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An inviting pool in Budapest's Danubius Hotel Gellért (Photograph by HP Huber/Sime)

Budapest’s Grand Hotels

With its title alone, Wes Anderson‘s new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, conjures up a vision of Old World elegance.

The quirky comedy stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge of a legendary hotel in a fictionalized central European country. But hotels do once again play starring roles in the Hungarian capital, headlining a blockbuster renovation sweeping from Castle Hill in Buda to newly brightened Kossuth Square in Pest.

Century-old buildings have been meticulously restored to house luxe lodgings. Four Seasons Gresham Palace looks like a wedding cake on the banks of the waltz-inspiring Danube, and the Buddha-Bar Hotel Klotild Palace manages to gracefully present Orient-meets-Habsburg opulence in a modern way.

The grande dame remains the Danubius Hotel Gellért, completed in 1918, with the facade perhaps most similar to Anderson’s set. The hotel’s art nouveau thermal baths are still fit for an archduke (guests enjoy direct access via private elevator), though the faded rooms themselves could use some of the city’s makeover magic.

Head out of the hotel, cross the street, and walk up Gellért Hill for a panoramic view of a city that architecturally echoes Vienna, Paris, and Rome. “Go to Budapest,” writes András Török in Budapest: A Critical Guide, “and you see all of Europe.”

> Tip: A soak in the Gellért baths starts at $22; admiring the lobby’s stained-glass windows and mosaic floors is free.

> Travel Trivia: On the city’s Buda side, Elvis Presley Park hails the singer’s support of Hungary’s anti-Soviet revolution of 1956.

Amy Alipio is an associate editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her story on Twitter @amytravels and on Instagram @amyalipio.