Budget Lodging in Budapest
August 20, 2005 6:23 AM   Subscribe

BudaPestFilter: accomodation and arrival questions. I'll be there in early October, wondering how necessary it is, arranging something in advance.

I travel solo, and although I can afford more stars, I'd rather not pay so much -- while visiting Europe previously I've generally found one star hotels to be quite adequate, in general. (Still a backpacker, all these years later, though I can no longer tolerate a hostel's barracks scene.) Pre-trip research suggests that advance arrangements result in better rates, and a reservation on the first night is always nice to have, but most of these on-line deals like Expedia seem only to deal with hotels rated three stars, and above -- and for Budapest, I hear taking a private room may be the way to go, something spontaneous arranged with a local upon arrival (or an agency like Ibusz). (But they insist on three or four nights miniumum?)

Any experience and/or recommendations, please share.

Also greatly appreciated, any tips to aid in overcoming bewilderment, upon arrival at the train station in the afternoon. (Jet lag won't be an issue; I'll have been in Europe for a couple weeks by the time I arrive in Pest.)
posted by Rash to Travel & Transportation around Budapest, Hungary (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
i would not worry about arriving without accomodation - it's what i did for a full month across eastern europe. i arrived in budapest without accomoadation a few weeks ago (peak season) and didn't have any trouble finding a place. granted, i was with three other people so we were better able to leverage our buying power that way. we rented a flat for three days through ibusz without trouble. however, since it sounds like this is your first stop, it may be better to avoid the possibility of stress and feeling overwhelmed and have something already arranged. personal preference.
i have also heard good things (personally, not through a guidebook) about the Backpack Guesthouse, but have not experienced it personally. it's located on the buda side of the city, if that is a consideration.

part 2 - bewilderment avoidance: if you're arriving into Keleti Pu. be aware that the metro isn't running from there presently, but may by the time you arrive. replacement bus service is regular however and well marked. to get downtown, just go outside the station and to your left - can't miss it - the busses are marked with the metro line it is replacing, the M2.
also, almost all the people running the metro ticket booths are old women who do not speak english so have a good idea of what you want and close to exact change ready before you get to the front of the line.
posted by whatitis at 6:35 AM on August 20, 2005

City Centre Apartments was a great deal for me the last time I was there, and they're very helpful - you can get in touch via email and make arrangements in advance. They rent rather nice apartments and rooms by the day; the price varies depending on exactly what size room in which apartment, but it's much cheaper than a hotel, no matter what. Talk to them in advance and they can probably coordinate roommates for you.

Their biggest block of apartments is RIGHT downtown; the minibus will get you and all your stuff there easily and cheap or, if you're travelling pretty light there's the Reptér Busz which costs next to nothing and will get you to the #3 metro terminus.

There's great hiking in the Duna-Ipoly national park in the Danube bend area, that leads to lots of little towns with plenty of "Zimmer Frei" signs (I don't know why they are always in German), even during peak times.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:29 AM on August 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

Post this question on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree - they often have a bunch of folks who have already done the route you're thinking of and have great reccomendations.
posted by mulkey at 7:51 AM on August 20, 2005

Oops - I missed that you're arriving at the train station, which is much easier than the airport. It's walking distance to City Centre, or you can take the #7 bus (which will probably have a broken ticket vending machine on it, so buy a couple tickets or, more economically, a week's transit pass - hetijegy - in the underground area at the train station.)

There are three train stations in Bp and you don't say where you're coming from; you're probably coming to the Keleti, but find out for sure.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:25 AM on August 20, 2005

I was there a few years ago around the same time of year; it was a great city and I wished I had more than the two-ish days I spent there.
IIRC, we arrived with no plans and somehow found a hostel when we arrived, probably through some agency at the train station. We had about 4 people and managed to get a nice private room in a hostel, which was a good compromise between nice hotel and dorm-room hell. I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to find a single in a hostel or pensione-type place for not much more than $20 or $30, especially that time of year. I had good experiences in that part of the world renting apartments for a couple of days, too, even from some random chick in the train station (ah, to be young[er] and reckless again. I probably wouldn't be as trusting now).
I would leave some time for just wandering and exploring, there were a lot of cool little shops and restaurants outside of the major tourist areas. I remember talking to some clerks at vintage clothes stores/record stores/etc and got some info about some cool-sounding parties and shows, but I didn't stay too long to go to anything like that.
As others have warned, we had trouble communicating with people at the metro station. No German speakers, even, which was a little shocking, because we expected to find at least that. And the only Hungarian I knew then (and still) was either very rude or drug-related (I worked with a Hungarian girl in a hostel). So that was a little challenging.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 1:45 PM on August 20, 2005

Got a wonderful place for around $17US a night from "some random chick in the train station" when I went a few years back.
I'm thinking it would have been july or august.
Stayed 3 nights but I don't recall there being a minimum.

mind-blowingly picturesque stairwell.
posted by juv3nal at 3:42 PM on August 20, 2005

Response by poster: To follow up, the "random chick in the train station" method worked for me. She has three places, the one I chose was in fact shabby but perfectly located and had amenities I desired.

You can email her at budainfo@hotmail.com
posted by Rash at 6:29 AM on October 9, 2005

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