Editor’s note: This story is part of our InterConEuro2014 series, highlighting InterContinental Hotels meeting and incentive programs in Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Davos.
Rarely is a business hotel so well integrated with a city. InterContinental Budapest sits on the busy boardwalk lining the Pest side of the Danube River, where locals and visitors stroll along the water’s edge while vintage tramcars pass slowly by.
Directly across the river on the hilly Buda side of the city, the magisterial Buda Castle is a baroque UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the entire city. Next to that, the Matthias Catholic Church is equally impressive, originally built in the 14th century.
InterContinental’s entire lobby floor, second floor meeting space, and all of the Danube-facing rooms offer staggering views of Buda Castle and Matthias Church, especially at night when they’re lit up in all their glory.
You feel viscerally connected to Budapest’s romance and glamour when you’re staying at the InterContinental Budapest. The hotel is centrally located near the foot of the Chain Bridge, the first span to connect the two halves of the city, so you’re within walking distance to almost everything in the tight, highly walkable downtown core.
The hotel has 402 rooms (18 suites) and a penthouse, all with upgraded Wi-Fi since February 2014. The rooms have work desks with built-in electronic hookups, uncluttered furnishings, and flat screen TVs. A couple planners on this trip remarked how clean and well maintained the hotel is throughout the guest rooms and public spaces.
The flexible meeting and function space is all on the second floor with a grand staircase connected to a private street level entrance. The InterContinental has the largest ballroom in Hungary, hosting up to 1,000 pax theater-style. Divisible by three, the entire length of the ballroom space is covered by glass facing the city.
The other side of the meeting space, facing Buda Castle, the Danube and the riverfront promenade, consists of nine function spaces and boardrooms. The prefunction space leads directly into the extra large Club Lounge, offering various seating and dining areas with all-day F&B service.
The overall service level here is impeccable. Multiple corporate meeting planners with us said it was among the best they’ve seen for a hotel in this class. The hotel was busy during our visit but every staff member we encountered seemed engaged and at ease.
“It always comes down to service, and we always try to give our guests a very high level of personalized service,” says General Manager Claus Geisselman. “We’re 17 years as an InterContinental and we’ve seen a lot, so you have a great combination of an eager young staff and well-traveled senior staff from around the world.”
Geisselman adds that the InterContinental and the city of Budapest represent one of the best values in Europe. Group rates year-round include Wi-Fi and a comprehensive full buffet breakfast, with low season pricing beginning at 120 euros ($150 US).
However, Geisselman says the real value is the city’s all-encompassing historic drama.
“Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with all of the Art Nouveau architecture from the 19th century,” he asserts. “It has a very unique flair, it’s an Imperial city, and it’s a city of spas. We have more than 70 hot springs, so we’re famous for our many baths.”
We mentioned how much we like how the hotel is integrated with the city. It feels like a local hotel, with quick access to a wealth of exceptional fine-dining restaurants and charming cafes in every direction behind the hotel.
“Yes, we’re close to everything,” Geisselman told us. “If you just go a couple blocks along the river and then turn left or right, you’ll feel that local flavor right away. Our coffee culture and our cultural venues are amazing.”
InterContinental Budapest is primarily a group hotel with 40% of its business coming from the U.S., and high season is May-June and September-October. The property won Best Business Hotel in Hungary during the 2014 World Travel Awards.