An Insider’s Guide to: Budapest

Budapest: a city steeped in history, eclectic culture and modern luxury. With its architectural prowess, stunning river views and exquisite fine dining, there’s nowhere else quite like it – and Budapest-born fine art photographer Flora Borsi knows it.

An accomplished artist, whose artwork has been the face of Adobe Photoshop and even exhibited at the Louvre, Flora’s adoration of her hometown is well known. From the luxury walls of the Marriott’s Matild Palace – part of Marriot’s Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts portfolio – to the famous thermal baths, we caught up with the young visionary to get the inside scoop on travelling to this unique and inspirational city.

Where to stay

For the global traveller eager for luxury surroundings, Flora shares the best location for a relaxing and grandiose Budapest getaway, ‘I’d recommend staying at Matild Palace because it’s very inspiring to stay somewhere special and beautiful, especially because of its art nouveau style. This hotel is the best choice when someone is looking for these values.’

A UNESCO heritage site, Marriott’s newly opened Matild Palace encompasses the soul of Hungarian heritage. Built during the belle époque period in 1902, it was previously home to Hungarian royalty, Her Imperial and Royal Highness Maria Klotild of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

‘The renovations turned out perfectly and it has a charm,’ says Flora. The stories of the city unfold through the architectural design, as well as through the detailed interiors, boasting Hungarian parquet flooring and bathroom tiles inspired by the iconic Hungarian thermal baths. On the doorstep of the Elisabeth Bridge, Matild Palace offers breathtaking views overlooking the Danube and famous street Váci Utca, with exclusive guest access to river cruises.

What to do

There are countless unique attractions in Budapest, so there’s no shortage of exciting things to do. ‘I love the atmosphere and the eclectic style of it. I love how everything is close to each other and the opportunities that the city gives. I’d recommend going for a walk in the Buda Castle area, spending an afternoon at the spa at Gellért Bath and taking a boat ride along the Danube river,’ says Flora.

Budapest’s thermal baths were built at the beginning of the 20th century and are natural hot springs with medicinal benefits – and a huge part of Hungarian culture – while the famous Danube river offers spectacular cruises with live music and three-course dinners that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the romance and mystery of the city.

Hidden gems: heritage and history

Teeming with historical hotspots, Budapest’s striking skyline and cultural opulence has positioned this place as a unique getaway for history and art lovers. ‘I would recommend Ludwig Museum for a cultural recharge and for lovers of contemporary art,’ suggests Flora. ‘Also the MÜPA (Palace of Arts), because next to Ludwig Museum there is a beautiful opera, concert and ballet theatre, which is called the Béla Bartók Concert Hall.’

Another little-known spots of the city that is a must-see and treasured by locals such as Flora is Városliget (City Park). ‘It’s the hidden gem of Budapest I like the most,’ she says. ‘It has beautiful gardens and was recently renovated.’

The landscape of Budapest has been lived in since the 4th century, but the current city found its inception in 1873, merging the two cities of Buda and Pest. Its castle quarter includes fortresses that date back to the 13th century.

The city’s history plays a role in Flora’s creative process: ‘It inspires me because I can see the unique elements that the old masters did to build a masterpiece. Every street that I visit is just special and filled with life and pure art.’

Shopping and dining

Budapest’s wealth of gastronomy will impress any food lover, from casual eateries on Bartók Béla Street to the Matild Palace, featuring culinary delights and food provenance tours, including truffle hunting. ‘For luxury eating I’d recommend the restaurant inside the hotel, which is called Spago, founded by world-famous chef Wolfgang Puck.’

The hotel also features a secret liqueur bar and garden inspired by the Archduchess Clotilde Maria at the rooftop level called The Duchess. ‘For drinks and bars, I’d go for rooftops. Luckily the hotel is located in the most spectacular area of the city, with great views and extraordinary cocktails.’

If you’re eager to try some traditional delicacies, Central Market Hall offers traditional dishes such as kolbász (Hungarian sausages) and töltött káposzta (cabbage rolls), as well as soups, stews and snacks.

After a bite to eat you can discover the shopping district, featuring much-loved luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. ‘The best place for shopping is Andrássy Street, this venue has a wide range of styles for fashion lovers.’

For Flora, Budapest is a city to be relished and one that never fails to inspire: ‘I think you can be culturally recharged and fulfilled with the natural gifts of the city for both body and soul.’

Discover your next luxury getaway at Marriott’s Matild Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Budapest

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