advertisement

In the 19th century the Zara was an elegant bathhouse. Little original remains of that incarnation except for the "Hungária Spa" that's carved into the stone facade, but its transformation into a 272-room hotel with art deco touches was nicely accomplished. It offers great amenities for business travelers as well as for tourists, and the only major drawback is that the lobby area and breakfast room can feel quite crowded when the hotel is busy. Exquisite details like copper wall plating in the lobby and a copper-plated revolving door are reminders of the building's history, but guest rooms are thoroughly modern. The hotel consists of two attached buildings. Rooms in the older building (the "spa building") have the extraordinarily high ceilings typical of old Budapest buildings, and all rooms have parquet floors. The seventh-floor wellness area holds an indoor pool and a spacious fitness room—but even better is the rooftop garden and heated pool (open April through October), an amenity that's very rare in Budapest. The hotel is centrally located in the old Jewish quarter, a neighborhood that's still a work-in-progress. The narrow streets here hold surprises like traditional artisan workshops, contemporary Hungarian design outlets, and great bars and cafés.