They’re Getting Married Where?
Hungarian Wedding Yields Hidden Gem
Budapest is not really a last-minute destination, at least not when one lives in Los Angeles as I do. But a nephew’s unexpected wedding announcement and two weeks’ notice prompted a scramble for air and hotel accommodations in Hungary's capital city. Fortunately, I had some inside information (I work at Luxury Link, after all): it turns out one of Budapest’s most unique boutique hotels - St. George Residence - is also one of its best kept secrets.
For those unfamiliar with Budapest, it is actually two very distinct cities - Pest, on the east bank of the Danube River, and Buda, on the west. We opted to stay in Buda because of its fascinating history, and chose St. George Residence as our home while there, a remarkable inn housed in a 700 year-old building on Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built on a medieval foundation on an ancient street, St. George Residence is a unique lend of old and new. Marble-floored breezeways and sky-high ceilings create a feeling of luxuriousness and authenticity. The property is comprised of just 26 suites, most featuring hardwood flooring, period-style furniture and art; all are also equipped with flat screen T.V.s, complimentary internet access and fully equipped kitchens. The historic nature of the building means there are variations in rooms – no two are exactly alike.
That said, your best bets are the Bronze or Silver suites versus the higher-category Gold or Diamond. In fact, though we had reserved Gold accommodations, we voluntarily “downgraded” after seeing the Bronze and Silver suites, which feature parquet floors, enormous windows and lots of natural light. (Gold and Diamond suites are substantially larger but can be dark due to fewer windows and lower ceiling height; some are also carpeted). Were it not for my husband’s omnipresent iPad we could have been in an elegant townhouse in 18th century Budapest.
The Castle District itself features some of Budapest’s most important attractions including the former Royal Palace (which now houses the National Gallery), Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, and picture postcard images of the Danube and Budapest’s iconic Parliament building from virtually every vantage point. All are within walking distance of St. George Residence. Plus, the hotel is located just steps from Ruszwurm, arguably the best pastry shop in Hungary. And because cars are not allowed in the District (other than taxis and autos owned by residents), the area is peaceful and simple to navigate on foot.
Though the hotel does have a restaurant on site (which served the best goulash we tasted while in Hungary), there are many charming cafes and restaurants just a cobblestone’s throw from the property that would be a shame to miss. And should you decide you cannot leave Buda without sampling a pastry at Ruszwurm, do keep in mind its reputation precedes it – it can be crowded and the tables are tiny but the wait (and the calories) are worth it.
As for the wedding…it was beautiful. The ceremony was held at yet another lovely place – a spectacular castle hotel in the Hungarian wine country, three hours outside Budapest. Twenty-five people attended, most in traditional dress, and less than half spoke English. All was going well until the interpreter broke her ankle and had to leave before the “I do’s”. But that’s another story.