Spanning the mighty Danube river, Budapest has lots to offer event organisers – just remember your swimming costumes
Gundel, one of the city’s oldest restaurants, counts our own monarch among its previous guests. Indeed, the Queen Elizabeth Ballroom features five ornate chandeliers and precious-metal flourishes throughout – a regal space for a gala dinner. Michelin-starred Borkonyha has a cellar full of local fine wines, and a contemporary approach to classical Hungarian cuisine. For a dramatic backdrop, you can’t go wrong with Spoon The Boat Restaurant, a vessel permanently moored on the Danube with prime views of the city’s famous Chain Bridge and across the river to Buda Castle.
Hungexpo covers a site the size of a village. Close to the airport, it attracts business from around the world and features several eye-wateringly large spaces. European football body Uefa held its 40th Ordinary Congress here last year. On the Buda side of the Danube, Budapest Congress Centre features the 2,000-capacity Patria hall. With hi-spec AV, excellent acoustics and 400sq m of exhibition space, it’s easy to imagine, say, a tech firm hosting a product launch here. The city’s most striking space is the baroque Grand Ballroom at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, which certainly lives up to its name: imposing paintings of famous figures from Hungarian history are offset by chandeliers and gilt.
Check in at the five-star, 400-bedroom Corinthia Hotel Budapest and your group will enjoy king-size beds, a spacious living area, Bose audio technology, and bathrooms with marble-topped surfaces. Tony Blair and Helen Mirren are among the British VIPs who’ve overnighted here. As well as three fine-dining restaurants, there’s a Royal Spa offering some welcome tranquillity away from the busy streets. Its centrepiece is a recently refurbished swimming pool dating back to 1886. Taking the waters, you soon realise, is part of everyday life here. Conveniently linked to the hotel is the 740sq m Valletta Exhibition Centre.
Hungary was the birthplace of Harry Houdini, the great escapologist. Today, Budapest has been hailed as the global capital of escape games. Parapark gives groups of up to six an hour to solve their way out of a locked room. For something a little less taxing, the naturally hot springs at the Szechenyi Baths in City Park are the place to unwind. Groups can go on guided tours of its three outdoor and 15 indoor pools before taking a dip. Fancy the sound of the recently restored Castle Garden Bazaar and its lush Renaissance gardens? Go To Hungary can organise a tour. To see the city from a slightly different angle, hop aboard with Legenda River Cruises.
Go To Hungary (+36 1 438 8080) offers free advice and a venue-finding service for event organisers
Next up, discover the meetings capital of the world with this destination feature on Las Vegas.
This article was originally published in SquareMeal Venues + Events, Spring/Summer 2017