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help me decide on a hotel (safety/location question)

I'm going to be spending 4 days in Budapest as a solo female traveler, so I'd prefer to stay someplace with a lot of foot traffic at all (or most) hours.

I'm sitting on some Star points, so I could stay for free at either the Lanchid 19 (1013 Budapest, Lánchíd utca 19) which appears to be right near the Chain Bridge on the Buda side, or the Marriott Courtyard City Center (1085 Budapest, Jozsef korut 5) on the Pest side.

Both are rated on various hotel sites as having excellent locations, and I can see that they are both well-located for various tourist attractions.

But I'm looking for a balance between tourist hell (I'm a native New Yorker and going to Times Sq raises my blood pressure), and nighttime traffic - I always feel safer on busy streets when it's dark out.

If it's a tossup between those two, the Lanchid is slightly fewer points.

I'm also considering the Danubius Astoria but that would cost me actual money, although not much.

Open to other hotel suggestions too but I would want to stick around the $70/night mark or less.

Appreciate any input!

Posted by
191 posts

The Courtyard City Center is a good location right next to the metro and it is a transportation hub so there are lots of locals just going about there business as well (plus some grocery stores located close by). I stayed a few blocks away at the ibis and felt very safe walking around the area and it was easy to move around Budapest (solo trip).

Personally, I would rather stay on the Pest side as I spent a day going through the Buda sites and spent the rest of my time in the Pest side.

Posted by
103 posts

MrsEB, yes, there definitely definitely should be a subforum for solo female travelers. although for an topic like this I'd probably still post here because I would need a response from someone familiar with these areas.

Thanks Stephanie, that's a great data point and the kind of info I was hoping for. I like that you say the area is not just swarming with 100% tourists.

If anyone can chime in about the area I mentioned on the Buda side I'd appreciate that as well (might be a slightly nicer hotel experience, if all other things are equal).

Posted by
12086 posts

"...a different world." How true. Having a women's forum for solo women travelers presupposes that there is a difference in traveling between Americans and Europeans (regardless of European nationality).

Posted by
2089 posts

I'm a solo traveler and will be back in Budapest for the 3rd time in as many years in April. I had the same concerns when I was selecting my hotel the first trip and ended up choosing one on So utca, a tiny street just off the end of Vaci utca (pedestrianized so quiet at night, but still plenty of people about) and next to Fovam ter and the Great Market Hall and Szabadsag hid (Liberty Bridge). Metro station and tram stop about 3 minutes away. My stay was wonderful and I was close to some sites but I also felt just a bit removed from the fray, yet could easily get to it in a few minutes on foot or by metro.

Second trip I again chose So utca but tried the Residence Baron instead and was very pleased, had an enormous room with a view of the bridge, excellent breakfast included. I will be staying there again this next trip. I considered other hotels more in the tourist hell area but decided to go with what has worked well for me already. I have been out and about in the mid to late evening and have never felt uncomfortable in Budapest.

I like MrsEB's suggestion about a women's forum, as we do have some particular concerns when travelling solo.

Posted by
12086 posts

I engage in people watching, watch and observe how women ranging from college kids to retirees travel on trains, at the hostels, hotels,restaurants, regardless if they are Caucasian, Asian, etc. I'm sure you have seen it too, those traveling who need to find out info and some can barely speak English, (let alone any other European language, just watch at check-in, since that is the lingua franca such as Japanese or Chinese girls solo or in pairs, easy to spot the difference, just listen/eavesdrop on their language to distinguish between Mandarin and Japanese. They don't seem to have concerns traveling in former Soviet bloc countries if you use numbers of Asian female tourists visiting Budapest or Prague as an indication.

Posted by
12086 posts

"...but looks can be deceiving." How true in regards to neighborhoods or an area. When you are used to seeing the Tenderloin in SF,...lol, gritty sights/areas maybe be just that. That does not mean they are unsafe where one can get jumped in the streets American style. True, one develops a feel for a place (same as in BP). From my three day trips to Budapest, I've only had positive responses. Of course, I've not been there at night, eg, on Castle Hill, walking all those steps to or from the sidewalk. That's for a future visit.

Posted by
103 posts

thanks to everyone for their thoughtful replies. at the risk of being pedantic, I want to respond on the female travel item separately from my topic, which picks back up at the bottom of this post -

I’m a native New Yorker and not a nervous traveler in general. I think men may misunderstand my question and part of that is probably how I titled this post...it's not to say that I don't value travelers' judgment on the safety of a neighborhood - of course that is extremely important and helpful and valid. but I feel much safer traveling with someone, or when I’m on my own, with lots of people around, because there are certain things that can happen that can still be incredibly unpleasant even if they are not necessarily dangerous. I don't want to speak for all women, but I personally am hyper vigilant about my surroundings until I know one way or another whether I need to be. nonstop hypervigilance is kind of exhausting, so where I’m unfamiliar with a place, other people being around helps me lower the level of it, so that's what I cater to to be comfortable.

aggressive male attention is more aggressive when there are fewer people around, and more likely to be directed toward a solo female traveler than toward 2 women traveling together, as maybe james' wife and daughter do. I have been to turkey on trips with (separately) my husband and female best friend; once, my husband went home from Istanbul 3 days before I did, and I experienced more harassment in those 3 days than in the 3 weeks I was with my friend, but I was staying in Taksim which is busy at all hours and which I’m familiar with, and felt relatively safe.

once, a "friendly" man who didn't accept the cues to bugger off, walked alongside me for 8 blocks to my hotel in Brussels, at which point I needed to decide whether or not I wanted him to know where I was staying or continue walking somewhere to try and shake him off. it left me feeling unsettled but could have been much scarier in an empty neighborhood.
so with new places, I just prefer to have people around. I've been taking public transportation by myself since I was 11, so I’m not necessarily nervous on the subway at 10pm. I had no problem taking the train and walking around Naples by myself at night - on my second visit there when I was more familiar with the city. if I was in Budapest for the first time and it was totally dead, yeah, I probably would hypervigilant/nervous and prefer to take a long walk in busy streets.

@fred, I’m not sure why "Having a women's forum for solo women travelers presupposes that there is a difference in traveling between Americans and Europeans" ?

anyway, knowing what neighborhoods are dead at night requires first-hand feedback from people who have experienced them, so it makes sense to me to post this in the place-specific subforum.


so back to that topic!

@christa, thanks for sharing your experience with the area. unfortunately the residence baron is out of my price range but I made (cancel-able) reservations at the la prima fashion hotel and the danubius astoria, which are both about a 10 min walk away (according to google maps). what do you think? a 10 min walk can make a huge difference in NYC...

@james, the other marriott is 3x as many points as the courtyard or lanchid, so I couldn't swing it even if I wanted to stay in tourist hell :-) most of the hotels you listed are out of my price range so, as I said, i've booked free-cancellation stays at la prima fashion and the danubius astoria til I decide...unfortunately I’m only seeing apartments for rent in my price range in the neighborhoods you suggested. can you elaborate on the area around the astoria?

any feedback on these 3 would be very appreciated - the more data points the better!

Wow..i am too looking forward to visit budapest this year. Please share your experience after your visit. Thanks

Posted by
103 posts

ok, that's much more informative, appreciate it. my comfort level is 90% having other people around, so a busy section of a less touristy neighborhood is is exactly what i am looking for.

respectfully, i find it odd to have a judgment made on what i might prefer (and that being someplace more resembling disneyland or completely avoiding the occasional sleeping homeless person) when i was only asking if the areas are safe and busy.

Jumpingjoness03 - i will definitely post a trip report!

Posted by
103 posts

if anyone is curious about the context here, i got a sarcastic response to this last and then that person deleted all their comments.

i'm surprised that only women actually answered my question, the rest was just a bunch of condescending sexism and casual racism.

i guess there IS a need for a solo female forum if a question as simple as "are there people out after dark" can provoke so much nonsense!

Posted by
10845 posts

Let’s be clear. I supported the idea of a woman’s forum because as I explained there was no way I could get in the head of a woman. So instead I spent a lot of time finding street shots around the hotels you had mentioned so you could see for yourself what you might or might not feel comfortable. Of the two hotels you narrowed your decision to I suggested that the hotel closer to the tourist zone might be more comfortable than the one on the downtown street where street people are often an issue. I would make the same recommendation to most people. Makers for a nicer first impression not to deal with homeless. Most would not look for the insult or sarcasm in that.

In return to all the efforts to provide information to help you make a decision you never showed an ounce of appreciation but accused me of being sexist. I decided in that context I would be, and had been, of no help to you; so, pulled all of the posts, all of the research I did for you, all of the discussions of the pros and cons of the areas, all of the hotel recommendations, and all of my personal observations. If it had been my intent to be insulting, I could have done that in less than 6 words, not the nearly 1000 words I provided you.

Posted by
103 posts

I can see how you would see it that way, but you did not answer my actual question until the 3rd time I asked for clarification, because you presumed to know better than me what would make me comfortable.

--Edited to add: I didn't comment on the screenshots or maps because I assumed you misunderstood my question, since it's not possible to learn anything about safety or foot traffic (my question) from them.--

I made an effort to clarify what I was asking and the reasons why, but when I asked if you could elaborate on the area around the Astoria, you only replied that I wouldn't want to stay there, without explaining why until pressed.* Whether or not you intended it, that is condescending.

*Also, I'm not sure how anyone could equate "possibly seeing a homeless person or their bed" (as you previously said) to "street people are often an issue".

I'm not looking to argue ad nauseum. I just thought it was weird that both the women who responded answered the question and neither of the men did.

Posted by
10845 posts

You are correct my attempts to be helpful were useless and with out meaning or merit and certainly not deserving of any respect or appreciation. You are correct, i should not have put you in a position to have to demand that i give you more time and effort for out of the kindness of my heart. I humbly beg your forgiveness for my failures.....

Posted by
103 posts

"You are correct my attempts to be helpful were useless and with out meaning or merit and certainly not deserving of any respect or appreciation. You are correct, i should not have put you in a position to have to demand that i give you more time and effort for out of the kindness of my heart. I humbly beg your forgiveness for my failures....."

oy.

Posted by
10845 posts

We agree! May G-d Bless you and fill your heart with love. Happy travels.

Posted by
2089 posts

Sporky--I have no doubt at all in my mind that you will not only find the right hotel but also fall completely under Budapest's spell. I'm preparing to make my 7th solo trip and every time I'm in the planning stages I agonize over hotel locations, and I'm no shrinking violet. I read hundreds of reviews and have so far ended up in places that suit my psychological needs best--good mix of people out and about, clean and safe public transit nearby.

My first trip to Budapest I arrived by train from Vienna. Thanks to James' advice I knew where to find the ATM and to call City Taxi and was quickly on my way--a direct route, no taking advantage of a tourist going on. The immediate area of Keleti was a bit, shall we say, gritty? Not scary, just not as polished as Vienna, certainly. The hotel had a card in the room warning of pickpockets (never had an issue anywhere with them) and to avoid sketchy women in bars, etc. This unnerved me, but I set out on the metro and toured a museum, visited the Great Market Hall for dinner and walked over the Szabadsag bridge and by the end of that first day I was entranced. I often walk in the mid-evening, and have come back via the metro in late evening from the opera and theatre, always lots of people about and never an issue. I'm not inclined to go out drinking alone, no experience with that. I found the Hungarians to be lovely, kind, and unusually helpful people. I look forward to reading your trip report.

Posted by
103 posts

Sounds great Christa! Yes, I understand about agonizing on the hotels - on my 2nd trip to Naples, which was a solo one, I was stuck on 3 hotels in basically the same area, and I was already familiar with the city :-)

I'm not concerned about grittiness, but it's always good to know when "grime doesn't equal crime". Naples is the same.

There are areas of NYC for example as well, that don't look great and are dead in the evening but perfectly safe, but I wouldn't recommend for someone who is going to be uncomfortable with how empty it is. Glad to hear that there are "always lots of people about" - that's my main concern, and the one thing that is very difficult to research online.

Are you on your 7th solo trip or 7th solo trip to Budapest?

Edited to add - I'm also coming on the train from Vienna, I'm hoping it's a scenic ride?

Posted by
2089 posts

7 total trips in as many years, in April it'll be my 3rd return to Budapest. I originally visited because my mother's family is Hungarian, and last year I took the train to the town they came from, Tata. It's on the way from Vienna and has some interesting things to see, but best done with a car. Haven't worked myself up to driving alone in Europe. Last year I began learning the Hungarian language, just for fun and as another way to connect to my heritage--if you want to totally delight/amuse a Hungarian, learn a bit; it's a difficult language so they seem inordinately pleased at your efforts.

It's neither a boring nor fascinating train trip, just your typical countryside. I'm actually coming in again from Vienna and had planned to take the train as it's quite easy and cheap--and this time I'd take the metro from Keleti rather than a taxi--but I ended up needing major abdominal surgery on Feb 2 so while the healing is going fine and my surgeon says I should be in good shape for my trip on 4/19, I'm a bit leery of hoisting a good 25 lbs of luggage onto and off the train. I'm considering a flight, which is neither cheap nor easy.

Posted by
103 posts

Ooh, hope you feel better soon! I know how aggravating it can be to be temporarily limited physically.

I found directions online to take public transport into the city from the train station which is what I will probably do because I like to get familiar with a city this way (and I should be coming in in the afternoon, though I haven't yet booked my ticket from Vienna - I'm going to wing it based on how much fun I'm having in Vienna). Sounds like there is not much of a time savings to cab it.

Looks like Austrian is the only airline that goes direct VIE-BUD? Bummer! They are so expensive. I could have gotten an earlier flight from AMS-VIE but it was 3x the price as easyjet :-(

I always try to learn "hello" "thank you" and "i'm vegetarian" in the local language whenever i travel...Turkish people are the same in being terribly amused by this.

Posted by
2089 posts

Very easy to get off the train and buy your metro pass, that makes the most sense as you can use it on anything, and take the metro to your hotel--I know that now, but on my first trip felt better about a cab. You can get a 72 hr pass for about $14 US, or 7 days for $17, depending on how much you plan to use public transportation.

Posted by
103 posts

i think i will just buy a single ticket and wait and buy the 3 day budapest pass (since i'll be there 4 days), i think i would use it enough to justify the extra cost over the transport card. have you used it before?

Posted by
2089 posts

Both trips I made excellent use of my pass each day--metro, tram and bus--as some sites are spread out, and at some point you become aware of a need to spare your feet a little, though I find Budapest a very walkable city. If you will be taking the suburban HEV train outside Budapest, such as to charming Szentendre or to Godollo to tour the lovely little palace (if you become at all intrigued by Franz Joseph and Sisi while in Vienna you may find yourself needing to see Godollo), the pass counts towards part of the fare and you just buy a supplemental ticket for a very small cost. I will probably just buy the 7 day pass as I hate fiddling with individual tickets.

Posted by
103 posts

i only have a day and a half in vienna so i'm planning on limiting my touristing to mozart-related spots and having a vegan wienerschnitzel :-) thanks for the info!

Posted by
140 posts

I would suggest the Art'hotel on the Bern Rakpart. It is on the Danube, almost directly across from the Parliament bldg. It is walking distance to the Chain bridge. It is walking distance to Batthyany Metro (or one tram stop). Budapest is a river town and this hotel is right on it! Nice views throughout the day.
Buda side, short distance to Pest.
Price is in your range, perhaps lower.
We have an apartment very near to it and friends have stayed in this place when we can't accommodate them. It isn't top notch but my understanding is it is clean and serviceable. There are bars and restaurants nearby but not really touristy.

The train from Vienna to BP is, "meh'. Not a lot of scenic spots. But I have heard the Danube hydrofoil isn't much better: the scenery along that part of the river is just "OK", the cost is much higher, the trip is twice as long (perhaps someone else can comment).

Posted by
10845 posts

But at the Art otel you want a river front room on the 4th floor or higher to see the Parliament over the trees put front. Or at least that was the case a few years back..

Posted by
103 posts

Don, thanks for your input. The Art 'Otel is about $86/night for the non-refundable rate. Normally, even as frugal as I am, I wouldn't be quite this tightfisted but this is sort of a last minute thing, and we are going to Europe for 2 weeks in August, so I'm trying to be good and spend as close to nothing as possible :-)

I could do points at the Lanchid 19 hotel which looks to be about equidistant from the Lanchid bridge but from the other direction, but I haven't been able to find out if this area has good foot traffic at night; empty streets make me nervous. Can you speak to how many people are out in that area at night, and are crossing the bridge?

I am also looking at a guesthouse right on Vörösmarty Square because it's cheap enough that it's worth less than the hotel points I'd spend at the Lanchid 19 hotel. Is that area horribly touristy? Thanks!

Posted by
140 posts

Sporky - When I have a minute I will refresh my memory (by looking at a map to see where your suggested hotel is) and offer an opinion. I might also place a call to relatives in BP and get their feel on the current atmosphere around the Lanchid area. My knee jerk (memory isn't want it used to be) is that as you go south of the art'otel and the bridge it gets less walking street/sidewalk traffic. But I will check.

The only thing I would add is in BP no matter where you stay, there is never as much foot traffic on the walkways in the evening as NYC, Paris, London or Vienna. What time of year are you going?

James - You're such a romantic! For less than a $100USD a night, the street view when walking outside the hotel may have to do! Unless you have connections and perhaps they'll cut down some the sidewalk trees!

Posted by
103 posts

Don, thanks for that, really appreciate the effort! I'm going in April. The Vörösmarty guesthouse is decidedly dinky (what you'd expect for <$50/night) but supposedly clean and comfortable enough. I am SPG gold so I should get a room upgrade and some other benefits if I stay at the Lanchid 19, but for the most part I generally value location over other factors. In a city I like to be in an area with a lot of people if I'm by myself.

This is my first trip to Central/Eastern Europe so I wasn't sure if maybe it's like Italy or Spain where everyone eats dinner at 9 so there are still plenty of people out at 11pm. But that is good to know that there are just fewer people around than other major cities. May sway me toward the guesthouse although I can see that it's practically on top of the Hard Rock Cafe, which is usually my indication that it's going to be too touristy of a neighborhood for me...

Frugality does make some decisions tougher!

NB: A view is always nice, but since I'm barely conscious until after my 2nd cup of coffee, it's probably not worth extra money for me :-)

Posted by
10845 posts

Don, we stayed there about 7 years ago, hence my wording. I suppose I paid more for the river view, don't remember. Do remember we opened the widow, leaned out to take in the spectacular view and were immediately overcome by a cloud of nats. Also remember they had a sewer issue and the passage to Fo utca (?) stunk to high heaven and there were 2 call girls in the bar.

We were there in January when the river started to freeze over and took some photos from in front of the hotel that I will send you later.

But these I am certain were one-off events and we just walked into a perfect storm. It's why I talk about neighborhoods and don't recommend hotel or apartments. Tibor, the bar tender was great. Things are just too fluid and not perfect today for me could be great for someone else in the future.

Posted by
140 posts

SporkyNoodles (interesting name!!)

So I took a look at the Lanchid 19 location vs the Art 'otel on Google maps and from my view/experience the walkways/surrounding the Art will probably have more traffic. The tram is directly across the Art so generally there are folks in the area. And, when outside, you will have the Danube right in front of you (doesn't get much better).

I Skyped with my cousin who lives in BP yesterday and he added the following:
1. April is not touristy yet, so BP isn't filled with out-of-towners...unless you are travelling over the Easter weekend when he says more Hungarians come into the city. (I have not been in April/Easter)
2. From the 3 locations I asked him about (Art, 19, Vorosmarty), he said that Vorosmarty would absolutely have more walkers/traffic, etc. He also added from his point of view the Art and the 19 were in safe neighborhoods and should not provide any issues (same with VM) -- VM would more populated.
3. In general, Hungarians have dinner between 7 and 8 pm unlike their European/Mediterranean brethren. I personally find that those first few days in Europe, coming from the States, I eat early - because it is "late" according to my body-clock!

I hope some of this helps and that you catch warm spring weather, as April can be iffy. May your travels to Budapest be fruitful, joy-filled and create fond memories.

Posted by
103 posts

Hi Don,

Wow! Thanks so much for all that info and the effort! I really appreciate your talking to your cousin on my behalf!

That is exactly the kind of info I was looking for, and I'm glad to know that April is less touristy, and I won't be there over Easter. I think that that might push the VS guesthouse to the top of the list because it's technically the cheapest based on the value of the points I'd spend at the 19. I looked at a map and got worried about the touristyness of all the chain stores around VS, although I know there are some places in the world where a high concentration of international chains can still exist in a cool neighborhood (Istiklal in Istanbul, Soho in NYC...). But if there will be less tourists around that is probably exactly the right time to stay in a place like that.

I live in the PNW so I'm prepared for iffy weather :-)

Thanks so much again for your help!

Posted by
140 posts

You are welcome! I hope that you write back after your visit and advise how your Hungarian adventure turned out - Don