European city comparison: Zurich vs Budapest

Zurich and Budapest are primed European heavyweights on the C&I scene, but which one is topping the pitch list for 2016?

Budapest at dusk
Budapest at dusk

Zurich

New hotels

In the last 18 months or so, Zurich has seen a flurry of openings that have enhanced the city’s five-star luxury offering. The stylish 245-room Kameha Grand Zurich opened in March last year to a wave of excitement from international incentive planners. A luxury rooftop spa, four fine-dining outlets offering cuisines from Italian to Japanese and 11 themed suites have made the property one of the most sought after stays in the city. A sleek event hall with space for 960 delegates and a variety of breakout spaces makes it a tantalising prospect for meeting planners, as well.

Atlantis by Giardino was unveiled in December following a major renovation and has been a major hit for C&I groups since the turn of the year. The 95-room property located 15-minutes from the city centre is split into three wings and offers an indoor pool and spa, two restaurants and flexible meeting space for up to 200 delegates.

Dining out

Food and drink is always an excellent entry point into a city’s culture and Zurich’s choice of seriously Swiss eat-outs is vast. Fondue is an obvious choice and restaurants such as Swiss Chuchi, Frau Gerolds Garten and Restaurant Felsenegg come highly recommended by the Zurich Convention Bureau. The world’s first vegetarian restaurant, Bar-Lounge Hiltl, can be found in the city centre and is well worth a visit for its 100+ veggie specialties.

Incentives on the scene

The countryside that surrounds Zurich is a welcoming prospect for incentive groups that want to combine a city break with a burst of nature. Lake Ageri is a stunning destination for boat cruises, hiking and water sports, as well as a few quiet restaurants for private dining and a few glasses of wine.

Budapest

New hotels

In September, the grandiose Elizabeth Park Hotel, Budapest closed to undergo a significant renovation to transform the property into a new Ritz-Carlton offering by Spring 2016. The centrally located Ritz-Carlton, Budapest will reopen with new luxury suites and several additions to the hotel's dining outlets to make the 198-room property one of the most luxurious in the city.

In March 2015, the 49-room Aria Hotel Budapest became the Library Hotel Collection's latest property situated in the historic centre of Pest. Music plays a unique part in the concept of the hotel, with each of its four wings dedicated to its own distinct genre, including classical, opera, contemporary and jazz.

Dining out

The mighty Danube, which crawls it’s way between Buda and Pest remains an incredibly popular choice for group dining. The Danube Legenda Boat offers a two-and-a-half hour cruise with live music, a la carte menu and an open terrace so delegates can enjoy the views of the Buda Castle Auarter and the city’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Incentives on the scene

Budapest is famed for its thermal baths, which date back to the Turkish occupation of the 14th century. However, the city offers far more for incentive activities than a day of pampering and there is so much to explore!

Begin a day in the Hungarian capital by renting Trabants for a three-hour city tour. The East German tin boxes are an affectionate throwback to the old Communist days for many Budapestians and, with a guide in each car, are arguably one of the most enjoyable ways to see the city.

More:

Zurich on a budget

Major overhaul planned for Kongresshaus Zurich

5 things you didn't know about: Budapest

2016 event trends: Eastern Europe's appeal

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