Danubius Hotel Astoria – Budapest, Hungry

I don’t have the highest regard for traditional hotels but that doesn’t mean that I dislike them all. And certainly in many travel situations a hotel is the easiest way to travel. Particularly if you are planning on seeing multiple locations in a short period of time. Or if you are the type of person with the type of budget to eat at restaurants for every meal when you travel.


That being said I would whole heartedly recommend the Danubius Hotel Astoria in Budapest. It was in fact the first hotel I ever stayed in outside of the United States (excluding Canada) on my first ever European adventure. I was 17, a senior in high school, traveling with some of my best friends and some very kind teacher chaperones.

After driving to Portland getting on a plane, laying over in Chicago, laying over again in Frankfurt, landing in Budapest and taking a shuttle stuffed with 15 of my class mates, we were all tried, hungry, cranky and totally regretting our decision to come on the trip. Admit it, we have all been there. Travel fatigue is real.

Looking at the pictures I think they have done a few renovations, not a real surprise given I was there 15 plus years ago. But it still appears to retain the simple old world comforts I recall.

As a side note we were all thrilled at staying at a hotel called Astoria (since we were from Astoria). Whether or not the name was coincidence or on purpose remains to be seen. The rooms were impeccably clean, with traditional twin beds or twin beds pushed together depending on the configuration of the room. Clean white linens, duvet covers (which most of us uncultured youth thought were too short sleeping bags) and beautifully tiled showers. Speaking of uncultured youth we were all convinced the hotel was haunted. In retrospect we were just dealing with a very old finicky elevator, but we spent our time riding the service elevator and sneaking through the back kitchen to the lobby because we were too scared to ride the main elevators.

My favorite thing about the hotel was the dining room and breakfast. When we landed it was late but our teachers made us walk around the city until lights-out to help us adjust to jet lag. We were tired, cranky and mostly just walking with our eyes half open.

So my first real European experience was the stunning banquet room and European style breakfast provided to us. I vividly recall stuffing my face with croissants and cheeses whose names I could never even begin to pronounce and the MANY trips back to the silver samovars filled with hot chocolate. I felt like royalty sitting in a marble dining room, with velvet tufted chairs and floor to ceiling windows overlooking a city halfway across the world to where I was 48 hours prior.


As an added bonus the hotel was nicely situated walking distance to quite a few locations, in the three days we were there we got to see the Great Market Hall one of the oldest indoor markets in Hungry. As well as the main market square in the inner city that hosts outdoor vendors on a regular basis. The Hungarian State Opera House is in walking distance.  Which I loved and never wanted to leave after our tour.

It is also a quick jaunt to the Danube River and the Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) which takes you directly across the river to the Gellért Monument and Döbrentei squareRudas Thermal Bath (Rudas gyógyfürdő) and the Citadell which was built under the Haspburg name during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I hope someday to get the chance to revisit this beautiful hotel and enchanting city. As my first European jaunt and the first view into a wider world at large it holds a special place in my heart. And stomach, I seriously cannot stop thinking about that breakfast!

Side note on the pictures, these were taken pre-digital age so the quality is expectantly poor. Also I am not cropping out anyone out of unkindness, just protecting the innocent.

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Hilton Minneapolis – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The last time I was in Minneapolis for work I was put up in the Hilton Minneapolis downtown but toward the end of the skyway. It is the third hotel I have stayed in for work out there and by far my favorite.

Despite the lobby being torn up for remodeling and the fact that every single time I went back to the hotel via the front entrance (rather than the skyway) I had to go through a different door the experience on a whole was quite lovely. I actually didn’t even mind the musical doors, it just made me chuckle.

The rooms were simple, clean and well equipped. Complete with hair dryer, nice sample sized shampoo, coffee pot and a TV with normal channels. Have you ever been to a hotel where they have cable but they have the strangest channels accessible?! So strange. The shower did not make strange squealing noises which seems to be common for me, and the temperate control was actually controllable.

They also had a really nice dining room/bar area. A REALLY great breakfast buffet full of fresh cut, not wilted sad, fruit. Fresh pastries, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, tons of cereal choices, bagels, fresh lox and GREAT coffee. The gym on the mezzanine level was also nicely equipped, clean, new and not stuffy. I didn’t try to pool but plenty of other people did and they clearly loved it.

In addition to all the other pluses and a must have for any hotel in Minneapolis if you are there for work, is the connection to the skyway. Never have I spent more time in a place with such changeable and challenging weather. And while I still find it odd in concept, I find the skyway a complete lifesaver when getting to and from meetings pretty much year round. No more worrying about wearing or carrying things that work for both subzero or crazy hot and humid PLUS office. You can get from hotel to office without ever leaving a climate controlled environment even if it is several blocks away. Brilliant.

McMenamins Hotels – Oregon

I am sure locals to the Portland Metro Area have a lot to say about McMenamins franchise as a whole. Some love them and some hate them. It is just one of those things.

I have no strong feelings either way on the restaurants. The food is fine, the service is usually fast and the interiors are pretty interesting. The thing that my husband and I really like though as the destination hotels. Particularly the Edgefield, Kennedy School and Grand Lodge locations.

Edgefield will always be my favorite. With cheap beautiful rooms, several bars and restaurants, a golf course, spa, music venue and theater it is really an mini vacation just outside the city. I have spent several birthdays there, playing golf and using the spa. They also have a large outdoor music venue that I have enjoyed several concerts at.


**Sunset on Grand Lodge table tops**

Kennedy School was our go two for a long time, it was near our house. And with several bars, billiard games, a soaking pool and a theater it was a great place for date nights and with hotel rooms if you couldn’t drive home, you could always check in and get a delicious breakfast before going home. We had our VERY informal rehearsal dinner here and had our wedding pictures taken in one of the court yards. A couple months ago a friend and I even stayed over so that we could go to a Bowie cover band and then not have to drive all the way back out of the city after the show.

 

**Kennedy School Views**

The Grand Lodge is new to us, but is currently the closest location to our house. With a hotel, spa, soaking pool, theater, and disc golf course we wind up spending a good deal of time down there. We haven’t managed to make it there for a movie or even Frisbee golf. But we did walk around a medieval festival this spring and I can usually be found sitting on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee or a drink while reading a good book.


**Grand Lodge’s porch**

All the hotel locations are great for weekend getaways, there is plenty to do, you never have to actually leave them and everything is relatively well priced. I love staying for special events, since we now live out of the city it is really fun to stay at one of the hotels so we don’t have to go back. Or even for a special even like New Years, with inclusive design you can have a drink, walk around, try a different bar and then just wander back to your room. No driving needed.