Budapest is one of central Europe’s jewels. And when visiting a jewel, you should always 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, and its neighbour ancient, 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. And she’s still showing no signs of giving up her title.
Built on sleek modern lines with a lot of glass, Lánchíd 19 is 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.
The hotel offers stunning views of the river from numerous points. Those who really want to take advantage of this can splash out and opt for the Panorama Suite from which one can take in the view from a terrace, through huge windows in less clement weather, or even soaking in the tub overlooking the romantic Danube skyline.
The style of the suite and the entire hotel 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 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 set up 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 Habsburgs and through into the twentieth century’s tumultuous struggles within Hungary. 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 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.