Staying Elsewhere -- Our Friends' Rentals, and Home Exchange listings and Other Websites

Our Friends' Apartments and Other Reliable Options

To be honest, I have come to conclude over time that who you rent from is far more important than what you rent.  Certainly in Budapest -- where there are lots of apartments to choose from, the vast majority of which are minimalist experiments in a post-socialist marketplace -- trying to assess amenity, comfort, location, and even safety (though Budapest is a remarkably safe and secure city) from afar is more than a challenge, it's a crapshoot.  We understand that our apartments are not for the answers to everyone's dreams, no matter how much we love them ourselves.  And more often than we had thought likely, we're fully booked and have to turn guests away.

Fortunately, several of our friends also rent out their places, and each place has its own personality and character.  Some are similar in style and amenity to what we try to do (Ross Kelly, for instance, shares a manager with us -- Ilona Molnar).  Others share the home-exchange spirit with which we approach renting our places out (Eliane Pickermann, for example, continues to define for us the intersection of hospitality and fun that we try to emulate in the relationships we develop with our guests).  Others are just good people renting out decent places at an affordable price. 

[Perhaps it goes without saying, but when we recommend something, we mean it; we never accept a commission from anyone for anything; we care about the quality of your trip, and about spreading the word about this fabulous city, and we mean it when we say these are our friends.

Here they are:

Ross Kelly flies the big jets for one of the major international airlines, and in his travels fell in love with Budapest and so now he has three places there that he rents out when he isn't using them himself.  One is in the heart of the Belvaros -- just off the Danube at Iranyi utca and Belgrad Rakpart (*a terrific value for a couple)-- an efficiency apartment with a single bed-sitting room with Murphy ned and a small balcony with a sidelong view of the Elizabeth bridge and the river.  Really charming, very bright, very comfy, absolutely terrific location (a block from Vaci utca, 5 minutes from bthe Central Market, easy access to Metros, easy walking distance to the National Museum, Great Synagogue, Vorosmarty ter...), and a wonderful value.  His other two -- Nagymezo 1 & 2 -- are adjacent apartments (Nagy 1 has 2 bedrooms, Nagy 2 has 1) and are in the building that houses the Operetta block from the Opera, one block from the Liszt Music Academy, half a block to Andrassy ut.  Also lovely, light, and airy.  Friends and family have stayed in Ross' apartments when ours haven't been available and really loved them.  And we share a manager ... Ilona Molnar.

Eliane Pickermann ... what can we say about Eliane?  Someday we hope to be as vivacious and enthusiastic in hosting guests in Budapest as she is.  We got into renting our places out after meeting Eliane through a home exchange, and everything we do is a pale emulation of her spirit and élan.  Her Hungarian parents sat out the socialist years in France, where Eliane was born, but she (an expert linguist, at home in French, Hungarian, English, German, and arguably Italian) has been back since the late 1980s.  Professionally, she owns a transport logistics company, but avocationally she's a modern Budapestian boulevardier and woman-about-town. She has an utterly extraordinary apartment on the once-seedy, now-trendy Rakoczi ter.  Stained glass, gilt hand-worked plaster ceilings, marble mantel above a period (working) fireplace.  Adjacent to a less touristy Market Hall and half a block from the ring road (korut).  A couple of blocks from the 5-star New York Hotel, easy walk to Oktogon and Andrassy ut, or to Blaha Lujsza, centrally located and well-served by public transit.  At present the square outside her window is a giant hole in the ground as they excavate the new Metro line that will have a stop nearby, and so the view is not what it was and will be, but Eliane has lowered her prices to take this into account (*while the construction continues, this place is without question the single best deal in the city).

Laurent Barban is a French manager who met Eliane through a home exchange and now co-owns an apartment with her and is making rapid progress towards immersing himself in all things Hungarian.  Whenever I want to know anything about the party scene in Budapest or the best place for brunch, I turn to Laurent, who keeps tavs on business gossip as well.  His place -- La Maison Orange -- is right on the ring road, a block from nthe Market Hall apartment, with a large bedroom and a living room with sleeping loft.  Quiet (because it overlooks the courtyard) despite its central location, bright, cheerful, and relentlessly orange.  Fully renovated just a couple of years ago, it's a wonderful place for 4-6 guests in a single group.

Gina Richter & Robert Sebes are an Australian couple with an affinity for Robert's Hungarian birthplace.  They own a large, very central apartment in Budapest that they visit only infrequently and have recently started to rent it out to holiday guests.  It's a comfortable, homey apartment renovated but not to the level of finish of the other apartments listed here (and so its rental rates are a bargain for a family or group looking for a terrific location with quiet (it overlooks a courtyard) and room to stretch out in).

Amy Mathis Bodor lives in the Washington DC area with her Hungarian-born husband and they own an apartment in Budapest that they rent out when they aren't using it themselves.  It's large (125 sq. metres) and includes a 20 sqm studio apartment that has a separate entry and is self-sufficient (they can be rented together or separately).  The location is hard to beat (opposite the Opera House) just off Andrassy ut, very near Ross' Kelly's Nagymezo apartments, and half a block from the Yellow Metro. 

Sonia di Centa owns an Italian language, cooking, and culture school in Siena in Tuscany.  We met her in Budapest and immediately realized how much we had in common with her and her partner Pino.  We have traveled together and stayed in each others' digs and always have a marvelous time when we're with her because of her infectious enthusiasm and buoyancy.  She and Pino and (their beautiful and charming daughter) live in a medieval farmhouse (with modern swimming pool) just outside Siena, and they have converted chunks of the farm and its outbuildings into several small apartments that they rent out to guests.  We have stayed there and had an absolutely glorious time.

Andy and Michelle Kehoe are a young (by our aging Boomers' clocks) American couple who chucked their day jobs and moved to Italy.  As they segued from romance to love they decided to get married in Dubrovnik, a city that charmed and delighted them.  In order to accommodate their family and friends they had to round up every available apartment rental in Dubrovnik, none of which were coordinated at the time.  They now run the most successful and extensive online reservation network for Dubrovnik rentals and are a bottomless fount of good-humored advice and information about travel there.

Home Exchanges

For us, all of this started out with exchanging our NYC apartment when we traveled around the world.  We discovered that the people we exchanged with were part of a worldwide culture of hospitality, friendship, travel and support, and it's still our preferred way to travel.  The only down side is that it's often difficult to make the dates and locations line up with one's needs, and so we started to rent apartments when we couldn't exchange.  Following Eliane's lead, we brought an exchanger's ethos to our apartments when we started to rent them out, the feeling that the place you are staying in is someone's home that they've only just stepped out of for a minute, and the warm welcome that comes from knowing that the people who will stay in your place are also trusting you with their own.  After a good deal of looking around, both online and in hardcopy, we settled down into (note the two 'e's in the center, there's another site with just one), and continue to believe that its the very best of a generally good but occasionally iffy lot.  Although it has become significantly less visitor-friendly since the original owner sold it, it remains an excellent collection of wonderful people around the world.  We get several inquiries a week and have consistently enjoyed not just the places but the people that we've stayed with over the past dozen years or so.

Other Rental Websites

Of all of these alternatives, this is the the trickiest and least consistently reliable option, but if all else fails you can find a decent place by diligently plowing through the listings and reading each one critically.  All of us who really care about what we do are happy to answer any reasonable question, and glad to have an opportunity to get to know our renters.  The websites we list above are the ones we use ourselves, and the ones we list on.  They have a wide range of Budapest listings and cater to userbases from different countries.  In the USA/English-speaking world, VRBO is far and away the best compilation of Budapest rentals.  For Germany, its sibling, FEWO-Direkt does the best job.  And in the French-speaking world Homelidays has a vast pile of Budapest listings. (FEWO-Direkt also lists in English at and Homelidays has English and other language versions of itself selectable online).  Note that all of these are just clearinghouses, collections of unvetted listings, and for Budapest at least there are plenty of dogs in among the gems.  We also recommend a selective website (primarily for French speakers, but it has an English version as well), with excellent live user support via email...  It can be somewhat more expensive, but they really help you find the place you want.  Finally, we have no direct experience with, but it comes highly recommend by guests whose judgment we trust.


We understand that our apartments may not work out for you.  The one you want may not be available on your dates, or you may be looking for something smaller or larger or cheaper or more lavish.

We want your stay to be perfect and your experience of the city to be all that you expect, so here are some other options:


Our Friends'  Apartments

see map below

Nagymezo 1

for 1-6 guests can be combined with Nagymezo 2

Nagymezo 2 for 1-3 guests

can be combined with Nagymezo 1

Belgrad rakpart for 1-2 guests

Rakoczi Market

for 1-7 guests

La Maison Orange

for 1-7 guests

Deák tér Classic

for 1-5 guests


for 1-5 guests