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Aria, Budapest, Hungary

author: Chloe Cann

The Aria Budapest is likely to divide opinion. It is loud and proud and couldn’t be further from the Hungary of yesteryear, a former satellite state of the USSR, which favoured brutalist buildings and practicality over frills and aesthetics. Looking around the city now, and staying at a grandiose hotel such as the Aria, it’s easy to forget that regime only crumbled in 1989. Now Budapest represents one of

Europe’s most up-and-coming city break hotspots, and the Aria is riding the crest of that wave. The newest member of the Library Hotel Collection, the Aria – an operatic term meaning a long, accompanied solo vocal performance – radiates decadence. From duck-egg blue chaise longues, to bedside Murano glass chandeliers, onyx stone-lined bathrooms and mirrored surfaces at almost every turn, with many of the furnishings bespoke. Formerly a bank, then becoming

apartments, the 19th-century building was left abandoned before it was bought and renovated into a neo-classical style; a project which

spanned some five years. The 48 rooms, four suites and one studio are divided among four wings: contemporary, jazz, opera and classical. Naturally, the opera wing is the most melodramatic, while the rooms in the classical wing are the most serene with a camel and aquamarine colour scheme. I was rather taken by some of the jazz rooms with their standalone baths and original, undulating, brick ceilings, though the contemporary rooms also feature a slick, subdued design. With each wing boasting such specific personalities it seems a shame guests cannot select their preference beforehand, though the reservations team try to meet guests’ preferences wherever they can. During my stay, most guests

were couples, though the hotel is ideal for families and groups – all rooms can be interconnected, plus there are large parlours which can be added onto one suite or can connect two suites together. All the suites, as well as the parlours, also offer sofa beds, which housekeeping are happy to extend every evening. The boutique hotel takes its theme seriously, with a litany of musical-themed features. Each room is named after a specific artist, and all feature books on the composers and artists; a custom- made caricature of the artist the room is named after; a Bowers and Wilkins speaker; an iPad and a


Good to know  Every afternoon from 4-6pm, the hotel hosts a complimentary cheese and wine reception. Aside from sampling Hungarian reds, whites and sparkling wines, guests can mingle and chat with friendly hotel staff.  The hotel has a multimedia library and musical director, Kornel Magyar, who makes recommendations, lends CDs and DVDs, and curates the music collection, which is accessible to all guests via in-room iPads that connect to flatscreen TVs and state-of-the-art audio systems.  Centrally located in sprawling Pest, the hotel is minutes from the Danube, the Hungarian State Opera House and great restaurants such as Mak Bistro.  The rooftop High Note SkyBar boasts panoramic views of the city from cabana-style seating and is open year-round.

docking station; soundproofed windows and walls; instrument- themed carpets; plus themed music in the lifts of every wing and a rare Boganyi piano in the atrium. Although there’s another Aria Hotel in Prague, this Aria wants to honour Hungary’s specific musical heritage – understandable in a city that houses the Hungarian State Opera House, the Palace of Arts and the Museum of Music History. The area where Aria doesn’t

lavish guests with quite so much decadence is at the breakfast table. The complimentary buffet breakfast will tide you over until lunch, with cereals and cold cuts and omelettes, though for a grand hotel it’s a restrained affair. But given the meat and carb-heavy menus on offer at so many of the city’s restaurants, it’s quite possibly the best way to start the day. The Aria may not have everybody singing from the rooftops, but for the right kind of client it will definitely strike all the right notes. Tel: 00 36 1445 4055,

How to book it Kirker offers three nights from £769pp with breakfast and includes flights with British Airways from Heathrow, private car transfers and services of the Kirker Concierge. Tel: 020 7593 2288,

Musical debut

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