Brody House, Budapest

It took me a long time to find Brody House. It’s not featured on any booking engines, nor many of the usual “top ten” boutique hotel listicles — yet. When I did finally stumble upon the place, I was so taken by how different it looked to anything else in Budapest, I practically planned my entire trip around it.

Set in a stately building dating back to 1896, Brody House fits right into what’s known as Budapest’s Palace Quarter in the 8th District. Once owned by a doctor of medicine, the building was home to one of the country’s finest and most complete medical libraries. Having survived over a century of wars and neglect, Brody House remains a work in progress, undergoing loving restorations since 2009 when it was taken over by its current owners, who hail from the UK. As well as accommodation, the space comprises artist studios, a gallery and event venue.

After a shortish walk from Keleti station, I was buzzed in through a palatial facade and met by a sweeping staircase, up which I had to drag my overpacked suitcase (to be fair, the receptionist offered to carry it for me, but of course I couldn’t let her). Inside, impossibly high ceilings absorbed the soft clicks of my shoes on the shiny parquet floor. A baby grand sat unassumingly in the corner, dwarfed by the grand scale of the surrounding structure.

But there’s nothing stuffy or stately about Brody House. It’s about as nonchalant as a residence can be without being aloof. The handful of rooms are individually designed in the house’s signature style — which can possibly best be described as contemporary vintage with a boho twist — and some are accessed along a windowed corridor reminiscent of Havana’s grand colonial architecture. I was lucky enough to bag the Photo Room, which features an old sewing machine refashioned as a desk and a grand antique wardrobe. In the hotel’s own words, “the room is one of the most inventive spaces in this creative hotel.” The bathroom includes a double sink and shower, with a separate toilet and playful attention to detail.

The next morning, after a restful sleep, I arose ready for breakfast in the bright lobby and bar area. Sipping my coffee as the sun streamed through those beautiful windows, I wondered if I’d ever find anywhere as impressive as Brody House again. Now, with time and distance the magic has worn off slightly — but still, this is a tough hotel to beat.

Afterwards, I checked out and stayed at the Corinthia for a couple of days, having bagged a bargain in their winter sale. Despite usually going for at least double the price, the five-star hotel has nothing on this little guesthouse.

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