A weekend in Budapest
If Music be the food of love…stay at The Aria in Budapest.
When I discovered that The Aria in Budapest had been voted the number one hotel in the world to stay at on Trip Advisor, I just had to check it out for myself. So, with a few clear days in my diary a week before Christmas, I thought it would be the perfect, romantic, wintery, city getaway with my husband. Despite of the amount of travelling I have done, Budapest wasn’t somewhere I knew much about, other than it was the capital city of Hungary and was just a 2-hour flight from the UK.
As our car pulled up outside The Aria, it was picture perfect. The air was crisp; the snow was falling, and the hotel looked like a colonial house with pretty fairy lights suspended from the juliette balconies above. With just 46 rooms, this boutique hotel is located just a street away from The Budapest Eye (a huge Ferris wheel much like the London Eye), a short walk from Fashion Street (with its array of designer shops), and is surrounded with a vast choice of bars and restaurants to suit a variety of budgets. The Aria also happens to be within easy reach of the underground train system, so it’s perfectly situated if you want to see a great deal of the city in just a few days.
If you a fan of music, art and good food, Budapest is a must-see city on your travel bucket list and the musical concept of The Aria hotel works perfectly here. As you enter the hotel, you step on to a marble floor with a piano like path. The black and white piano keys lead you into a central courtyard which protected from the elements with a glass roof and is adorned with flowers. At the end of that path you find a Baby Grand Piano where each afternoon a talented pianist plays and sings whilst you are able to enjoy the complimentary wine and cheeseboard on offer, a nice touch I thought.
The bedrooms are laid out over 6 floors and are accessed via a lift found on each corner of the courtyard. With a classical quarter, an opera quarter, a jazz quarter or a contemporary quarter, there are a choice of themed rooms to suit your musical taste. We were lucky enough to experience a night in each of them. Our favourite style of room was in the classical quarter, not because it is our favoured choice of music but because it had a window overlooking the street to the front of the hotel letting in natural light. Our favourite bathrooms were in the contemporary and jazz themed quarters which both had open plan bedrooms featuring a roll-top bath. All of the rooms offered a ‘pillow menu’ which we didn’t make use of, but this seems to be becoming an increasingly popular thing for hotels to advertise.
Breakfast is served in the courtyard. With an a-la-carte menu as well as a ‘help yourself buffet’, there is a good choice and Eggs Benedict was particularly nice.
My favourite place to spend time in at The Aria was in the High Note Bar on the 7thfloor. Not just because the musically themed cocktails and desserts were delicious (cloak and dagger was my top choice), but also because there were some fantastic views of the surrounding architecture that you can find in the city. The hotel spa which can be found on the lower level is another wonderful place to spend a few hours. The black and white mosaic art work along the side of the swimming pool which features a jazz band is striking. The low-level purple and white lighting certainly helps to create a relaxing atmosphere and the large circular day beds are a nice place to lay after enjoying one of spa’s delightful massage treatments.
All of the staff at the Aria were pleasant however the one member of staff that completely stood out for us was Szilvia Bata. Szilvia was quite possibly one of the best hotel concierges we have ever experienced. She was friendly, informative and most importantly honest. She put together the perfect itinerary to really help us get the most out of our visit to Budapest. She went above and beyond staying at work later than she should have to ensure our various dinner reservations were secured, our boat trip tickets along the Danube were booked and that we knew exactly which underground train we had to ride to take us to one of the best thermal spas in the city.
I highly recommend a stay at The Aria and a visit to Budapest over the festive season. The Christmas markets also a nice place to wander around whilst you enjoy traditional beef goulash served in a bread roll.
If you are looking for somewhere fun to spend a Friday evening, Zeller often has chilled but funky live music. If you want somewhere more upmarket, Zeya (who’s distinctive logo features a bald cat) is one of the best in the city.
OTHER MUST-SEE SIGHTS
Ensure you take a boat ride on the Danube. It’s a beautiful trip at night when you can see all the wonderful buildings along the river lit up. During the day, visit the iron shoe memorial along the river bank. It’s a moving site to see.
Take a stoll around the Jewish Quarter and make sure you check out the Bar Ruins.
If you are feeling brave, try the ‘Dracula’ cave walk. If you are afraid of the dark or claustrophobic this is probably best avoided.