Great for: lovers of quirky, boutique design hotels.
What is it? Boutique hotel
Will set you back: From 222 Euros p/n
If you arrive at the Aria Hotel Budapest by taxi, your stay at this six-month-old boutique hotel will immediately get off to a luxurious start. The hotel is located on a pedestrian heritage street in the city centre, District 5, with a boom gate at its entrance that only allows certain vehicles to enter – vehicles such as the one you are arriving in. It is a very pretty street with an upmarket feel, and the entrance and lobby of Aria do nothing but heighten the feeling of exclusivity. The hotel’s gold-adorned glass doors open up to an elegant and lavish interior characterised by tiled flooring made to look like piano keys, that with pull your gaze from the entrance down the full length of the lobby, aka the ‘Music Garden’. You are, after all, in the only music-themed hotel in Budapest!
If you’re a music lover, or just a fan of quirky, boutique designer hotels, then the Aria Hotel Budapest may just be your cup of tea. The music-themed accommodation consists of a different genre of music for each wing, from jazz to contemporary, opera to classical. Each room type has a completely different feel and vastly unique style. We stayed in a Jazz Signature Room where the palette consisted of acid green, black and white and warm tan. The room was large if a little cluttered by furniture, and the layout was particularly original. The bathtub sat outside of the bathroom near the bed, while the bathroom vanity was also in the bedroom, next to the bathroom itself. There were quirky, contemporary artworks in the room and an unusual mix of texture from the velvet-feel of the chaise longue, to the corrugated, faux-tiled roof. After an extensive tour of all the room styles available at Aria, I determined that the Opera and Classical rooms have an evident feminine style, while the Contemporary and Jazz room styles are more masculine in their use of fabrics and colours. All room types will appear to the ladies, but gents, my recommendation would be the Contemporary Luxury ‘Elvis’ Room with its simple and effective palette. The design is very fun throughout the whole hotel, if a little on the kitsch side at times due to colour and fabric choices.
What I did love was the lobby of the Aria, called the ‘Music Garden’. Completely grand and elegant, any discerning traveller would enjoy relaxing in this room with a glass of wine. You also won’t be able to get past the absolutely stunning design of the hotel building itself. To get Aria to how it looks now, the building itself underwent a dramatic overhaul and took years to complete. One of its highlights is this unique design which consists of four wings overlooking a central courtyard (now the Music Garden), protected by very expensive-looking glass. The view is beautiful looking up from the Garden or down from your room’s balcony, and the architectural design is unique for a hotel.
We found our Signature Jazz room mostly comfortable, save for a few teething problems that presented themselves fairly quickly after check-in. We loved the oversized TV in the room, although it was a little complicated and temperamental. The bed was comfortable however we found the pillows to be a disappointment and despite the offering of a pillow menu, the substitute offered was not substantial. We had a problem with the bathtub drain in our room, which meant we had an awful smell in our room until maintenance quickly fixed it. Many of the rooms have balconies that look out over the Music Garden, and this makes for a great spot to relax at the end of the day, with the sun setting above you over the High Note skybar.
Aria has an extensive film catalogue uploaded into each room’s TV for free use by guests, which we thought was a generous and convenient addition, and we wish more hotels took this idea up. There are also plenty of books for guests to read in each room, that generally correlate to the music genre of the room. We loved that Aria does not forget the simple things, such as the coffee capsule machine, and a plate of fruit waiting for you in the room on arrival.
By contrast, Aria really gets the amenities right and the management have put a lot of thought into ways to make the guest experience special. One of the highlights is their wine and cheese hour, every day between 4 and 6pm, when a beautiful selection of cheeses and antipasto as well as free-pour wine is offered to guests in the lobby, free of charge. The lobby also has a theatre room where films are screened regularaly for guests, and a music room where Aria’s Music Director resides, in charge of all the melodies and beats the guests will hear throughout the hotel. The hotel frequently puts on live music in the Music Garden as well, which creates gorgeous ambience and makes the space feel even more special. Aria Hotel Budapest has has an excellent spa and indoor pool, a gym, a regular sauna, an infrared sauna (a rare treat), as well as a steam room. The design of the spa rooms is particularly impressive, and with the Harmony Spa itself positioned below-ground, the mood is ambient and relaxing thanks to the low-lighting.
The indoor pool is really unique and features a fantastic tiled scene of a jazz band on the wall. Surrounding the pool is a jacuzzi and lots of loungers, which, although seems unusual for an indoor, underground pool, actually makes a strong visual impact, making the area highly memorable. The only downfall to the Harmony Spa is if you aren’t staying in the same wing (there are four separate wings at the hotel), you have to walk across the main Music Garden to get to it, which means you can’t walk around in your robe and slippers – especially if it’s during the wine and cheese hour!
I felt that although the service was good at Aria, there is much that can be improved in this area of the hotel. There were quite a few instances that were under-expectation during our short stay, and this hindered my overall impression of the staff. When I asked if housekeeping had any latex pillows they could send up, the front desk didn’t know what a latex pillow was, and despite saying they would call me back and let me know, they never did and instead just sent up one single pillow that was identical to the one already on the bed – the staff seemed confused by the request. In another instance, while using the sauna to unwind and relax at the end of the day, the experience was unfortunately ruined by a loud and raucous family using the pool like an outdoor recreational pool, playing watersports and completely taking over the spa. The staff at the spa were not phased by this and unfortunately did not put a stop to it despite the fact that Harmony spa is purpose-built just for that – harmony.
I felt that many of the problems with the staff were due to a lack of listening to the guest’s requests and if this area was sharpened, the service would be a lot better. Overall, however, the staff were friendly and warm, if seemingly a little unsure as to how to fulfill a personalised luxury hotel experience.
Breakfast at Aria is served in the beautiful Music Garden, and is particularly good. There is a great a-la-carte menu in addition to a petite but high-quality buffet consisting of fruit, muesli varieties including bircher, pastries, cheese, salads, cold cuts and juices. The hotel has a lovely, intimate main bistro-style restaurant called Stradivari, which serves delicious, paddock to plate dishes in a casual yet elegant environment. I enjoyed a wonderful three-course lunch here and highly recommend it. The restaurant is also responsible for the in-room dining, and as far as room service goes the standard is very high at Aria, with the same quality you would receive in the restaurant, arriving at your room.
In addition the the main restaurant, there is also Satchmo’s bar and Satchmo’s lounge, where casual lunch, dinner and drinks are served inside or on the outdoor terrace. As for dramatic effect, you can’t go past the High Note Skybar on the rooftop. The rooftop offers 360-degree views of the city across two levels, has a closed-off section for those chilly days and is open year-round. The view from the top is magnificent and a must when you visit Budapest.
The Aria Hotel is situated on a gorgeous, partly pedestrianised street which functions as the new main street of District V in the inner city of Pest. Surrounding the hotel are lots of terraced cafes and restaurants, as well as the beautiful St. Stephen's Basilica. The famous pedestrian shopping area, Váci Street also cuts through District V, with the Great Market Hall at one end, and Vörösmarty tér (the large public square) on the other end. Only a ten minute walk from the hotel is the Danube Promenade, with its spectacular outlook across the river to the Castle District. This part of the city is in its element in the evening and is absolutely spectacular when all lit up. There are dozens of great restaurants on the walk, in close proximity to the hotel.
luxurious yet fun hotel with lots of guest perks