We have just got back from another fantastic trip to Budapest. We loved it. This was our 3rd time to the Hungarian capital and it did not disappoint!
Me, my partner and my partents departed from London Luton airport on Saturday and after a quick 2 hour journey on a Wizzair flight, we arrived. In previous years, we’ve travelled to Budapest in December, but this year, the flights were much cheaper in November, so we opted for a bargain. The temperature difference was really noticeable. In December, it’s usually 0 degrees and a hat, scarf, gloves and thick puffer jacket are all required, but a month earlier was much more welcoming. Most days, the temperature was around 10 degrees and although we definitely needed our coats, the efficient heating in literally every venue made it quite comfortable.
The flight times from Luton were good - departing at 14:30 - when meant we arrived into our accommodation by 19:30. We stayed at the Novotel Budapest Centrum.
This is our 2nd visit to this hotel and it was perfect. It’s located in the Jewish quarter - District 7. This area is full of bars, restaurants and coffee shops. We know it well as we always choose to stay in this area. Our usual hang out on night 1 is a music bar called Old Man Pub, but earlier this year, it closed down, so we went on the hunt for an alternative venue and somewhere to eat. However, as it was Saturday night and a traditional Hungarian celebrated day - St Martin's Day, so it was almost impossible to find a restaurant or bar with tables available.
We jumped into a taxi and headed for District 5, which is another busy area, full of bars and restaurants and we tried La Botte - an underground Italian restaurant that we had visited on our first trip to the city in 2014. We were quickly seated and shown menus, including a special fayre that had been put together for St Martin's Day. This mainly consisted of goose dishes, which none of us fancied, but the a la carte menu was superb. I chose goulash soup as a starter, which is a traditional dish and can be found in almost every restaurant and cafe in Budapest. It was delicious. for my main course, I went for a seasonal duck dish, cooked rare with wild mushrooms. Me and Mum washed our meal down with a bottle of Hungarian sparkling wine, which was surprisingly tasty.
After dinner, we wandered out into the pretty cobbled streets and literally stumbled on the red carpet of Fat Mo's Speakeasy Music Club. The carpet leads you down some steps to an underground door, which opens into a buzzing bar and restaurant. We were greeted by a great waitress who seated us and then looked after us all night; recommending local beers and beautifully presented cocktails. The house band were brilliant and performed a compilation of jazz, soul and their own rendition of current chart music. It entertained us all - 2 generations. We all enjoyed it so much, we booked to return the following evening for dinner. By midnight, we decided to call it a night and catch a taxi home. We walked to a taxi rank nearby and paid £10 to travel just over a mile. The outwards journey was similarly priced. The Budapest taxi drivers are notorious for their prices, but this was a bit much.
The following morning, we started the day with breakfast in our hotel - the Palace Restaurant. The grand dining hall is very impressive and offers a huge buffet with high quality produce. The hotel was full and we had to wait a while to be seated, but once we were, we had a good experience with good service. However, I have an egg intolerance and my partner has a nut allergy and we found it difficult to find suitable things to eat, so decided that we would dine outside the hotel for the rest of our stay. District 7 is full of small and quirky cafes, so finding somewhere for breakfast was never a probelem.
One place we've never previously visited was the Hospital in the Wall museum, so we gave it a try. It is loctaed in the castle district, in the wall at the bottom of the castle. We travelled there by metro and then climbed a VERY steep set of steps to get to the entrance, but I believe there are alternative routes and buses (including the city sightseeing bus) pass by. The guided tour takes at least an hour and is very interesting. It is a walking tour and you are taken through a sequence of tunnels and told the true stories about the city during wartimes. We all really enjoyed it and learned a lot.