Budapest is one of central Europe’s jewels. And when visiting a jewel, it’s always ideal to stay in suitably auspicious surroundings. Literally backing onto the walls of the historic Buda Royal Castle, Lánchíd 19 fits the bill nicely. While the local neighbourhood is stolidly nineteenth century, not to mention its ancient neighbour, Lánchíd 19 is fiercely contemporary. Designed by Radius B S Kft, their new build hotel won a European Hotel Design Award for best new build architecture in 2008 when it was barely open to visitors.
Built on sleek modern lines with a lot of light-bringing glass, Lánchíd 19 has already become something of a local landmark primarily because of it louvered façade. This cleverly designed artifice works in combination with a snazzy lighting concept, the result of which is a form of nighttime theatre. Giant illustrations impregnated into the façade become visible through the effect of light and angle. The imagery depicts the ecosystem of the Danube, over which the hotel has stunning views. After all, it takes its name from the famous nearby chain link bridge across the Danube connecting the ancient cities of Buda and Pest.
Though the hotel offers stunning views of the river from numerous points, those who really want to take advantage should splash out and opt for the panorama suite from which one can not only take in the view from a terrace or through huge windows in less clement weather, but even soak in the tub whilst taking in the romantic Danube skyline.
The style of the suite and the entire hotels is a restrained chic centering around modernist principles; not so much minimalist as a clever combination of simple statement-making furnishings and thoughtful decorative gestures – such as blown-up images taken from nature as wall decorations- that connect the rooms to the tranquil garden terrace at the rear of the building. In certain areas, such as the contemporary take on a reading room, quirky bold furniture is mixed with an earthy palette that connects the undeniably contemporary hotel with the ancient history of its surrounds. After all, just over the garden wall is the site on which King Béla IV first began his royal seat of power in 1247 and which has played a strategic role in every great European imperial struggle since then; from the Ottoman occupation to the tense relationship with the Hapsburgs and through into the twentieth century’s tumultuous struggles within Hungary. One suspects that for the cultural tourist, there’s quite a lot of reading that could be done in this room.
As Hungary’s first bona fide design hotel, Lánchíd 19 naturally offers all the usual mod-cons expected by the sophisticated traveller. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also consistently earned positive praise for attentive and excellent service. With only 46 rooms, it is also one of those hotels that manages to feel private and able take care of all of its guests properly.