I had three free night certificates burning a hole in my pocket. They came from getting the sign-up bonus from the Chase Ritz-Carlton credit card and would expire in mid Sept. Ritz-Carlton nights are not to be spent unwisely, unlike the free nights from Marriott or Hyatt where the category level was limited. I plotted for months and finally came upon a grand vacation – four nights in Budapest! Now you may be asking, why four nights if I only had three free nights? That’s because I could use the fourth night free benefit of the Citi Prestige card. Now that benefit used to be better and would have given me the whole fourth night free, but Citi got wise to that too good to be true benefit and now only give you the base rate divided as a average of the four night stay. That was still a pretty good discount, so I took it. That fourth night was a charge of 304 Euro which demonstrates the huge value I was getting for the three free nights.
Arriving on Lufthansa, we went through the Budapest airport pretty quickly, but not before grabbing the Mini-Bud (great pun on a mini-bus) service to the hotel. The counter is located right at baggage claim. It cost 9800 Hungarian Forint (~$40), for a round trip ticket for my wife and I. Maybe I could have gotten a better deal from a taxi, but I had heard horror stories of taxis ripping off tourists and trying to get $40 just for a one way ride. The service worked out well and we got to the Ritz-Carlton 30 minutes later.
There was even a guy playing piano!
Pretty nice digs, but what did you expect for a Ritz-Carlton? I made a rookie mistake though. They said that even though I was a Marriott Gold, I was not entitled to the Club level, meaning no lounge access for me. Unless, I wanted to pay $120! I said no problem, I had three Club level upgrades with the credit card. However, after a long call to Marriott/ Ritz-Carlton rewards, they said that I couldn’t use my certs to upgrade as there was no availability on the Club level. I said I was fine with my room where it was and didn’t need to be on that level; I just wanted Club access. They said no can do, since they wanted to restrict access to the Club. OK, so I couldn’t use my free cert to get access, but if I paid them money then the overcrowding issue suddenly went away? Pretty lame and I took a pass. Figures we could eat on the economy for that much money and have more fun.
Our upgraded room was fantastic and a really good example of what can be done with renovating an old hotel.
The bathroom was equally nice.
I loved this antiquated touch. There was a box in the closest where you could leave your shoes and have them back spit-shined by the morning. Darn and I didn’t have my jump boots with me!
The hotel had a nice, but small gym, a restaurant that we didn’t try (looked expensive), a breakfast that was definitely expensive (~$39 for full breakfast) and a cute bar.
Despite some minor criticisms, we actually loved the hotel. The location was perfect for a tourist – very central to everything. We would love to come back and stay here again – we just have to figure out how to get a way to do it for free/ low cost!