4. The night out: Kazinczy utca
There are more than 400 places to get drunk in the Jewish district, and Kazinczy utca is the place to get to grips with them. The street is home to the warren of rooms that is Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s original ruin pub-abandoned buildings taken over by artists early in the 21st century, and turned into unofficial galleries and bars. The concept has come a long way since, and is now used rather liberally to denote any sort of pub adopting a slightly dishevelled look. Further down the road is Mika Tivadar Mulato, with street art splashed across the walls of the surrounding buildings, and the garden haphazardly strung with fairy lights. The prime seat in the house is within a row boat beached in the yard. AnKERT raises the design bar. Tables sit beneath canopies of sails, with lanterns and neon artwork hanging over the cobbled courtyard of the old factory complex. Beneath the bar, an enormous sign proclaims: FINALLY ARRIVED. With a cold pint of Dreher and a jalapeño burger on the way, it’s hard to disagree.
5. The hotel: Brody House
When William Clothier and Peter Grundberg bought the mansion at No 10 Bródy Sandor, it had been in a state of disrepair for more than 50 years. The former doctor’s house, built in Budapest’s golden age at the end of the 19th century, had survived WWII and the Hungarian Uprising – but not decades of Soviet rule. The two friends lived within its dilapidated walls, hosting dinner parties and cultural gatherings, before transforming it into Brody House, Budapest’s most creative guesthouse. It retains the feel of a private home, whose guests wander around in a state of enchantment, not quite believing their luck in scoring an invite to stay. Artful disrepair is still the name of the game: upcycled furniture on the parquet floors, the works of local artists on the distressed walls, and an air of friendly bohemian ease, as if someone might at any moment jump up to recite a poem over a glass of wine from the honesty bar in the lounge.
6. The boat trip: Dunarama
It’s the classic Venetian scene: crew in blue-and-white-striped T-shirts help passengers into a mahogany speedboat, and off they skim across the water, glasses of sparkling wine in hand, the sound of classical music drifting across the waves. But this is not the Grand Canal, and we are not in Italy. Inspired by a trip to Venice, Botond Eöry decided to bring a similar style of Riva boat to Budapest. Built in Hungary, his Dunarama fleet now plies the Danube on sightseeing trips, taking passengers down river, past the monastery and produce market to the edge of the city, with the promise of the Black Sea far beyond. Here, Strauss is abruptly switched for AC/DC, the boat spins, and then thunders back, bouncing over the water towards the Parliament Building and Margitsziget. The captain weaves between long tourist cruisers and cargo ships bound for Germany, at every spin of the wheel, obliging passengers to follow the international seafarer’s law of waving to other people also on boats.