The Aria Hotel Budapest sits in a heritage area on the Pest side of the city that only select taxis and limousines can access. I have arranged with the hotel to have a car collect me from Keleti train station and the driver is waiting for me as I leave the station. Within 15 minutes we pull up at the hotel entrance, where I'm met by two footmen; one takes care of my bags, while the other guides me to the check-in counter. The paperwork is taken care of quickly and the service is friendly, not forced. I'm given a brief rundown of the hotel and taken up to my room.
Part of the Luxury Collection brand, this music-inspired hotel is in a great location with St Stephen's Basilica just down the street and the Houses of Parliament and the Chain Bridge a few minutes' walk further on. I love that there are plenty of cafes and restaurants within walking distance and in the late afternoon the streets are busy with locals and tourists, which, combined with the band that's playing in front of the Basilica, makes it all feels quite festive.
I'm staying in a 33-square-metre, jazz-themed, luxury king room with brilliant purple furnishings. It's got a good-sized bathroom with a tub, shower and speaker system. I've got my own balcony, and am not wanting for any of the mod-cons – electronic blinds, iPad and free Wi-Fi, it's got them all, and I've got access to the hotel's music library and music director if I need them. I struggle with the technology at times and the shower lacks pressure and is awkward to use.
The staff are helpful whenever I require them. Full marks go to the door staff who never miss a beat. At meal times I'm attended to quickly and attentively without it being over the top.
The Aria definitely lives up to his luxury boutique tag. It is beautifully decorated, the use of suede gives it a rich feel while the glass, mirrors, marble and music-inspired artworks provide a modern feel. The vibe is relaxed and comfortable, I particularly enjoy listening to the pianist who is playing the grand piano in the Music Garden on my first afternoon. But, it's the rooftop garden that's the standout for me, with its sweeping city views and sociable feel.
There are four options – the Music Garden, High Note SkyBar, Stradivari Restaurant and Satchmo's Bar and Restaurant. Breakfast is served in the Music Garden and nearby Stradivari Restaurant, there you'll find the usual selection of cereals, pastries, fruits and yogurts, meats and cheeses. Scrambled eggs, omelettes and homemade oatmeal are made to order, and fresh juice and coffee is on hand too. I opt for scrambled eggs with gluten-free toast, which is nice but nothing to rave about. At dinner time it's off to the High Note SkyBar where from the impressive menu I choose the Hungarian-style vichyssoise soup with sausage chips (€5 [Dh20]) and paprika-potato stew (€15 [Dh62]), I'd recommend both.
The view from the High Note SkyBar and the pool with its silhouette jazz musician decal in the Harmony Spa Wellness Centre.
The room's dodgy shower head and temperamental remote control.
A well-situated hotel within walking distance of the main attractions and the
The bottom line
Rooms at the Aria Hotel Budapest start from Dh1,144 per room per night for a minimum two-night stay and includes taxes, breakfast, Wi-Fi and afternoon cheese reception.