Estelle Sarney and Grant Bradley check into the Sofitel Chain Bridge in Budapest.


Hard to beat. On the banks of the River Danube, near the Hungarian Parliament, great spas, shopping and the Castle on the Buda side of the river.

History: This was built in the early 1980s while "Goulash Communism" prevailed in Hungary and was a joint venture between Accor and the now-defunct Hungarian airline Malev. It's a grand statement with a soaring atrium and from the ceiling there's suspended a full-size replica of the first plane that flew across the English Channel.


Check-in experience: Excellent. We were early after disembarking from our Avalon Waterways cruise (the company puts passengers who opt for it up in this luxury hotel), and we were offered full use of the hotel's facilities to freshen up.

Room: A Luxury Queen with French styling on the sixth floor. It was 28sq m, with a 40" TV, marble bathroom with a tub, minibar and super comfortable furniture.

What's in the neighbourhood? Budapest's main attractions.

Food and drink: This is high-end, so it was a trip to the bottle shop across the road to buy something to toast our good fortune in room allocation rather than blowing the budget on the mini bar. Breakfast was part of the deal and the choice was abundant and delicious within a recently remodelled mezzanine area.

The bed: Exquisitely comfortable.

The view: Breathtaking. The Danube, Chain Bridge and Castle were before our eyes when we pulled back our blinds. Excellent for ship watching on this stretch of water, which is not just about river cruising but a crucial cargo route for Central Europe, great to see the bustle of the city from our sound-proofed observation post.

Bathroom: A marble bathroom, which reflected the era of the hotel but had a deep wash basin, bathtub and Les Notes de Lanvin shampoo, conditioner and had a tub.

Wi-Fi? Super fast, free.

Price/Value for money: $411-$526 depending on demand. Facilities: A large indoor swimming pool, sauna , and a wide range of spa treatments on offer. There's a gym and a terrace bar at street level to get more of a taste of the local scene. There's also a casino next door.

What's so good about this place? An amazing view from our room and a plane hanging from the ceiling. It also passed the most basic test: We had an iron and ironing board in our room. The hotel also accommodates pets for $50 a day but they must be under 7.5kg.

Would I return? It was 27 years since our last trip to Budapest, so who knows?