Hungary in detail

Sleeping

Hungary has a wide range of accommodation. Book a couple of months in advance for Budapest, Lake Balaton and the Danube Bend in high season.

Camping Options range from private sites with few facilities to enormous caravan campgrounds with swimming pools.

Hostels Inexpensive, prevalent in Budapest, and with lots of backpacker facilities.

Hotels Anything from socialist-era brutalist architecture to elegant five-star places, quirky boutique hotels and converted manor houses.

Pensions, inns and B&Bs Often cosy, family-run places with all the facilities of a small hotel.

Private homes and apartments Book a room or an entire place (usually) with English-speaking hosts.

Tourist Tax

Most cities and towns levy a local tourist tax on accommodation of around 350Ft per night per adult. Most hotels and pensions include the tax in the price, but don’t be surprised when it comes time to pay if a little extra has been added on. Where possible, we’ve included the tax in accommodation prices quoted.

Some top-end hotels in Budapest do not include the 27% Value Added Tax (VAT) in their rack rates; make sure you read the fine print. As a general rule, hotels and pensions include breakfast in their rates, but not always; if not included, it usually costs between 1100Ft and 3000Ft.

Camping

Camping grounds are the cheapest places to stay. Campgrounds range from small, private sites with few facilities to large, fully equipped sites that accommodate camper vans and have restaurants on their premises. On average, you'll end up paying around 1100Ft per tent, plus another 1300Ft per person on top of that, but it could be significantly more on Lake Balaton in the height of summer.

Most camping grounds open from April or May to September or October, and some offer simple bungalows (üdölőházak or faházak) from around 4000Ft to around 21,500Ft; book ahead in summer. A Camping Card International (www.campingcardinternational.com) will sometimes get you a discount of up to 10%. Camping ‘wild’ is prohibited in Hungary.

Farmhouses

‘Village tourism’ means an introduction to the rural lifestyle by staying at a farmhouse. Most of the places are truly remote, however, and you’ll usually need your own transport, as well as some relevant language skills.

Hostels

The youth hostel (ifjúsági szállók) scene in Budapest has exploded in the last half-decade, leaving backpackers with a massive array of options. However, in the rest of Hungary quality hostels are still fairly rare.

In a Budapest hostel dormitory beds cost between 3000Ft and 4000Ft per person, doubles 6000Ft to 8000Ft; prices drop considerably in the countryside. A HI card sometimes gets you a small discount. Many hostels, particularly the ones in the capital, come with a plethora of services – from laundry and tour bookings to free wi-fi, guest kitchen and more.

Hotels

Hotels, called szállók or szállodák, run the gamut from luxurious five-star palaces to the run-down old socialist-era hovels that still survive in some towns, and the star rating may not always paint an accurate picture of a hotel's facilities.

As a rule of thumb, two-star hotels usually have rooms with a private bathroom, whereas one-star places offer basic rooms with shared facilities; prices start from around 9000Ft. Three stars and up (from around 15,000Ft) and you're usually looking at TV and telephone as extras; some come with saunas and/or a pool. Four- and five-star hotels (from around 30,000Ft to 40,000Ft) tend to have a gym and spa, and most hotels apart from the cheapest tend to have their own restaurant. A buffet breakfast is usually included in the price at the cheaper hotels, whereas at the top-end ones you may end up paying extra. Then there are the 'wellness hotels' which make the most of Hungary's thermal waters and come equipped with spas offering a variety of treatments – from pampering packages to medical treatments aimed at rheumatism, asthma and more.

For the big splurge, or if you’re romantically inclined, check out Hungary’s network of castle hotels (kastély szállók) or mansion hotels (kúria szállók).

Pensions, Inns & B&Bs

Privately run pensions (panziók), B&Bs and inns (fogadók) have been springing up like mushrooms over the past decade. Some are really just little hotels in all but name, charging from about 11,000Ft for an en-suite double. They are usually modern and clean, and often have an attached restaurant, a sauna and maybe even a pool. Others are cosy, family-run B&Bs and offer great value for money, as they tend to have all the facilities of a hotel (TV, wi-fi) in the same price range as well as the personal touch of an owner who really cares about the clientele.

Private Rooms

Hungary’s ‘paying-guest service’ (fizetővendég szolgálat), or homestay, essentially means a simple room in a private house, with facilities shared with the owner/family. It's inexpensive – around 4500Ft to 8000Ft per night (7000Ft to 10,000Ft in Budapest) – but the lack of facilities and the advent of pensions, Air B'n'B and other easily booked private accommodation, where listings and (usually English-speaking) hosts are rated by users, means that it’s neither very widespread nor popular. Most Tourinform offices don't keep a list of private rooms in the region, but it's worth inquiring about if you're short of other options. In resort areas look for houses with signs reading ‘szoba kiadó’ or ‘Zimmer frei’, advertising private rooms in Hungarian or German.

University Accommodation

From 1 July to 20 August (or later) and sometimes during the Easter holidays, Hungary’s cheapest rooms are available at vacant student dormitories, known as kollégium or diákszálló, where beds in double, triple and quadruple rooms start as low as 2700Ft per person. There’s no need to show a student or hostel card, and facilities are usually basic and shared.