On a recent trip to Budapest, I found myself discovering magic with every step along the cobbled streets. It wasn’t just the stunning architecture of the Hungarian palaces or the bustling, revived culinary scene that captivated me most. It was the way magic permeates every moment in the way the city seamlessly intertwines the past and the future and how new sights and sounds touch historic familiarities. Beside St. Stephen’s Basilica sits the new luxury boutique Aria Hotel Budapest, where fresh and new coalesces with timelessness.
Transformed from a former nineteenth century bank building, Aria is an intimate, architecturally stunning hotel amidst Hungary’s cultural hub and sites like the Chain Bridge and Andrassy Avenue. I came through the doors expecting traditional luxury, and what I found was much more engaging and personalized. As Budapest’s first musically-themed hotel, it lives up to being a music lover’s dream. Within steps, I’m welcomed by a marble tiled piano walkaway, and taken aback by the open-air balconies overlooking the glass-enclosed Music Garden Courtyard. This roof is a seamless, all-glass enclosure reminiscent of the Fifth Avenue Apple Store and is the only of its kind in Europe.
The celebration of music continues throughout the hotel and into the guestrooms, with each of Aria’s four wings dedicated to one of four music genres: Classical, Opera, Contemporary and Jazz music. Every inch of this vibrant hotel is designed by master interior designer Zoltan Varro, whose designs transcend reality. Upon entering my jazz-themed guestroom, I was greeted by Louis Armstrong, stylistically imprinted on a standalone mirror created by caricature artist Joseph Blecha. The locket-style mirror can be replaced by any music legend a guest desires, and is tailored to specific music legends from Elvis to Maria Callas to Hungarian Composer Franz Liszt, who is actually immortalized in his own studio suite. I found the in-room iPad (each guestroom is bestowed one) and started unpacking while listening to Louis’ “Hello Dolly” from the hotel’s music library collection. The best part? I could sing at the top of my lungs and not worry about a thing because each guestroom has a high level of soundproofing to encourage the enjoyment of music.
At the top of the hotel, at the end of a beautiful spiral staircase is High Note Sky Bar, Budapest’s only year-round rooftop garden terrace. The breathtaking views were so within reach that it beckoned me down to discover the city. Being unfamiliar with the area, I knew I’d rely on the wisdom and intel of the hotel’s concierge. To my pleasant surprise, I consequently met with the hotel’s Musical Director, Kornel. He brings a unique perspective in a concierge role that generates excitement amongst guests, and connects them to the rich musical heritage and culture of Budapest. Not only does he curate Aria Hotel Budapest’s bountiful music library collection, but he personally helped me map out my experiences at neighboring music venues like Budapest’s Opera House and a few must-see hidden gems. In addition to its extraordinary accommodations and amenities, I marvel at Aria Hotel Budapest’s impeccable attention to detail and remarkable service – one of the many reasons, I’m sure, leisure and luxury travelers and celebrities constantly find themselves loyal to Library Hotel Collection experiences.
Before stepping out for the evening, I enjoyed the hotel’s complimentary Hungarian wine tasting with a pleasant selection of hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, fruits, and crudités in the courtyard. Already familiarized with the Library Hotel Collection’s complimentary offerings, it was a nice to see this make it across the Atlantic. Additional daily amenities include selections of black, green and herbal teas or coffee throughout the day, a delicious buffet breakfast, bottled spring water, access to the hotel’s multimedia library, a selection of international newspapers, and turndown service with fine chocolates.
Close to the hotel is a charming pedestrian plaza, where I ventured to window shop beyond the historic city center and found a bustling restaurant scene, cafes and musical entertainment. I was moved by how quickly Budapest is becoming Europe’s new culinary destination. There are gourmet and Michelin-starred restaurants peppered throughout the city and humble specialty food trucks tucked in street corners. It only took 10 minutes to arrive at Chain Bridge, and I ogled at the tree-lined avenues before watching the sunset over the city skyline of palaces and buildings, old and new.
Budapest is affectionately known as the "City of Spas." After a full day of walking, it was time to rejuvenate. The hotel’s Harmony Spa offers seclusion and tranquility in a luxurious setting. I couldn’t wait to relax with the healing power of Hungarian Széchenyi thermal mineral water (known for its healing anti-inflammatory properties) as well as Hungarian wine and grape seed extracts (known for their anti-aging, antioxidant properties.) En route to my treatment, I noticed the gorgeous Turkish Steam “Hammam” bath, Swedish sauna, and Jacuzzi all lavishly set to a fabulous mural of musical silhouettes on the wall adjacent to the inviting pool setting.
Access to these and the fitness center are complimentary for Aria guests seeking relaxation and quiet in the midst of the Budapest urban landscape. The abundance of complimentary comforts and exceptional service truly made me feel connected to the hotel. I now feel like I can come home to Aria whenever I am in Budapest, and I’m craving more of the Library Hotel Collection experience. It’s exciting to hear that LHC’s hotelier Henry Kallan has teamed up with American business mogul Alexander Rovt to open Hotel X Toronto in Canada next year, and more hotels properties around the world. From top to bottom (literally), Aria Hotel Budapest exceeded expectations and spoke to the music lover within me.
For more information, please visit www.ariahotelbudapest.com. Reservations can be made by calling +36 14454055.