Straddling the wide river Danube, which separates hilly Buda from level Pest, the Hungarian capital today offers one of the most striking metropolitan panoramas in Europe. Long hidden behind the Iron Curtain, in recent years Budapest has rightfully regained its reputation as one of the most vibrant capitals of central Europe, not least for its ability to both embrace and champion the past, present and future. Indeed, old frequently meets new during Budapest’s renowned “spa parties”, held in the city’s famed thermal baths. Meanwhile fine cuisine, buzzing cafés, happening nightlife, rich heritage and striking turn-of-the-century buildings juxtaposed with contemporary modern-day architecture fill the city from corner to corner. But, most of all, Budapest is a metropolis of music. From the classics of Bartók and Kodály to the contemporary fusion of folk, klezmer, jazz and gypsy sounds, the Hungarian capital is positively alive with the sound of music.
Opened in 2015 in the footsteps of its sister property in Prague, the 49-room Aria Hotel is quite literally a music-themed property. Whether you’re a music fanatic or simply a connoisseur of boutique city centre hotels, staying at Aria Hotel is one of the funkiest places to rest your head in the Hungarian capital, and its unbeatable location will put you within easy walking distance of the opera house, parliament building and Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Housed within a neoclassical former bank which dates back to the 1880s (note the original spiral staircase), and the brainchild of Henry Kallan, president of New York-based Library Hotel Collection, highlights include quite possibly one of the coolest rooftop bars in the city, boasting killer views of the domes of St. Stephen’s Basilica, pictured. There are also an enticing subterranean spa and swimming pool, and a soaring garden courtyard cum lobby, of which the centrepiece is a space-age piano, designed by the famed Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi and one of only two such instruments in the world.
Bedrooms are spacious, modern, elegant, relatively unfussy and split into four wings, each representing a different musical genre. Cream and blue dominate the lodgings in the classical wing, whilst contemporary rooms are much bolder and brighter. All sport lots of marble and are enlivened by striking ornaments. Our favourite is the 66m² Romeo & Juliet suite, with a king bedded room, separate lounge and access to a spacious semi-private balcony overlooking the charming cobblestone street the hotel is situated on.