Budapest Ferenc Liszt may not be the largest of airports and the airport was of course badly affected when the Hungarian national carrier Malev went bankrupt in 2012 and ceased all operations at the airport. So it may come as a surprise that there are in fact four lounges in terminal 2, three in the Schengen area and one in the non-Schengen area.
And by the way, there is no terminal 1 today. Terminal 1 was the original Soviet-style terminal which re-opened in 2005 to be used as a terminal for low-cost airlines. But when Malev filed for bankruptcy all low-cost airlines moved to terminal 2 as there was no longer any need for two terminals and terminal 1 consequently closed. So no matter what airline you fly and to what destination you will pass through terminal 2.
The lounges in the Schengen area, terminal 2A, are called SkyCourt Lounge, Menzies Aviation Lounge and Celebi Platinum Lounge. There is also a Celebi Platinum Lounge in terminal 2B, the non-Schengen area.
So which one is the best? Here are a few tips depending on what you are looking for.
In the Schengen area
This used to be the Malev Lounge but is now run as a third-party lounge and contracted by a large number of airlines. This is the largest lounge at the airport but unfortunately the interior has not changed much since the Malev days. In fact it does not seem to have changed at all. It is easily the oldest lounge at the airport and it is starting to look worn and tired. The best part of the lounge is the selection of food and drinks with some cold cuts, salads, pastries and desserts and with a fairly wide selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Menzies Aviation Lounge
Located just around the corner from the SkyCourt Lounge, also on the upper floor in the SkyCourt area, the Menzies Aviation Lounge is significantly smaller and used by far fewer airlines. The entrance is quite discreet and somewhat hidden. Once inside the design is much more modern and quite hip. There is also a large aviation wall with a cool DC-3 painting. Food and drinks are fairly limited with little to eat and the selection is definitely the worst of the lounges. A nice place if you want a drink and a snack in a nice, modern and quiet environment but it is not the best lounge if you want to eat properly.
Celebi Platinum Lounge
Located at the end of the Schengen gate area the Celebi Platinum Lounge is the furthest from check-in and the hardest to find. But although the lounge is small with seating for no more than about 40 guests it is a rather pleasant place with a modern design. The cold buffet is surprisingly good and definitely the best at the airport if you are looking for something more substantial to eat. The drinks selection is not bad either with some local Hungarian wines and liqueurs.
In the non-Schengen area
Celebi Platinum Lounge, Terminal 2B (non-Schengen)
There is just one lounge in the non-Schengen area (terminal 2B), the Celebi Platinum Lounge. However if you start your journey in Budapest you will pass through the SkyCourt and the Schengen area first, so you have the possibility to access the other lounges as well. Just allow time to pass through passport control after the lounge visit.
The Celebi Platinum Lounge in terminal 2B is identical to the Celebi Platinum Lounge in terminal 2A in terms of design and facilities but it is slightly larger. In contrast to the Schengen lounge it also has a view. Fairly good selection of food and drinks, also similar to the Schengen Celebi Lounge, with a good cold buffet and a nice selection of drinks.
If choosing between the Celebi Platinum Lounge in terminal 2A (Schengen) and the Celebi Platinum Lounge in terminal 2B (non-Schengen) the latter is better because of the view and as it is also much closer to the non-Schengen gates.