Budapest is a beautiful city with thousands of years of history underneath its belt. It's one of the most romantic cities in all of Eastern Europe. If you're traveling to Hungary for the first time, you might want to research your accommodations options thoroughly.
Many Americans in particular are very surprised to see that the accommodations in Europe are very different from what they're used to in North America.
Before you even begin your research, you'll want to determine what type of property you need. Are you traveling with kids? Do you need air conditioning? Are you expecting a full restaurant and bar to be located on the premises?
Determining your needs before you book a property will ensure you don't get any surprises later in your trip.
There are generally three types of accommodations in Budapest: Apartments, hotels and hostels. Hotels are traditionally the most popular type of accommodation and rent rooms to travelers starting at less than $30 a night. You often get a maid service, breakfast options and a concierge to help book your activities.
More recently, apartment rentals have become more popular in Budapest. If you're willing to live like a local and forgo maid service, you can save a little bit of money too. Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway have gained popularity for offering more personal experiences in the city.
If you are travelling on a budget, you might want to consider a hostel. Hostels offer extremely cheap accommodations. You generally choose between a shared dorm room or a private suite. Most hostels organize free tours, bar nights and other activities. This is a great option for solo travelers since it's easy to meet people at hostels.
Check how many floors your hotel, hostel or apartment has. Many older buildings in Budapest don't have elevators, so you'll need to hoof your suitcase up to your room if it happens to be on an upper level. Most places post photos of the outside of the building on their websites, so you should be able to tell how many floors you'll be dealing with.
You can always call the property to find out if you can choose your floor or if the building has an elevator. Many properties offer discounts for customers staying on higher floors when the building doesn't have an elevator.
Try to determine if your desired property is kid friendly. If you're traveling with little ones, you'll need to find out if the building has an elevator, if there are railings or child bars on windows on upper floors and if there's room for a crib or trundle bed. You might also want to inquire about the age of the building if you're bringing your kids. Some buildings might have issues with mold or lead paint that you'll want to know about in advance.
If you're not travelling with kids, you'll probably want to find out if your desired property caters to children. If you're renting an apartment, will families with kids be staying in the same building? Are there sharp objects lying around or other hazards? Inquire about these issues in advance to avoid surprises later.
Some hotels, hostels and apartments in Budapest don't have air conditioning; make sure you find out about your desired property before you book. If you're booking during the winter, you obviously don't need to worry about this. Hotels in Europe differ from hotels in America; many do not offer some of the amenities Americans are used to, so be sure to do a thorough investigation into the properties inclusions.
All apartments, hotels and hostels will have heating in the winter, so you won't need to worry about that. If you're renting an apartment, make sure you're comfortable with the type of heating. Some apartments may only have wood stoves or fireplaces and not radiator or baseboard heating.
Several factors can increase the noise issues in a property. Is your room facing the street? Is there a bar or sports arena nearby? Will a festival be in town? You'll need to do your research to ensure your property won't be affected by noisy events.
Do a thorough search for your property online. TripAdvisor reviews will let you know if a property has thin walls or other noise issues. You might be able to find out what parts of the hotel are the noisiest and if customers had problems with the entire hotel or if changing their rooms eased the noise problems.
Don't ever feel embarrassed to call the hotel and ask the front desk if some rooms are quieter than others. You might even ask if there's a conference being held in the hotel during your stay and ask to be placed as far away from those guests as possible.
Many hotels, apartments and hostels offer a varying degree of services. Full-service hotels usually offer maid service, a concierge, late or early check-in and on-site restaurants and bars. Some hostels also offer these services.
If you're staying at an apartment, find out if you're responsible for cleaning the space before you leave. Sometimes hosts offer this option to guests who want to save a little money at the end of their vacation. Some hosts don't offer this option; instead, they simply pay a maid a small fee to clean the apartment. This fee is generally charged to you at the time of booking.
European hotels often offer a free continental breakfast. This breakfast is not usually what Americans eat for breakfast and usually consists of cold cuts, cheese slices, bread and spreads. Double check to see if your hotel offers a free breakfast. You might also want to check to see if your hotel or hostel offers a paid breakfast. Some hotels don't offer this service, so you'll need to check to see if there are adjacent coffee shops or cafes.
Ask your Airbnb host if he or she offers breakfast. Some hosts live on the premises and offer a light morning meal as a way to attract more clients.
Many Budapest hotels don't offer queen-sized or king-sized beds. Instead, many properties simply push two twin-sized beds together to make a queen-sized bed. If sleeping on the crack between two beds sounds uncomfortable to you, try calling the property before you book to make sure you get a true queen bed. If you need a crib or a trundle bed, make sure you call ahead to find out if the hotel offers these amenities before you book. These bedding options are usually offered in American hotels but are not always common in Budapest.
The age of a building in Budapest can tremendously affect the quality of your stay. Budapest is an old city, so most hotels, hostels and apartments are older. Try to find a hotel that is either new or that has been updated within the past 10 years. If the hotel hasn't been renovated recently, check a site like TripAdvisor to determine whether or not the hotel experiences issues related to its age.
Sometimes older buildings have issues with vermin that include termites, roaches, rats, mice and bed bugs. Buildings that have been updated might not have these issues because they were dealt with during the renovations.
Call the hotel, hostel or apartment service to inquire whether the building has experienced any of these issues. Check out user photos on TripAdvisor or Booking.com to find out if other travelers have experienced issues due to the building's age.
City hotels are often much smaller than ones in the suburbs or the country. Manage your expectations by looking at hotel, hostel and apartment photos before booking to ensure your room is the size you expect.
Your Budapest vacation should be a magical time. Manage your expectations by ensuring you know as much about your desired property before the time of booking.
My name is Zoe Molnar, and I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Stag Kiss Budapest. I'm local, and I know all the useful secrets about Budapest and stag do parties. This city has a soul and I'll show you!