If you have been to Budapest one or more times; what part of time would you want to stay in on the next return trip. Which hotel if budget wasn't the primary concern. Or would it be a hotel? Close to the Parliament? or the Great Market Hall or the Opera or someplace in Buda or ???????????????? Why?
We stayed right across the street from the Great Market. We were 100 yards from the river and the tram running upriver to the Parliament building. The new Metro station was also there. We had a great bakery and a Burger King downstairs. An Aldi's was in the basement across the street. Another tram stop was in front of our building (in front of the GreatMarket.) that took us anywhere we wanted in 5 minutes.
Our apartment was incredibly clean and as nice as we'd want--at any price.
We returned to Budapest after three years in April 2014 on the front end of a river cruise. We stayed at Kalvin House near the market hall and the Liberty Bridge both times. They gave us the very same room upon request. The hotel features creaky parquet floors that evoke the faded grandeur of the city itself. Budapest is like Vienna's poorer cousin that suffered under decades of Communist rule. Not that Austria and Hungary were equal parts of the empire before WW I, but there is a strong cultural affinity there. We liked this hotel because it is close to the river, and you can easily walk to the river, cross the Liberty Bridge to get to the Gellert Baths, etc. Also you can easily catch the tram and ride up one bank, cross the Chain Bridge and ride the other tram up the other side. The river is a real highlight and I would not stay anywhere far from it. Staff at Kalvin House are very nice and the breakfast is good, too. I would not prefer to stay at a fancier place even though we could afford to. It just really has a lot of quirky character, and I recommend it highly. We met friends in Budapest on our 2011 trip that were staying at the Gellert, and we thought the hotel was nice but the rooms on the small side. It would probably be a good choice as well, although we did not actually stay there. Anyway, I would strongly advise staying near the river whatever the accommodations, and also in the vicinity of the Liberty Bridge.
I stayed at the Boutique Hotel Zara and was really pleased with being close to the Liberty bridge and Great Market, 5 minute walk to trams in one direction and the Kalvin Ter metro station in the other, just off Vaci utca on So ut.
We are returning to Budapest this March after being there same time 2013. We had looked at Intercontinental w/river view, but prices have gone up to much. We will probably stay again at Carat Boutique near Deak Ferenc Ter. We really liked this hotel last time, good breakfast, location to main subway and easy walking distance to many sites.
We thought our holiday rental apartment, The Pond, near the Opera, was great, especially in terms of location. It was so close to the Metro, but it was also walking distance to many sights, including St. Stephens, the Great Synagogue, the Opera (of course), the Chain Bridge, Andrassy Avenue, the Oktagon, and even Parliament and the Castle, if you are inclined to walk a bit (we were). There were a lot of restaurants around, and even a ruin pub around the corner, and yet it was not in an overly touristy neighbourhood and was quiet at night. It had good air conditioning (much appreciated on the day it was +37, particularly), and it was well-equipped with everything we needed for nearly a week's stay. I find apartment rentals are a much better bargain than hotels, as a rule. For the same amount of money, or even less, one gets more space, a refrigerator (bigger than a minibar fridge), cooking facilities, and sometimes even a washer and dryer. In this case we had a washer/spin dryer, which was great, since we were travelling light.
The downsides of apartment rental are no maid service (although, for me, this is also an upside, since I can go back to the space for a rest any time, midday, if I want to), usually no front desk (which can make check-in a bit more challenging, especially at odd times), no big sign (which means the place can sometimes be harder to find), and nobody to do things like call you a taxi, should you need services like that.
However, for me, the benefits outweigh any drawbacks, and my husband and I are fairly independent travellers, anyhow.
We didn't initially intend to rent The Pond. We had originally booked a different apartment, but the owner of that one had to cancel our booking. It all worked out, and The Pond ended up being just right for us. We would definitely stay there again if we were to return to Budapest.
We didn't look into many hotels in Budapest, but if we did choose to stay in a hotel and budget was not a consideration, we'd probably choose the Gellert, because it's a beautiful hotel and it has baths right there.
We went to Budapest for a few days last summer. We really liked our hotel, the Three Corners Hotel Art and its location. It was in the SSE part of central Pest (closest metro Kalvin Ter). The surrounding neighborhood was quiet with an abundance of local living activity going on during the day. At night all of the nearby restaurants and cafes came to life with families, students, and other diners out for an evening stroll or meal. We were able to walk to almost everything we wanted to see in the city center and river but we were close enough to public transportation when we wanted to explore further, like the Buda side and Hero square.
We really do hope to go back to Budapest some day and if we don't stay at the exact hotel I would definitely stay in the same neighborhood.
So far for repeat visits in Budapest, I have gone there in May, as I will do this coming May, ie in late May. I can well imagine I'll be back there in the summer in other years. If money were no object, I would also stay at the Kempinski.