Bébé Voyage Rating: 9/10
The Aria Hotel is a 5-star gem in historic, downtown Budapest. Is it a place for kids? Certainly. We don’t normally think of taking our kids to a finely polished 5-star hotel but the Aria welcomed our family with open arms. They went out of their way to accommodate our family’s needs and we never felt like we were too noisy or in the way. The little touches make this property unique, giving it a 9/10 rating for family travel.
Aria is located on the Pest side of the Danube in the historic city center of Budapest. Its location is absolutely perfectly situated between blockbuster sights, public transport and green space. Within one city block, you’ll find St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Erzsebet Teri Park and the super handy Deak Ferenc Square transport hub. Within the Erzsebet Teri Park, you’ll find a market, restaurants, a playground and a Ferris Wheel. Two blocks west, you’ll find the Hild Teri Jatszoter Park, home to another playground. From Deak Ferenc, you can reach any point in the city via metro, tram or bus. Adjacent to Deak Ferenc, you’ll find the Városháza Park, currently home to a ‘pop-up’ park which our kids loved running around on. We cannot think of a more central location for a hotel in Budapest. Pop up to the rooftop to take in the amazing view of the city from this prime location.
Style & Character
The Aria’s charm is evident from the moment you enter. The check-in desk is small and purposely positioned off to one side so the view of the atrium catches your eyes immediately. The Aria’s angle is towards music lovers. A floor inlay resembling the keys of a piano leads you from the entrance into the atrium where you’re greeted by a majestic piano set underneath a tall video screen which shows tasteful imagery based on the time of day.
The atrium hosts the daily wine reception (16:00-18:00) and morning breakfast. I felt like I could stay in the atrium all day long. Small musical touches exist throughout the hotel. Each room is named for a famous musician and the hotel boasts a massive music collection. You can access the library through your television (digital offerings) or by visiting the concierge (CDs and DVDs). The Aria felt fancy but also warm and welcoming.
Services & Facilities
For a hotel with fewer than 50 rooms, there were ample amenities. What you’ll notice first is that the staff is willing to help you feel comfortable. They answered all of our questions and pointed us to the concierge for our day-trip planning. We caught the concierge off-guard a bit since our travel planning is a bit more local feeling than tourist feeling. She didn’t skip a beat and helped me piece together a public park and scenic railroad adventure. I think most Aria guests stick to the tourist areas!
Once you’re in your room, you’ll find a service menu. This includes a list of helpful items you may request from the hotel. We requested a child’s pillow and a sleep mask with speakers, just to try out.
Within the room, you’ll find a Nespresso coffee maker and a range of amenities you’d expect in a 5-star property: robes and slippers, fine bath products and the most luxurious bedding I have ever felt.
Other hotel amenities included:
- Complimentary Breakfast Each Morning
- Complimentary Afternoon Wine & Cheese
- Free High-Speed Wireless Internet
- Stunning Year-Round Roof Garden with 360˚ views
- Pool, Spa, Fitness Center, Steam Bath, Sauna and Whirlpool
- In-Room iPad and Handy Pocket Device
- iPhone/Android Docking Station
- Music Director and Screening Room
We spent some time in the hotel’s Harmony Spa. It was peaceful with low lighting and no other guests. The sauna and whirlpool were a much needed respite from a busy day. We did not sample any of the spa services, but the spa menu was quite extensive.
The hotel’s High Note Skybar looked amazing, with 360 degree views over Budapest. To the north (just next door), St. Stephen’s Basilica is beautiful. It looks a bit like the Aria has the only rooftop lounge in the city – and it sounded that way too when we asked. The rooftop has five areas, but suffice to say it’s got the best views in town. You can host events on the roof, sunbathe, order cocktails or enjoy a magnificent meal. It’s open year-round. In the morning, we even caught a glimpse of a yoga class being held up there.
Each room has both an iPad and an iPhone-like device called a Handy. It’s for walking around the city but you can also make free phone calls with it. Upon check-out, the Handy in your room automatically deletes any stored information so you don’t have to feel like the next guest would know who you dialed. The iPad holds all the info about your room, like an automated butler. The iPad will help you dim the lights in your room or make suggestions for nearby dinner locations.
We didn’t find the Handy very useful, since it didn’t have easy-to-use walking maps or sightseeing information. We tried to use the Handy but felt that its execution just wasn’t right for us. With some updated apps this could be a really useful tool in exploring the city. (Since we live in Europe our phones worked just fine, but for an overseas visitor the calling function may be just ‘handy’ enough.)
Aria’s rooms are fantastic. They are divided into wings in this hotel, with each as stunning as the last. Our room boasted a king bed with plenty of floor space for us to request a baby bed. We brought our own baby bed and the housekeeping staff was happy to bring us extra pillows and linen.
Our room looked out onto the street below from the most beautiful balcony. On the balcony were two sitting chairs, a small table and a lounging chair made for two (even two adults and our three littles). We thoroughly enjoyed looking out at the city lights from the balcony after our kids fell to sleep. It was a chilly night in Budapest in October but the warmth of our joy kept us happy.
The bathroom was equipped with a fantastic soaking tub and separate glass-enclosed shower. The bath products were spa-quality (they smelled amazing) and we found everything we needed (shaving mirror, hair dryer, etc).
The hotel also had tons of built in storage. We were able to neatly tuck away and access all our bags, something that really helps us keep the room clean and usable by the whole family.
Food & Drink
The included hotel breakfast was extraordinary. There was a buffet that included a fine selection of yogurt, nuts, fruit, cereals, meats and cheeses. There was also an open kitchen with chefs willing to prepare nearly anything you wanted. Our children loved watching the chefs who went the extra mile to make sure our kids smiled. The Aria breakfast is truly first rate and should not be missed.
The afternoon wine reception is also an experience you shouldn’t miss. I’d even say that if you can’t make it to the hotel in time for the 16:00 wine reception, you should consider changing your travel plans. The hotel staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome at the reception with our three children. We chose a table in the back so we wouldn’t disturb other guests, but the hostess came over to chat with us. The pianist playing during our visit even played children’s songs for us. Our five-year-old just loved when the pianist played a Lion King song for him. The bread, cheese and other snacks during the reception were enough to tide our crowd over until dinner.
The hotel’s Stradivari restaurant serves up fine meals, but during our visit, we instead chose to dine our crew at a neighboring Italian restaurant. That turned out to be a good choice since our kids were worn out from a long day.
From the moment we checked in to the time we left, the Aria Hotel impressed us with their family-friendly focus. It was the little things. The concierge had a box of children’s toys (no doubt the lost toys of past guests) to loan to our kids. At the wine reception and at breakfast, the servers were more than happy to deliver hot chocolate or other beverages to our kids. And no kidding, our five-year-old asked for cherry juice but unbelievably they had some in the kitchen. While the Aria didn’t seem to have family rooms, they were more than happy to bring up a children’s bed to put into a room. Aria is part of the Library Hotel Collection, a small chain of four hotels currently. It feels like the chain is trying to attract more families to its properties and we think that’s a fine idea.
Rates are seasonal so it’s best to check online.