It’s completely possible to be in love with cities you’ve never been to before and people you have yet to meet. It’s exactly how we felt as we flipped through countless photos of “The Pearl of the Danube,” the “Heart of Europe,” — the pristine city of Budapest. Widely framed as one of the most historic and intricately constructed cities in the world, Budapest’s charming cobble streets and grand medieval monuments put it at the top of our must-see travel list of 2017.
Traditional at its finest with a touch of new world flair, Budapest is a merger of all things new and old, but gorgeous just the same. We took the train straight off of a 36-hour tour in Vienna, Austria on non stop 3-hour venture into the Keleti railway station. Then it was about a 9 minute taxi ride to our final destination – Aria Hotel Budapest.
Budapest doesn’t offer Uber service, so a taxi was the only option. Because some taxi drivers are known to scam unsuspecting tourists, we negotiated a one-way price of 6,000 HUFs in cash (or $17 US dollars) with the driver before hopping in the car.
We arrived at the hotel which was situated in the heart of city center Budapest, steps from St. Stephen’s Basilica and a short walk to the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament.
Included in a family of luxury hotels owned and operated by the New York-based Library Hotel Collection and created by Hungarian designer Zoltán Varró, Aria Hotel Budapest opened its doors in July 2015. A historic haven of vibrant style and stunning sophistication, there’s more to Aria than meets the eye.
Divided into four wings – classical, opera, jazz, and contemporary – each pays homage to popular musical eras and musicians throughout the centuries. Accessed through a private, card-only elevator, every hallway features calming musical creations of artists from each genre.
Our “Signature King with Music Garden Balcony View” suite, located in the Contemporary Wing, was 425 sq feet of absolute luxury and tranquility. Featuring a love seat, a writing table, a marble bistro table with chairs facing an electric fireplace, and a 55-inch flatscreen TV, the star of the show was the balcony looking down into the glass encased Music Garden below – the first of its kind in Europe.
We ventured down to the main courtyard and followed the piano key tiles out of the elevator past the grand Bogányi piano. There, both guests and non-residents can enjoy cocktails and refreshments while listening to musical entertainment, pick a movie or soundtrack from the music library, or sit down for a meal at Stradervi Restaurant.
Every morning, guests of the Aria can enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast featuring Hungarian ham and sausages, a selection of Hungarian and international cheeses, fruits, fresh vegetables, and assorted hand made breads.
In the same location starting at 4-6pm, guests can also indulge in a complimentary afternoon wine and cheese reception accompanied with live music. Don’t feel like mixing and mingling? Guests are welcome to take their plates to the comfort of their own room (and still come back for seconds and thirds).
Up above our heads, the rooftop boasting the famous High Note Sky Bar seemed to be in perfect alignment with Budapest’s glowing sunset.
We were directed back to our private elevator, and were informed that the rooftop would be expecting us for rounds of drinks on the house crafted by some of the world’s leading mixologists. Little did we know we would be served while lounging on plush canopy day beds while overlooking St. Stephens Basilica.
The Aria rooftop allowed for a complete 360 view of Budapest for as far as the eye could see. Rolling hillsides in the distance, steeples from iconic monuments churches, and the busy streets below were all for the visual taking.
We waited until the sun went down and the city below lit up before we finished our cocktails and a decadent slice of “Sphere” (cheesecake) with assorted berries, edible flowers, and raspberry glacé.
After 48 hours of traveling across Central Europe, we decided to turn in to our suite for some much needed rest and to prepare for a busy day of sightseeing and restaurant hopping.
We returned to find our bedsheets turned down and topped with handmade chocolates, a bottle of chilled champagne on the marble nightstand, and the electric fireplace flickering in sync with the classical tunes softly playing in the background.
For travelers seeking to experience a lavish but laid back atmosphere inside a historic Hungarian palace without sacrificing the comfort of a private residence, the Aria Hotel Budapest is the perfect oasis in the heart of the city.
For reservations, and more information about the amenities and pricing for available suites, visit www.ariahotelbudapest.com or call internationally at +36-1-44-54-05-5.
Stay tuned for our “72 Hours in the Heart of Europe” blog post for more information about tourist hotspots, hidden gems, and the Budapest food scene.
To see our full Budapest adventure, check out our travel VLOG below: