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THE DEAL: Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

Budalobby_1 WHY IT’S A CONTENDER: The hotel opened in 2004 in the restored 1906 Gresham Palace in Pest, one of the grandest and most important Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. With its dramatic setting at the foot of the Chain Bridge and views across the Danube to Buda, the hotel is posh, plush and painstakingly detailed, from tilework to mosaics to stained glass.

(Photos courtesy Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest)

It was a two-year, $110-million restoration. Many of the 179 guest rooms and spacious suites have views of the Danube or the old city. There are also romantic domed rooms in the two towers, with views of the Danube and the city from all windows. And the Spa incorporates treatments that are inspired by Budapest’s rich spa heritage. Budacafe

Pava is the fine dining restaurant, but I’m partial to the Gresham Kavehaz, which serves throughout the day, and is one of the chicest restaurants in the city. Just strolling through the hotel’s multi-storied lobby counts as a memorable moment.

WHO SHOULD GO: Anyone in need of a European fall fix who’s never been to this magical city. Or who finds the idea of Paris and London prices a little too daunting.

Budroom_1 THE ROOMS: In a word, expansive. That’s due in part to the exceptionally high ceilings and large windows.

MORE REASONS TO STAY: The hotel’s spa was designed in homage to the city’s spa heritage but the facilities are aimed at 21st century sensibilities. Set in a rooftop aerie of polished marble, with angled windows providing a view of Budapest rooftops, the main space has a lap pool with infinity edges. A signature treatments is the Tokaji Revitalising Package, 110 minutes long (Tokaji, of course, is the famous Hungarian wine). It begins with a body scrub with brown sugar and Tokaji spirit, followed by a Swedish massage and a wrap using Tokaji spirit. At the end of the treatment, an optional glass of Hungarian Tokaji is recommended.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: You can walk to dozens of restaurants, cafes and sights from Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest.

WHAT’S THE DEAL: A bed and breakfast package currently starts at 350 Euros per night, about $443. Between November 1 and December 28, 2006, it drops to 260 Euros, about $329. Inexpensive, no. But not only are you getting the city’s best. Considering that a similar package at Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris is 750 Euros, about $950, it begins to look like a rather good deal.

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INSIDER TIP: The best rooms have views of the Chain Bridge, which is brilliantly lit at night.

THE DETAILS: Roosevelt Ter. 5-6. Budapest; 800-819-5053; www.fourseasons.com

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