Accommodation in Budapest runs the gamut from hostels in converted flats and private rooms in far-flung housing estates to luxury guesthouses in the Buda Hills and five-star properties charging upwards of €350 a night. In general, accommodation is more limited in the Buda neighbourhoods than on the other side of the Danube River in Pest.
Hotels – szállók or szállodák in Hungarian – can be anything from (rapidly disappearing) run-down socialist-era brutalist constructions to luxurious five-star palaces and quirky boutique and design hotels.
A cheap hotel is generally more expensive than a private room, but may be the answer if you are only staying one night or arrive too late to get a room through an agency. Two-star hotels usually have rooms with a private bathroom; bathrooms are almost always in the hall in one-star places. Three- and four-star hotels can be excellent value compared with those in other European cities.
Because of the changing value of the forint, many midrange and top-end hotels quote their rates in euros.
There are scores of panziók (pensions) and vendégházak (guesthouses), but many are in the outskirts of Pest or the Buda Hills and not very convenient unless you have your own transport. They offer a homey atmosphere and (usually) great breakfasts. Pensions can cost as much as a moderate hotel, although there are some notable exceptions.
Ifjúsági szállók (youth hostels) are open year-round, with the number of options increasing substantially during the university summer holidays (from mid-June or July to late August), when private outfits rent vacant dormitories and turn them into hostels.
You don’t need to belong to Hostelling International or an associated organisation to stay at any of Budapest’s hostels, but membership will sometimes get you a 10% discount or an extra night’s accommodation. For information, check out the Hungarian Youth Hostels Association (MISZSZ; www.miszsz.hu), affiliated with Hostelling International.
Fizetővendég szolgálat (paying-guest service) in Budapest is a good deal and still relatively cheap, but with the advent of stylish and affordable guesthouses and, more recently, Airbnb, it’s no longer widespread.
Private rooms generally cost from 8500Ft for a single, 10,000Ft for a double and 15,000Ft to 18,000Ft for a small apartment, but it's a bit of a lottery and English is not guaranteed. Both Ibusz and Vista will be able to help.
If you’re in Budapest for longer than a few days, short-term rental accommodation may make sense: rates at the bottom end are comparable to a B&B, you can manage your budget more carefully by eating in, and you’ll get to feel like a local.
Great neighbourhoods to consider for their vibe include Erzsébetváros, especially the Jewish Quarter (though it can be noisy at night), and Újlipótváros in Pest and the area around Bartók Béla út south of Gellért Hill in Buda. Home-sharing site Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) is the go-to source for finding a Budapest pad; also try the local Apartments of Budapest (https://apartmentsofbudapest.com).
For something a little more hotel-like, serviced apartments are a good option. Budapest is chock-a-block with them and all have private bathrooms and usually kitchens – at the very least. Some are positively luxurious, while others are bare-bones. Try any of the following: Millennium Court Marriott Executive Apartments, Mamaison Residence Izabella, Katona Apartments and Adina Apartment Hotel.