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Hungary

    Ladies of luxury – our long weekend at Hotel Moments Budapest Review

    Hotel Moments Budapest has to be one of my favourite hotels we have stayed in so far. Over the years we have slept in gilded Belgian luxury, wandered through iron balustraded Trompe-l’œil in Paris, watched from our window as ships sail along Arctic waters in Tromso, made friends with hairy Hampshire locals, revelled in a gloriously historic Bordeaux Chateau, watched the sunrise reflect over the Thames River, eaten picnics in sunny Southern French apartment gardens, ordered pizza from Edinburgh bunk beds, sipped wine in a Viennese spa as the sun set over the Danube and a few more besides.

    In short, we have slept in a fair number of hotel rooms over the years.

    Hotel Moments Budapest Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Hotel Moments Budapest Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were guests paying a media rate at the four-star Hotel Moments Budapest for our long weekend, but my (very many) thoughts are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn’t want to move-in, I mean, revisit for another break.

    What they all do have in common is being selected to suit our break. An anonymous spa hotel in Lille away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a swanky modern Barcelona escape near the beach and a taste of luxury close to our favourite Dublin watering hole.

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    Our favourite places to eat in Budapest

    Climbing the hills (top tip: avoid the furnicular, the hour long queue isn’t worth it), wandering through twisting lanes and floating in the thermal spas will definitely make you hungry in Hungary. (sorrynotsorry). In a similar vein to Berlin and Prague, I just assumed tables would be laden with dumpling studded hearty goulashes laced with paprika – perfect for winters of ice skating from one side of the Danube to the other – tankards of beer and stuffed cabbage leaves that comfort your heart somehow.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    So over our 3 day girl’s weekend in Budapest with very little planning on my part, and a fair amount more on Sam’s part (that went slightly awry on Sunday with may of the restaurants sadly closing too early) we enjoyed a real variety of ice cream places that we stumbled upon – a mixure of quirky buildings, delicious ingredients and fascinating stories.

    Breakfast
    We had brekkie in our hotel each morning, twice swanning down to the buffet spread served in their quirky restaurant (more on that later) and once taking advance of the complimentary room service. Yes we double coffeed unashamedly each day – you can’t take antipodeans anywhere!

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Coffee
    Much like the Viennese cake houses, Hungary has a rich history of writers and cafes which sparked our curiosity. Penniless writers would meet in the warm and inviting cafes, where they would put pen to paper, and often ‘paid’ for their meals with their thoughts. Sam had the gloriously ostentatious BookCafe on her hitlist where we stopped in for a quick slice of cake and many photographs. You walk into a perfectly High Street Book Shop, drift past the shelves full of books (resisting the urge to pick one up) and float up the escalator to this glory. Close to the Opera House – Andrássy út 39.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Hungarian coffee drinkers prefer sweet Kave to the ‘new wave’ style of Lattes and cappuccinos, but they are slowly changing their taste buds. So, slaves to the cause we also indulged in our adoration of the coffee bean at One Cup Espresso, snagging iced Lattes on our way to the most beautiful public library we’ve ever had the privilege of finding. As a refuel after a morning in the spa, it was quick, no fuss and glorious. Close to the Szabo Ervin Library – Baross ut 1.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Lunch
    One of the items on my wishlist was spending a few hours (sorry again Sam) with Andrea of Taste Hungary (as their media guests) as she took us on a mini-tour of some of the best places Budapest has. Whilst sadly I can’t share all of the fab places we visited on the Culinary Tour here, we left the tour absolutely stuffed. When they email telling you to come hungry, they really aren’t kidding.

    We knew we were in good hands immediately as conversation turned to up and coming coffees, and Andrea spoke about Nude and Caravan (obviously preaching to the converted) and we began by touring one of the historic cafes, trying the beautifully delicate Eszterházy cake, an Austrian family recipe layer cake, both gluten free and beautifully delicate.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We popped into the Sunday Szimpla Ruin Bar Farmers Market for a genuine feast of cheese, salamis, fresh strawberries and chilli candied pecans (not to mention nibbles along the way); and then stopped at a nearby streetfood market to share a traditional Lángos, a ridiculously moreish fried bread dough, often served with sour cream, garlic and cheese. Absolute heaven. They were originally made as snacks by busy bakers ripping off a handful of dough and knocking up a treat, but have been adopted as a perfect hangover cure. Unfortunately with the rise of modern bakeries, they aren’t seen as much any more.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Continuing our journey, Andrea shared a potted history of the local area peppered with her own memories growing up (hands down my favourite part of the tour) before taking us for a traditional lunch of meat, potato chips, lightly pickled vegetables (and watermelon!) and a massive glass of sparkling water.

    Feeling stuffed by this point already, she led us through streets lined with grandiose buildings before seating us in a (former Duke’s) cellar and taking us through a tasting of Hungary’s finest varietals, including the famous Tokaji from the North West of Hungary.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As we made our way to the finishing point, Andrea’s helpfulness in finding a Chemist open on a Sunday (blisters) only cemented just how lovely she was to us, both of our dietary requirements were looked after beautifully and her recommendations as we made our way through the city helped the rest of our city break. Seriously, if you’re going I would highly recommend putting Taste Hungary on your ‘to do’ list. Right at the top.

    Ice Cream

    Overlooking the hill behind Fisherman’s Bastion we discovered a tiny, open-air bar complete with ice cream stand. Having walked for a good 4 hours by this point we seized on the opportunity to rest our feet, try some Hungarian ice cream (sour cherry for the win!) and sip a cooling sparkling apple mocktail as the sun hung in the sky. Close to Fisherman’s Bastion – er, not sure what it was called. Just wander.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Levendula Kezmuves Fagylaltozo, known as the Lavender Ice Cream franchise was recommended to us as one of the best in Budapest, and usually having queues down the street waiting for their quirky flavours to hit the waffle cones, we knew we were onto a winner. Various locations.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Again, having done a proper bit of research, Sam had fallen for the charms of Gelato Rosa before we had even landed, and I’m so glad she had. Rolling up for a dessert later in the evening, the beautifully sculpted concoction in my hand of Strawberry sorbet, dark chocolate ice cream and creme brulee was a highlight of the trip – running out of camera battery was less so. Various Locations.

     

    Drinks
    The skies were clear for our whole visit and the temperatures hovered around 30°C which was the perfect excuse for trying several glasses of the local wine. As we pottered/instagrammed/snapchatted our way around Fisherman’s Bastion, we decided that taking in the glorious views from the ‘Panorama Cafe’ was too irresistible. Ground Level of the Fisherman’s Bastion.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We nipped into the Art Deco glory that is the Four Seasons Hotel, and sipped refreshing cocktails/mocktails tucked away in the wings of the opulent foyer. Pest Bank of the Chain Bridge – Gresham Palace,

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Dinner 
    I can’t decide which of our dinners were my absolute favourite. We ate one in the Szimpla Ruin Bar, a kaleidoscope of amazing rooms, partying friends and home to a bevy of food stalls. I went for a bacon sandwich, grilled over a flame and ridiculously good, whilst Sam was far better behaved. Szimpla Kert –

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our last dinner we spent watching the sunset over Budapest, drinking fruity mocktails and laughing at our Faulty Towers-esque Waiter in the top floor restaurant at the Aria Hotel. Despite his surliness, our meal was lovely and to see the city light up almost at our feet was magical. Close to the Basilica – Hercegprímás 5, 1051.

    Where to eat and drink Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Verdict: Take me back right now!

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    Where to eat and drink in Budapest Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    10 reasons you should go on a luxurious girls weekend to Budapest

    I’ve wanted to visit Budapest for years. (I even have blog proof here in my 2015 and 2016 travel wishlist posts) but it wasn’t until the mutter of a boys weekend reached my ears, freeing me to sneak away for an indulgent girly weekend with the lovely Sam (of Globetrotter Postcards fame). We met for brunch, as all good plans should begin, and within a couple hours of Google image searching and flight comparisons, we cut our wishlist down from about 18 cities to two serious contenders, and hearts over heads we went Budapest for the win.

    10 reasons you should go on a luxurious girls weekend to Budapest

    Straddling the Danube, the towns of Buda, Pest and Óbuda merged in the Nineteenth Century to form the capital city of Hungary. With over a thousand years of history separately, the cities coped through much turmoil, and the Magyar people emerged with a lightness of spirit that echoes through the streets. Now often known for the litany of stag parties, as the Paris of East or the Pearl of the Danube, Budapest is a city that we fell in love with. At one point I think I even grandly declared it my favourite city break ever – you can simply spa and sup, or get all culture vulture, or mixture of everything thing you love the best.

    We wandered as far as we could over almost 3 days (managing to clock up 12 hours of walking one day and 6 hours of nibbling the next). It was one of the least planned breaks on my behalf (bar some serious Pinterest and Instragram stalking) but with Sam’s meticulous notes, leaning on technology and just following our noses, we saw more than we could share in a month of Sundays and whetted our appetites for a longer revisit. We can conclusively say Budapest is not a one day city.

     

    10 reasons luxurious girls spa weekend to Budapest Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 reasons luxurious girls spa weekend to Budapest Adventures of a London Kiwi

    On our seriously luxurious girls weekend (more to follow I promise) some of our favorite spots and things to do were…

    1 ¦ Spas
    Sitting on a patchwork of 125 hot springs, visting the nearly 50 natural thermal baths is often prescribed by the city doctors for helping a litany of ailments. Honestly, we could almost start and finish this list right here. Sadly we only had time to visit the infamous Szechenyi Baths, but a morning spent floating in the healing waters was essential for our weary London souls (and tired soles for that matter).

    Szechenyi Baths 10 reasons luxury city break Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Szechenyi Baths 10 reasons luxury city break Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    2 ¦ The sunsets are pretty ok, I guess

    Danube sunset 10 reasons luxury city break Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    3 ¦ Fisherman’s Bastion  
    Full of tourists taking selfies and glorious buildings, Fisherman’s Bastion is another ‘tourist must do’, but look. Just look. Perched on the historic Buda hill, Fisherman’s Bastion overlooks the funkier, more modern Pest and appears to be a Disney castle on steroids. Named after yesteryears when the fishermen protected this area, something
    they were told to do in case the Mongolian army would return again (as
    they first did in 1240-1241).

    10 reasons luxury city break Fisherman's Bastion Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    4 ¦ Eat sour cherry ice cream
    Every corner seems to have a serving case full of dairy delights, overseen by a scoop wielding ice cream maiden. Full of an incredible array of flavours from classical chocolate and vanilla, to olive and lavender we simply let ourselves indulge. Calories don’t count in foreign countries, right?

    10 reasons luxury city break Ice Cream Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    5 ¦ Hungarian humour
    Just these. Ampelmann eat your heart out.

    10 reasons luxury city break Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    6 ¦ Even the roof tiles are breathtaking
    Yes, we have now recommended booking a 2 or so hour flight on the basis of pretty roof tiles. It simply doesn’t get any more rock and roll than that.

    10 reasons luxury city break St Matthias Church Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    7 ¦ Watching the Buda and Pest simultaneously light up on a sunset cruise
    During the day the UNESCO protected Danube shores are beautiful on their own merits, but seeing them light up as the sun sets made my weekend. Both of us just sat quietly (on the top deck of the boat which we booked on spec) and took in the changing landscape.

    10 reasons luxury city break Sunset Danube Cruise Budapest Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    8 ¦ Climbing the steep Buda streets to look back over Pest
    So good it makes the list twice.

    10 reasons luxury city break Sunset Budapest Parliament Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    9 ¦ Ruin bars
    Everyone says you have to visit one, and it’s for a good reason. We wandered the seemingly labyrinthine streets one evening, and just before we gave up hope, we wandered through the bar district to find one of the craziest, coolest places ever. Trotting into Szimpla both in the evening and the following morning, our eyes just couldn’t stop. Originally meant to be temporary bars in dilapidated buildings whilst the owners tried to sell them, ruin bars have become an entire glorious sub-section of the entertainment scene.

    Szimpla Ruin Bar 10 reasons luxury city break Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Szimpla Ruin Bar 10 reasons luxury city break Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 ¦ Perfect for every budget
    With Michelin starred restaurants, quirky boutique hotels, a fairly weak currency (all notes fronted with stern looking blokes), kebab shops for *those* moments, a love of good bars, music everywhere and of course the beautiful thermal baths for every kind of pocket, what isn’t to love?

    Four Seasons Hotel 10 reasons luxury city break Hungary Adventures of a London Kiwi

    How does a particular destination lure you to their distant shores? Is it history, personal recommendations, budget, instagram or simply curiosity?

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