Where to stay in Budapest

Two high-end hotels at rock-bottom prices in the Hungarian capital.

La Prima Fashion Hotel

What's so special

If you like your rooms a little less quirky than Brody House, but still at wallet-friendly prices, try La Prima. Don't be put off by the word fashion' in the hotel's name, as this establishment is simply classy, rather than trendy. It's comfortable, central and costs less than £100 a night.

How they rate it

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This little gem is "certainly central enough, located just off Vaci Utca", says Nick Redman in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. It is "well placed for ambling through Pest, with its Lord of the Rings-flavoured Art Nouveau architecture, inexpensive opera house and whirring restaurant/caf scene".

The hotel itself offers 80 "snug" rooms that are "crisp and clean, the bathrooms gleaming". The only gripe is the "ploddy, pan-Euro club soundtrack pumped through public areas, which can grate a little after a while". All in all, though, "this place is a comfortable bargain for the money which is bang on trend in our books".

The menu

This is a B&B, so you'll have to go elsewhere for dinner, but the breakfasts are excellent and there are plenty of restaurants close to the hotel.

The cost

Rooms cost from £77 per night, including breakfast. For more information, visit the website at www.laprimahotel.hu, or call 00 36 1 799 0088.

Brody House


What's so special

Budapest is one of the few European cities left where it is possible to enjoy high-end luxury accommodation at rock-bottom prices. The best example of this is Brody House, a smart members' club, run by two Britons.

How they rate it

The hotel has "wacky interiors, excellent breakfasts and a great location on the lively Pest side of the city", says Mark Skipworth in The Daily Telegraph. It deserves its reputation as "the coolest place to stay" in Budapest.

The house dates from the 1850s and its imaginatively decorated rooms are "left with exposed and damaged walls, in contrast to designer fixtures and fittings". The bathrooms are state-of-the-art. And, perhaps best of all, the rooms are "exceptionally peaceful, despite the hotel's central location".

The menu

You'll have to head elsewhere for dinner, but the breakfasts are "cooked to perfection". Skipworth particularly recommends the eggs benedict.

The cost

Prices start from just £60 per night. Visit the hotel's website at www.brodyhouse.com, or call them on 00 36 1 266 1211.

Cut the cost of car hire


Keep your holiday car-hire costs down by following these three tips, says Lee Cobaj in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

Don't pay for fuel you won't use.

When you collect a car you will usually be offered the option of pre-paying for a tank of fuel. "Here's the rub: they know that most customers never return the car empty, so you'll have paid for a full tank when you didn't need it and they don't refund the difference." Instead, choose the "pick-up full, drop-off full" option, so you pay for the fuel you use.

Get your own insurance.

Most rental cars come with only the most basic insurance, with exclusions, such as theft, and a huge excess. When you pick up the car you'll be offered extra insurance to cover these costs at £10-£15 a day. "This is often more than you paid for the car itself."

Instead, takeout a policy with a stand-alone provider at a much lower cost. For example, Worldwideinsure.com offered Cobaj European cover for seven days for £15.75. By contrast, Enterprise cars wanted £80.70 for extra insurance on a week's car hire.

Don't book direct with the hire firm.

You'll usually pay more this way. Instead, use a specialist car-hire search engine, such as Arguscarhire.com, Travelsupermarket.com or Rhinocarhire.com. Cobaj found an economy-class car with snow tyres from Europcar for a week for £57 less than if he had booked direct with Europcar.