Aria Hotel Budapest was a fun place to stay. A whimsical keyboard flows across the lobby floor to a real-life grand piano, a cue to the music theme that subtly permeates this 48-room boutique hotel.

The hotel’s four wings–Classical, Opera, Contemporary, and Jazz—are built around the Music Garden, a glass-roofed, central courtyard where guests mingle and relax throughout the day. Each room and suite is decorated to celebrate a different music legend, from Bob Dylan and Ella Fitzgerald to Hungary’s own Franz Liszt and Béla Bartók. I loved the Elvis Presley room, where a fanciful caricature of “The King of Rock & Roll” dances over the bed.


There’s also a music library and an official music concierge, Kornél Magyar, who can provide customized playlists. He told me he has arranged for musical surprises such as a violinist standing on the glass courtyard roof performing below a couple’s balcony to celebrate an anniversary or a proposal. A professional musician himself, Magyar knows the Budapest music scene, from the city’s almost daily church organ concerts to the clubs where the best gypsy and jazz musicians jam.

Music, of course, is only one reason to stay here. The hotel is across from St. Stephen’s Basilica in a historic, pedestrian zone filled with great restaurants, cafes and clubs and it was wonderful being able to walk to almost everything I wanted to see.

The hotel hit the right notes in terms of luxury and service, from chocolates at turndown to Molton Brown amenities for the sleek bathroom and the staff was consistently thoughtful and on point. The doorman even offered me an umbrella one day, because he said there was rain in the forecast

Aria also includes many extras other hotels charge for, including a generous breakfast, a la carte or buffet, the fastest Wi-Fi, use of the spa and gym, an in-room iPad, and a Handy smartphone for use around the city. I also enjoyed the complimentary wine and cheese, served from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, accompanied by live piano music.

Before turning in, it was lovely to return to my hotel room, put on my plush robe and take the elevator to the Harmony Spa to unwind with a few laps in the heated pool and relax in the whirlpool. Cabana-style chaise lounges, creative lighting, and a jazzy mural give the subterranean pool area a romantic, tropical feel. There’s also a steam bath and saunas, plus spa treatments with, of course, a choice of musical playlists.

Aria Hotel SpaAria Hotel Yoga

In many ways, Aria Hotel Budapest is a destination in its own right. Its spa, bars, and restaurants draw locals as well as hotel guests. My favorite was the High Note SkyBar and Rooftop Garden, where comfy couches (best reserved in advance) afford panoramic views and the cupola of St. Stephen’s Basilica feels close enough to touch. It was also fun to sit at Satchmo’s Library and see the signatures of Will Smith, Placido Domingo and other celebrity guests etched into the mirrors.

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Five Tips
  • Musician-themed rooms, a music concierge, and live music set a romantic tone
  • Complimentary breakfast and afternoon wine & cheese in a stylish, relaxed setting
  • Central location beside St. Stephen’s Basilica, a short walk from the Chain Bridge
  • Rooftop bar that is popular with locals and guests, fine-dining restaurant, casual eatery, and cozy library and bar
  • Complimentary fast Wi-Fi in hotel and use of smartphone with free internet access around the city


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