The art’otels are perhaps more like auteur hotels—every detail created or curated by the hand of a single artist, resulting in a rather more unified vision than the typical committee-designed chain hotel, and an escape from uninspired hotel art to boot. In this case the auteur is the American artist Donald Sultan, whose close-up still-lifes teeter on the edge between realism and abstraction, a conceit that, beyond its artistic merits, makes for eye-catching interior design.
Located on the banks of the Danube, on the Buda side, the art’otel Budapest occupies four 18th-century houses and one new building, making for spectacular water views on one side, and a look at the Castle Hill from the other. Guest rooms are divided between the new and old buildings, and contrary to expectations, the newer ones are the smaller though they compensate with views of the Danube. The historic houses have a bit more personality, with heavy old metal doors and separate showers.
The color scheme is a brilliant red and a metallic grey, a refreshing break from the prevailing cloud-white of less confident boutique hotels. And the Chelsea restaurant is something to behold, serving lighter foreigner-friendly Hungarian fare in a handsome dining room, with black-and-white checked floors and possibly the least cloying butterfly image we’ve ever seen, courtesy of Donald Sultan, of course. Book early, as this is one of Budapest’s top hotels—we’d like to say it’s a well-kept secret, but the word is out on this one.