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From the neighboring Kempinski Corvinus to the Marriott, Budapest hotels nowadays meet the same high standards of extravagance and comfort than those in Paris, New York or Singapore. But, besides the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, the city was lacking a real palace hotel with a wow factor. Though our lucky eyes have seen the best which the hospitality industry can produce, and despite our experience with what The Ritz-Carlton can provide worldwide in terms of ultimate luxury, we must confess that their new Budapest property made us much impression. Is that possible that a hotel in Hungary can compete with Le Bristol Paris, The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, or The Ritz-Carlton Central Park New York ? It is, and we are staying in this hotel for a couple of days.

By definition, a palace hotel comes with a peerage. An exciting history. Located at Budapest Kilometer Zero, with no need to use taxi or walk more than a few minutes to tour the city or join a business meeting, the stone covered turn of the last century Adria Palace (that was the name for an insurance company) represents an outstanding architectural quality carefully preserved until it had been converted into a hotel (Le Meridien and, after an exemplary refurbishment to match the palace-hotel category, The Ritz-Carlton). None of the original architectural characteristics have been altered despite the years, damaged caused by a bomb during World War II, and conversion into the headquarter of the dreaded Budapest Police headquarter during the communist period. The wrought iron grilled Balconies in front of the 3rd-floor, and arched windows with French balconies on the upper floors have been restored to their former glory. This is the 8th-floor Club-Level, where the best suites are located.

We booked in one of them, next door to the chic and intimate Club Lounge, where gastronomic snacks are available all day long, as well as branded wine, liquor, and soft drinks. We already could enjoy the distinctive quality of the Club Lounge in further The Ritz-Carlton hotels, with a dedicated staff acting like private butlers with those who booked Club-Level rooms or some selected suites giving access to the privilege of this VIP corner into a VIP hotel.

Our 59 SQ M «Palace Suite» was eye-popping, yet not bling. It had the good taste of the other rooms and suites which we could inspect during our stay. As inviting as a prestige suite in a leading hotel could be, it had a large living room with a French balcony and a wonderful city perspective («Budapest Eye» wheel, House of Parlament, St. Stephen's Basilique, and the green Buda Hills). We found the fireplace, deep sofas, and state-of-the-art furniture matching the Plaza Athénée Paris or any other most established palace hotels.

The minibar, discretely set into a Ruhlmann-style cabinet, was certainly one the most noticeable in decades visiting the best hotels in the world. We could feel from every single detail that suites and rooms alike are tailored made for the happy few travelers. There was a separate bedroom, with a soothing color palette, and the comfiest bed and the ritziest marble bathroom in Hungary, with a collection of Asprey Purple Water toiletry. That was all 100% faultless. The «Palace Suite» would ideally suit a two or three days stay, yet a «Deluxe King Room» would be more than enough for a short business stay, or a tour. Those who like to make it princely should be informed that «The Ritz-Carlton Suite» and the «Royal Suite», which we could inspect, are from far the most luxurious in Budapest.

On the same floor was another bonus of the hotel: the SPA. The hotel needed to beat the Kempinski, which operates the most established SPA in town; and it did. Not because of the splendid equipment (fitness, steam bath, and sauna) nor the treatments, impeccable in both hotels, but thanks to the pool, larger and with a better view. We spent a lot of time there between two meetings, and this is with the Club Lounge what would incite us to book again in the hotel.

Another WOW factor is the ritzy lobby: certainly the most opulent in Budapest. It was already noticeable, with its cyclopean volume, when the hotel was still Le Meridien. But nothing to compare with The Ritz-Carlton. The heart of the hotel, «Kupola Lounge», gained a lot in style and prestige, beneath the monumental stained-glass cupola and grand crystal chandelier. With its high ceiling, black and white picture of the yesteryears Budapest, it reminds of the old coffee houses which made the reputation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with a modern twist.

The motivated and skillful staff called us by name, anticipating all our requests: the ultimate one is to come back to this astounding hotel, of course.


We couldn't stay at The Ritz-Carlton without ordering at the trendy «Kupola Bar» one of those international cocktails which make the reputation of a brand employing the best barmen, before dining at he coolest restaurant operated by The Ritz-Carlton group which we have visited, and certainly the most affordable: DSK Wine & Grill. Located on «Fashion Street», opposite to the hotel main entrance, it looks like a fashionable brasserie and one could hardly notice that this is a palace-hotel restaurant. No bling, no surly staff, but a relaxing atmosphere, a lovely design, and a pleasant terrace. Only a few details in the super professional attitude of the staff shows that we are at The Ritz-Carlton Budapest: shouldn't it be the white wine, served not as chilled as we like (but this was amended within a few minutes), the service was top-notch.

dsk ritz carlton best fine dining luxury gastronomic gourmet restaurant michelin star budapest hungary

DSK is a contraction for Deák St. Kitchen. Chef Attila Purger elaborates a light version of the typical Hungarian cuisine, paired with a collection of carefully selected Hungarian wine and liquors. It has a competitor with the neighboring ÉS Bisztró, at Kempinski Corvinus hotel, serving the same kind of cuisine. The rest of the district (except Onyx) is a gastronomic desert. We noticed immediately the top quality of the ingredients used by the chef. Our appetizer, «Sea Bass Tiradito», marinated with citrus, coriander, and chili, was the definition of freshness. We had almost the same
dish at the chic La Girafe Paris, one week later, and the price was triple compared with DSK (HUF 3,900 / USD 14). All the rest of our dinner was 70% cheaper compared with the fine-dining restaurants in the French capital city. It came together with a first «Mise-en-bouche» offered by the chef, half-way between a pizza and a «Pissaladière», topped with beef tartar, organic tomatoes, and paprika. It made us feeling like in Provence. Second «Mise-en-Bouche», the «Mackerel Potatoe Mustard Salad» tasted French and bistro. We paired everything with one glass of «Mad Tokaji Furmint Dry White Wine 2016» (HUF 2,600 / USD 9 by the glass), developing aromas of apple, pear, and honeysuckle, with a stony character: a bit like a «Sancerre».

Since we discovered «Mangalica», typical cholesterol-free Hungarian pork, certainly the best national delicacy with «Fogas» (the hard to find and now much-imitated pike-perch from the Lake Balaton), it is a part of our regular orders in the few restaurants cooking it as we like. Besides Nancsi Neni, DSK is the best place for «Mangalica», indeed. This is a simple dish, but the cooking time, after a perfect marination, matters more than the always controlled origin of this organic meat. It can be prepared under the form of ham, stew, sausage... We got it as a juicy, tender, and fragrant 200gr Sirloin Steak from the grill (HUF 5,200 / USD 18). So different from the pork meat, or even the wild-boar, it has a signature. Even with blinded eyes, we could feel that we are eating «Mangalica». This is, therefore, the dish which you imperatively should order, with a portion of «Fries Deluxe» (HUF 1,250 / USD 5): homemade like in the countryside, thick as we like, with truffle oil flavor, and salted with Parmeggiano cheese. A sin! Next visit to DSK, we shall just come for the «Fries Deluxe»! Note that, like in many steak-houses, there is a small extra for the sauce: we would suggest the succulent «Hungarian Habanero» (HUF 650 / USD 2.5). Pair it with white «Grof Buttler, Egri Chardonnay Superior, Szarkas, 2017» (HUF 3,600 / USD 12 by the glass), a mineral, complex wine from the Szarkás Hill. If you prefer red wine, «Thummerer, Superior Egri Bikaver, Védett Eredetü Bor, 2016» (HUF 3,800 / USD 13 by the glass) shows that the rough, usually heavy Egri Bikaver, Hungarian table wine by definition, can be surprisingly sophisticated when originated from the best wineries. With «Mangalica» both options are good, though we prefer the second one.

We pleasingly cleaned our palate with a «Trou Normand» (lemon sherbet), and
princely paired the signature dessert, «Our Famous Royal Chocolate Cake» (HUF 2,500/ 9 USD), with one glass of confidential «Szent Tamas, Mad, 3909, Tokaji Késöi Szüret, 2011» (HUF 5,000 / 17 USD per glass). A concentrated and elegant Tokay, with intense fruitiness and a great balance of sweetness and acidity. That was the ad hoc pairing with the strong cocoa aroma of the cake.

Those lucky enough to stay at The Ritz-Carlton Budapest will have the chance to repeat the gastronomic experience by upon wake-up, with the splendid breakfast served at DSK under the supervision of the always courteous maître d' Ferenc.

THE RITZ-CARLTON BUDAPEST: Erzsebet Ter 9-10, Budapest, 1051 Hungary
PHONE: +36 1 4295500


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