the Sofitel, InterContinental, and a little further down the river the Marriott, all of them in various degrees of awful boxy concrete hotel architecture.

Building Reaction
Originally constructed as the Gresham Life Assurance Company in 1906, the building was restored from near collapse over a period of five years following the acquisition by Four Seasons. Pulling up in a cab, doors are opened for you and bags carried if you wish. As I only had a small trolley, I rolled it in myself.

Walking through the doors into the lobby is pretty impressive, with spectacular mosaic floors, arched glass ceilings, and wrought iron details. To your immediate right is the entrance to the restaurant, Gresham Kavehaz, and the bar, just behind the concierge desk. Passing the hidden elevator bank on your right, you walk up to reception, under a massive glass sculpture which is reminiscent of Chihuly, but is in fact a piece from another artist, whose name escapes me.

Someone from the hotel can give you a short tour of the property, explaining more about the history and architecture, which is worth it. If you're lucky, you also get to see some of the specialty rooms (I saw one of the top suites, which was spectacular).

A transfer to/from the airport by Mercedes S-class is 90 euros one-way, very expensive compared to a taxi ride, but a nice way to begin/end your stay in style.

Check in
As I was the only one at the time, reception was quick and efficient, with the signature "we've been expecting you, mr/mrs. ..." of Four Seasons. I had booked the standard "Superior" room, but received an upgrade to the "Deluxe" category. Within a few minutes, I was on my way. Key cards are needed to operate the elevator at all times.

Room reaction
My room was on the first (of six) floors in the hotel. Some of the floors benefit from very high ceilings (easily 4 meters high I would say), as did the first floor. There are various room types available. Superior, Deluxe, Gresham rooms increase in size and have courtyard or city views. Three types of Danube rooms have river views, followed by a range of suites all the way to a 136m2 Royal Suite.

My deluxe room had a parquet floor hallway, with double doors to the full marble bathroom to the left. The bathroom had the typical Four Seasons lay out, with separate shower and toilet to the left, and deep soaking tub to the right. There was only a single vanity in the middle, but plenty of space for toiletries.

Amenity Madness
Hotel toiletries are L'Occitane, from shampoo to body lotion - nice touch is the heated floor. On through the hallway, you have the minibar and coffee/tea making facilities on your left before you step into the actual room. To the right you have plenty of closet space for a longer stay, and a massive kingsize bed with lovely white linens and plenty of pillows.

An armchair with footrest, desk and chair, and cupboard on which sits a flatscreen TV completes the room. The TV was on the small side, the huge white wall behind and distance to the bed dwarfed it a bit. The "city view" out the window was nothing special - the building across the street - so I kept the curtains drawn pretty much throughout my stay.

Internet Connect
Since there is a business center just off the lobby on the ground floor with computers and printing facilities and free internet access, I did not investigate the internet options (there is wired and wireless) in the room. Free however, as is the standard at high-end chains, it was not.

Dining
I had dinner at Gresham Kavehaz one evening. Fairly informal for Four Seasons standards, there is a wide variety of dishes to choose from. The duck, paired with a recommended rose wine, was excellent. Try the three creme brulee varieties for dessert (classic, chocolate, hazelnut). Prices in Budapest are still of the pleasantly-surprised kind (e.g. lunch at an Indian restaurant for $3.50) - the hotel restaurant was of course relatively expensive, but with main course, glass of wine and sparkling water, dessert and coffee/tea, you're in the area of 40 euros, which is not bad.

Spa
During the renovation, a sixth floor was added to the hotel, which you would not see on first glance. The spa is located on this floor, which has male/female locker facilities, a gym, infinity pool, whirlpool, sauna, and steamrooms. Refreshments (fruit, drinks) are complimentary. Various treatments are available using Elemis products. I spent an hour and a half or so at the pool and showered after check out before catching my flight, which was wonderful. Great rain showers, anything from shampoo to shaving cream is available, and all sparkling clean.

Bottom Line
A fantastic hotel - a beautiful building, luxurious rooms, spa, and attentive but not overbearing service. What's not to like? Well, rates in high season can be high. If you can find a weekend or winter offer, it is absolutely worth it. However, spending 500 euros and up for a night I find difficult to justify no matter what.

Also, the lower end rooms, while lovely, have little view to speak of. The price jump to a river / Castle District view room can be 400 euros, which is quite a big leap. Free wireless internet at these prices would be a welcome and standard-breaking move if Four Seasons would choose to do so.

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I love Wifi ...

..but I can nearly forgive these guys just coz they have such a gorgeous building. (nearly). (I still want WiFi) (For free).

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