Consistently ranked amongst the best cities in the world for visitors, Budapest plays a significant political and economic role in Europe so corporate travellers will find a dynamic, safe and well-facilitated city in which to do business. While I’ve found it isn’t as cheap as you might expect, it’s certainly not as prohibitively expensive as some other European capitals I’ve been to.
If you find yourself in Budapest on a business itinerary, these highlights I’ve discovered along the way might make your life easier.
Getting to Budapest
From London, the flight time to Budapest is about 2hrs 20 minutes. If you’re working to a tight schedule I strongly suggest pre-booking a private airport shuttle as the best way to ensure a fast, efficient transfer to your hotel or meeting venue after you land at Budapest Airport. The journey into the city will only take around 50 minutes this way.
A number of carriers including British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian operate direct routes to Budapest, with around 88 flights a week from which to choose. With flights out of Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick and Stansted there are plenty of options to get you there at a suitable time of the day.
I’ve never had too much time to kill at Budapest Airport, but for those that do it’s certainly no hardship, with some excellent tax-free shops and a host of fast-food outlets, cafés and restaurants.
WiFi: You can use the free WiFi (for two hours) anywhere in the terminals and also out on the Observation Terrace.
Yum Cha: One thing I have taken advantage of is the delicious Yum Cha restaurant in the SkyCourt. The fresh Asian flavours were just what I needed after a couple of days of a heavy Hungarian diet!
Observation Terrace: Situated at the Terminal 2A departure hall on the mezzanine level, the Observation Terrace is a great place to get some fresh air before your flight and check out the comings and goings of aircraft. There’s a café and bar up there as well, but it’s not open during winter.
My Favourite Budapest Business Hotel
More and more excellent hotels are offering dedicated facilities for business and executive travellers but, from my experience, the Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge gets it just right in every way.
The luxury rooms offer views over the famous Castle and Chain Bridge and their onsite Paris Budapest Café serves up some amazing fusion cuisine if you’re entertaining clients, as I was. But I find that it really excels in the business facilities it offers. There’s a dedicated Business Centre with all the high-tech capabilities, as well as meeting and banquet facilities if you’re hosting a small or large-scale event.
The hotel’s location makes it the perfect base to conduct business right in the city centre, and I just loved being able to wander along the river in the evenings to wind down.
A Couple of Others….
I’ve found the Regency Suites Hotel to be another very good central base in the heart of the city. It’s just a short walk from the main subway hub and offers excellent facilities for executive and business travellers. As well as free WiFi throughout, work desks in the rooms and a dedicated business corner (including access to fax, photocopying and dry cleaning services), there’s a large conference room with loads of natural light for up to 40 guests. The conference room opens up to the Sky Bar and corporate catering can be arranged.
The Eurostars Budapest Center is another place that suits business travellers to a tee. It’s got a superb central location and there’s a dedicated conference floor with a reception, cloakroom, buffet service area and three conference rooms to cater for between 28-280 guests. There’s free WiFi and a business centre for fax and photocopying. The hotel has a very corporate feel about it and I liked the professional vibe – the friendly and accommodating staff really topped off my experience.
Wining & Dining Your Clients
I’ve taken several clients to Costes Restaurant (yes, I’ll admit I was trying to impress them!), and I certainly haven’t heard any complaints. The food in this place is amazing, under the guidance of Executive Chef, Miguel Rocha Vieira – for foodies, the fact that he spent time in the kitchens of El Bulli gives an idea of his credentials. It was the first Hungarian restaurant to receive a Michelin Star (in 2010) and, with impeccable service, wonderful ambience and mind-blowing cuisine, it is consistently rated as the best in the country.
Costes’ tagline is “without compromise” (or if you want to get technical it’s actually “kompromisszumok nélkül”), so if you’re looking to indulge your clients with a very special and memorable fine dining experience, I can tell you this is the place to do it.
Time to spare….
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a fair bit of spare time in Budapest and, aside from simply wandering along the Danube Promenade and enjoying the marvellous architecture of the city centre, I love to head up to Castle Hill and take a stroll through the medieval streets to the gates of Bude Castle. Even if you don’t have time to go in it’s a spectacular sight – especially illuminated at night.
Another lovely walk I discovered quite by accident as I wandered the delightful cobbled city streets took me to the spectacular Parliament, right on the riverbank. This stunning Neo-Gothic building is actually the third largest parliament in the world and its massive size is only eclipsed by its beauty.
For a little light relief from business, I once took a local’s advice and escaped to explore the green spaces of City Woodland Park, which is also home to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. I wasn’t dressed (or undressed) for it, but the huge open air Széchenyi Medicinal Bath was pretty tempting! Also, it was the day I was taking a client to Costes, so I was on a tight schedule. Maybe next time…
If you need to travel to Budapest to do business, you may be pleasantly surprised (as I was) at just how well it caters to corporate guests, with superb accessibility, excellent accommodation and hi-tech conferencing facilities.
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