It is a city with many names. It is sometimes referred to as the Paris of the East, Pearl of the Danube and the Heart of Europe. After my recent time spent in Budapest, I am not surprised why this city has so many extraordinary nicknames. With its elegant architecture, dreamy landscape, abundant culture and vibrant artistic scene, Budapest is a multifaceted city that offers a variety of unique sites.
I stayed in the one of the newest and luxurious Budapest options, the Aria Hotel Budapest which is the latest edition of the Library Hotel Collection. The Aria Budapest hotel is a five star design hotel that offers a travel experience that will make any traveller feel both at home and pampered. Their focus on a high level of guest service coupled with an intimate atmosphere is a superlative combination. Located in the city centre, beside the Saint Stephen Basilica on the Pest side of the Danube River, you can easily explore the city by foot and find yourself in the most historic and hip districts in mere moments. All of the major sights are at your fingertips.
The hotel’s theme blends a passion for music with the beautiful architecture that Budapest is known for, paying homage to some of the world’s greatest artists and composers. A former 19th century bank has been transformed into a limestone clad hotel that manages to create a distinctive modern vibe without compromising the historic originality of the site. The four wings, comprised of 49 guest rooms and suites, are themed by music genre: Classical, Opera, Contemporary and Jazz. Elements of each genre are incorporated via signature design, art and sound. These in turn, are among the high notes of the Aria Budapest Hotel. The Music Garden Courtyard with its tailed piano path and unique transparent glass enclosure make the lobby a striking design feature. The High Note Sky Bar is the roof top garden that offers not only a wide selection of cocktails but also unparallelled views of the city. The Harmony Spa should be your first stop after a long day touring the city. It is an excellent opportunity to pamper yourself with a Swedish sauna, a Turkish steam bath, infrared sauna, Jacuzzi and indoor pools creating a relaxation paradise. As if all of that is not enough, the final touch is personalized musical recommendations from their Music Library regarding music in Budapest according to your preferences.
Situated in the corner of Erzsébet Square, in a building that was a former bus depot, Design Terminal is an innovative agency and content platform that supports and incubates the creative industry and start-up scene in Budapest and Central Europe. The space hosts a wide range of activity from professional workshops, networking events, fashion and cultural shows and exhibitions. I would highly recommend their upcoming signature event, Brain Bar Budapest.
No visit to Budapest is complete unless you sample the sweet delights the city is famous for. After a long climb up Castle Hill, I treated myself with a Hungarian cake from the dessert mecca: Ruszwurm patisserie. Established in 1827 in the Buda Castle, the long-established sweet shop has been creating signature desserts and cakes ever since. I sampled the Dobos cake, a spongy creation layered with chocolate cream and coated with crunchy caramel. Totally worth the climb and the visit!
Nestled in the heart of the 7th district Ludovika is one of the best vintage shops in Budapest. Its beautiful and vast collection of selected women pieces, spans from the 60s to the more recent 90s. Spread over two tastefully decorated floor, this is the place to be if you are looking for a vintage haul.
A visit to the thermal baths in Budapest is the quintessential decadent experience. I took the opportunity to spend some time at the renowned Szechenyi Bath. The building is a stunning palace built in 1909 complete with 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor pools all availing of the natural hot spring water. This is the atmosphere to cap off your time in Budapest.
Built in the 19th century, the Central Market Hall is the largest indoor market in Budapest focused on typical Hungarian goods. The people moving among its stalls and vendors seemed a mix between locals buying fresh vegetables and Hungarian delicatessen and tourists buying souvenirs. It is definitely worth the visit, if only for the typical Hungarian street food: Langos, a deep-fried flat bread topped with sour cream and cheese.
Located in the Gozsdu district, a perfect neighborhood for bar hopping, is the iconic “bistro pub” Spiler. You can sit for hours and feast on high-quality street food, and wash it all down with excellent wines and a wide variety of local beer. On weekends DJs spin electronic grooves adding to the vibrant energy of Spiler.
As beautiful as Budapest is by day, it is even more stunning by night. Its iconic buildings along the banks of the Danube light up and reflect against the dark waters. In this moment the magic of Budapest is clear and you realize the city is truly peerless.