(And it won't break the bank)
Let me get one thing straight here, I’m not even talking about partner love but rather just love, in general. Whether it’s architecture, swimming, culture, food or, albeit, drinking, that makes your heart sing, there’s something for everyone.
Budapest is basically becoming the new Berlin. It’s cheap, it’s cultured and it’s deliciously laid-back – yet achingly chic. Head to the Jewish quarter for a booming art scene, the ruin bars to sample some of that seriously underrated Hungarian wine or treat yo’self at one of the capital’s many thermal spas.
Brody House, of course! Often quoted as the coolest place to stay in the city, this boutique hotel in the palace quarter has a helluva lot to offer – and even more now they’ve got five venues scattered around the city. Housed inside a neo-classical heritage building that used to be the annex to the Hungarian Parliament (before the building relocated in 1896), it’s been the sanctuary of many a writer, musician and producer in its time – as well as Hungarian prime minister Miklos Kallay.
It’s worth saying though, that this hotel is anything but traditional. Moonlighting as a private members’ club in Budapest, Brody House marks a new beginning for the city which was not allowed such institutions under Soviet rule and communism. Now, it’s a haven for the rich, the famous and those filled with wanderlust (or a love of booze, beds and banter, as is Brody House’s tagline.)
Considering the entire hotel is named after Hungarian writer Sandor Brody, it’s no surprise that each room is completely culturally unique and named after one of the worldwide artists it’s based on. I personally had the pleasure of staying in Etienne, a huge bedroom with a wooden chair as a light fixture and stunning soft, natural light. But, for shorter visits, and the more mobile of us, consider staying in their cosy mezzanine room Eszter’s Nest, which goes for around 80 euros a night and is a charming little space perfect for snuggling lovers. Oh, and if you like the art on your walls, you can ask to buy them. (We told you it was arty here in Hungary.)
Situated in the Pest side of town, it’s a handy 20-30 minute cab ride from the airport, Brody House literally overlooks the Hungarian National Museum. A short stroll away, you’ve got the Jewish quarter which is chock full of restaurants and bars, including the famous Szimpla Kert ruin bar (which translates to simple garden) where you can grab some pálinka (Hungarian fruit brandy). And, end up at Kőleves Vendéglő for some local cuisine.
For a pre-dinner aperitif or end of the day nightcap, head to the house’s honesty bar for a glass of rosé (or two) and enjoy a game of Scrabble or chess to really feel like you’re at home.
Although not at all pretentious, the grandness of the house will make you want to pair your finest dresses with your simplest of shoes. The city is all cobblestoned and distinctly continental so heels aren’t a must but I’d say a smart-casual dress code will have you covered.
Just a short walk away over the Liberty Bridge, you’ll find Gellert Spa and Bath, which is slightly smaller than the notorious Széchenyi Thermal Bath, seeing as it only has a wave pool actually outside, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty and tradition – plus, it’s perfect no matter what weather you’re visiting in.
While you’re there…
Grab yourself a Budapest Pass and earn some bragging points by going on an off-the-beaten path adventure. Start by finding the slightly-hidden tram number 60, which is the cogwheel railway that first opened in 1874, and having it take you to the children’s railway – which yes, is run by little ones. The Children’s Railway is now rooted in Hungarian tradition, giving 10-14 year-olds a chance to learn how to work in a team by helping the trains up to Buda Hills operate smoothly. The mini conductors, ticket officers and inspectors are guaranteed to warm the coldest of hearts. And, make sure you get the chairlift back down for unprecendented panoramic views.
Wizz air operates several daily flights from Luton to Budapest, with one-way fares starting from £34.99. Brody House rooms start at 80EUR. Breakfast is currently charged at 10EUR per person but from 1 Oct will be included in the room charge.
OK now, really, what are you waiting for? To Buda! And Pest!