When you step off the busy streets of Budapest into the Aria Hotel, you immediately drop your shoulders and relax in the music-themed setting. Not since Disney have I seen hotel theming carried out so extensively. The pathway from the front door through the center atrium looks like a piano keyboard and ends at the most unique grand piano you have ever seen.
The music doesn’t end in the lobby. Each wing of this 46-room hotel represents a different genre — classical, opera, jazz and contemporary. And each room has its own artist or composer, with a large caricature on the wall and appropriate music playing throughout the room and bathroom. Of course, if you don’t like that selection, the music director can suggest something else from the library of CDs and DVDs, which are available to borrow.
Located just steps away from the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral and within easy walking distance to all of Budapest’s main tourist attractions, the Aria is an elegant home base for exploring the interesting mix of Eastern European and Western influences that make Budapest so unique. The road in front is blocked off except for taxis, so even street-facing rooms have very little noise despite the central location.
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The city’s most popular attractions, including the Great Synagogue, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Parliament and Central Market on the Pest side, are all within a 15- to 20-minute walk. Stroll across the Chain Bridge (a 5- to 10-minute walk), and you can take the funicular up to Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. For a real thrill, take a Danube River Cruise at night to see the city lit up in all its splendor.
Aria Hotel Budapest opened in 2015 and has since earned the honor of being named the No. 1 hotel in the world by TripAdvisor for 2017. This converted bank building hosts some of the most stylish yet luxurious accommodations for families we’ve encountered. The musical theme is carried out in the music-note light fixtures, the books about classical composers by the bedside and the top-of-the-line sound system.
We stayed in an Aria Signature City View Room, which features a king bed plus a pullout sofa bed yet offers plenty of room to move around. As with many hotels, it is the little things that families will appreciate the most, like the daily restocked water in the fridge, the towel warmer in the bathroom and the his/hers and kids’ robes and slippers.
Large families are also welcomed at the Aria, with many room configuration options available. The Opera Suite features a pullout sofa and the Grand Luxury category offers two queen beds. For the ultimate in both space and luxury, the two-bedroom family suite spreads over 765 square feet and includes a balcony overlooking the Music Garden below.
In addition to the fabulous musical options, the Aria Hotel Budapest offers two special treats that are tucked out of view. Downstairs is the Harmony Spa and Wellness Center — there are only three treatment rooms, so you will want to book your service in advance. But guests who aren’t splurging can still enjoy the facilities, including a sauna, a steam room, a pool, a whirlpool and a fitness center. After walking around Budapest, it was very relaxing to curl up in one of the loungers or cabanas and wind down. Alas, it is for adults only (much to my tween’s dismay!).
The other onsite feature is the rooftop High Note Sky Bar and panoramic terrace. This is a nightlife hot spot, so if you want to take it in with kids, it’s best to go early (guests get priority seating). You can just pop up to the terrace to see St. Stephen’s up close.
TIP: Budapest is popular with young Europeans, so to avoid the party crowd, visit Monday through Thursday.
It is always a cost-saver when a hotel includes breakfast, and the Aria offers a generous buffet, including made-to-order eggs. Of course, relaxing with a local wine, cheese and crudité at the complimentary happy hour with live music, held in the light-filled central atrium, is the perfect way to relax after a day of touring.
The Aria also offers the cozy Satchmo Bar & Library Lounge and the fine-dining Stradivari restaurant. Even if you aren’t eating in-house, there are plenty of casual and upscale options just steps away (we highly recommend Tama). The concierge team at the Aria is absolutely fabulous about helping you book dinner reservations and private car transfers, as well as helping you plan your day. Every time we walked in, we were greeted warmly and catered to at the level you expect from the finest luxury hotels.
There is a reason that the Aria Hotel Budapest gets such rave reviews, and we are thrilled that this gem is also so accommodating to families. Budapest is a great choice for families with school-age children or teens who have already been to some of the major European capitals, and pairs well with Vienna and/or Prague.
Editor’s Note: Tamara was hosted by the Aria Hotel Budapest in order to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Tamara Gruber.
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