Budapest: A design-lover's guide on where to stay, party and shop and get cultured
Art and about
Stay at Lanchid 19
You can't do better in terms of location by staying at Lanchid 19, part of DesignHotels' stable of creative-led hospitality pursuits. With a tram stop and the iconic Chain Bridge just two minutes from the hotel, it'll take you to the Central Market Hall, the Jewish Quarter and bus and train stations easily. Then there's the bitchin' view of Pest, which is truly unbeatable, with views across the Danube River. With Buda Castle in your backyard, everything's within walking distance. Design-lovers will appreciate the careful curation of luxury homeware brands: Cappellini, Living Divani and Moooi under one roof. Illuminated by a glass facade that changes moods at night, Lanchid 19 has been dressed by interior guru Edit Rozsos, who transformed the building's 19th century aesthetic into a contemporary pad. Glass is a main fixture of the hotel, while bright hues of tangerine and blue colour the modern, all-white palette as large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the rooms with natural light.
Join a street art tour
Hungary seems to breed innovative creatives — after all, it has produced a total of 14 Nobel Prize winners. The inventors of the ballpoint pen, soda water and Rubik's cube are Hungarian, with the cube proudly displayed in a three dimensional-like, surreal mural in Budapest's Jewish Quarter. You'll learn about this by signing up on a free street art tour, which will take you around the area where artists have critiqued on various issues: Gentrification, the Hungarian diet, artistic freedom and of course, the Hungarian prime minister, who's seen sitting on Thomas the Tank Engine (in reality, the PM notoriously spent an exorbitant amount on a train station that our guide deemed useless). Like Singapore, artists in Hungary have to apply or be granted a permit to work on murals and art on government buildings, so it's a treat when you spot an unauthorised work that's hiding in plain sight.
Check out a ruin bar
There are more than 20 ruin bars in Budapest's Jewish Quarter alone, but if you're strapped for time and have to choose, Instant and Szimpla Kert are stalwarts in the scene. Transformed into the city's watering holes from derelict and abandoned spaces, ruin bars are where Budapest's locals go for entertainment across all genres — be it pop, electronic, rock, house and techno. Instant is one of the biggest ruin bars, with each room providing a different experience each night. Meanwhile, Szimpla Kert is a lush escape in the crowded compounds, with a host of post-modern influences decorating the walls.
Pick up something locally-made at Printa
Instead of just bringing home a jar of paprika, pick up something from local design shop Printa. Making itself right at home in the city's artsy Jewish quarter, Printa is a homegrown eco-conscious label whose core business of silk-screen printing results in carefully curated creations that are proud to fly the Budapest flag high. City maps and architectural details are reinterpretated in graphic tees, posters and mugs, designed by up-and-coming artists from Hungary. The space also houses a serigraph studio, gallery and coffee shop, with a space that's used for courses and silkscreen workshops as well.