The top five restaurants to visit in Budapest

As always, food played a big part in our holiday in Budapest. It's actually quite a hipster city filled with little bakeries, vegan and vegetarian options and trendy brunch places. Ice cream is also huge so make sure you hunt out the shops for a few scoops of the good stuff - especially if you need to cool down. Here are my top five restaurants I would wholeheartedly recommend because life's too short to have a bad meal right?

Nowadays I prefer going to a street food feast than a sit down restaurant. We are so spoilt by the street food scene in London. There's something about the sheer amount of choice and the greedy little piglet in me likes the fact you can eat more than one thing. We stumbled across this courtyard filled with various street food vendors next to the ruin pub Szimpla Kert and it was buzzing. We took it as a good sign and decided to try it out. I went for a cottage cheese and ham burrito which was nice but didn't blow me away. But the cheese and chicken nachos did. Oh my gosh, they were insanely good. My friends went for the burgers and said they reminded them of Five Guys. It's a great place to go if you're on a budget or planning a night out. It seemed most British people were drawn to it too as it seemed every single person had a familiar accent - guess us Brits do love our street food!

Da Mario
Usually when I'm away I like to stick to the local food but sometimes you just fancy some pizza. Who am I kidding? I always fancy pizza but my boyfriend isn't keen so I don't have it that often. So when he suggests it I have to take advantage. We had organised a trip to see the Hungarian Parliament and a walk along the Danube and after spotting this place in my Lonely planet guide book, I decided it had to be worth a shot. I opted for a gooey cheese based pizza topped with parma harm, cherry tomatoes and a mountain of rocket. It was absolutely delicious. The chewy sourdough base was cooked to perfection, the toppings were generous and the thin base soaked up the stringy cheese. For four pizzas and eight cokes, the bill came to about £50. Service was friendly and attentive and it has a lovely outside terrace to watch the world go by.

A little bit of a higher price point, this slightly swish restaurant offers a modern twist on Hungarian classics. While the price is more expensive than other eateries offering local food, the portions are huge. Certainly no need for starters if you're looking to save money! It's located on a great strip full of buzzing restaurant and bars. The Hungarain beef stew with homemade noodles was a delight. Full of tender cube of beefs in a spicy tomato sauce, the dish was delicious and a great introduction to the local cuisine.

Brunch is such a massive deal in London that I feel we are kinda spoilt. Therefore I find some cities don't quite live up to the expectations. After a little research I came across this all day breakfast place in the Jewish Quarter. It's a little off the beaten track and in what seems like a very local area but it's worth the hunt. We pumped for the Hungarian breakfast with crispy streaky bacon, perfectly poached eggs, a addictive wholegrain mustard sauce, spicy Hungarian sausages, crusty slices of bread and a bundle of salad leaves. I'm still dreaming about those sausages. Similar tasting to chorizo, they had such a delicious kick to them.

Beware to wait a while if you visit here - it gets very busy! Once again located in the Jewish Quarter, this colourful little restaurant does a brilliant brunch. The lunch menu looked pretty darn good too. The flaky, warm croissant was the best I've ever tasted! We were all nursing a little hangover so went for the recovery breakfast. A giant concoction with crispy bacon, creamy scrambled egg, cherry tomatoes, spicy sausages, green salad leaves and a croissant served with fresh orange juice. It's not a budget option but is still very good value for money compared to home!


Hotel review: Brody House, Budapest, Hungary

I'm usually one to do holidays on a budget. Cheap flights and cheap apartments so I can have more than one holiday a year. But for this trip I wanted luxury and boutique hotels. So during my weekly browse on Mr and Mrs Smith to see how the other half lives, I stumbled across Brody House. The slightly dilapidated interiors, quirky little features and perfect location had me hook, line and sinker. When I realised the price worked out about £60 a room, per night, I knew I wasn't going to stay anywhere else. Just keep in mind that you will get charged a city tax and VAT upon checkout so you don't have a nasty little shock like we did. But despite this, I still think it offers great value for money and we all deserve a little treat once in a while don't we?

Offering just 11 rooms, the boutique hotel has a similar vibe to the Soho House chain. Each room is named after the artist whose work hangs on the wall, meaning every one is unique. We opted for the Ludo room and boy did we pick well. With a huge soft king size bed and luxurious free-standing roll top bath, it made coming home every night a joy. The room was huge and more than enough space for two people sharing. I loved the waterfall shower tucked behind a rickety wooden screen and the quirky little interiors that made it feel like home. The daily maid service was great and they topped up our towels every day.

After oohing and ahhing at the room, we decided to explore the hotel. And stumbled across the honesty bar. Situated near reception, there are two room with comfy sofas, board games and mix matched wooden tables. Each one boasts an honesty bar filled with every kind of drink you can imagine, nibbles, cocktail book and ice cream in the freezer. The game is to help yourself whenever you fancy but you have to write down what you have so it can be charged to your room at the end of your stay. I loved this idea and we spent a few evenings treating ourselves to a gin before we went out for dinner. The courtyard was a great place to hang out on a warm summer's evening, putting the world to rights.

The hotel also offers a continental breakfast or an al la carte breakfast. Keen to put it to the test, we had it the first morning. It was nice but it not very big and a bit overpriced for what it was so opt for breakfast in the city. The wifi was a little hit and miss which is great if you want to complete switch off. But I had a few work emails I wanted to check and it was a bit annoying.

There is a private members club about a seven minute drive away. We never made it here but I've heard it offers good food, fun entertainment and as a guest of the hotel, you get to visit for free.

This was honestly my favourite place I have ever stayed - EVER! It was homely, quirky and in a great location. It really did feel like a home away from home and I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. It's such a cool concept and one that works so well in a city keen to become hip and happening. I'm tempted to visit Budapest again just so I can have a few nights here!


Exploring Europe: Budapest, Hungary

So I'm back in the real world. I've been back in the country a week and it feels like I've never been away at all. But I did. For two glorious weeks. Starting in reverse order, I'm going to tell you all about my trip to Budapest - the place we visited last on our Eastern European trip. Keep an eye out for the next three posts featuring an incredible hotel review - honestly the best place I've ever stayed -, the best things to do and a food guide to the city. But first things first, here is a little introduction to the Hungarian capital.

Budapest had been on my radar for a good few years so when the idea came about for an epic European trip, I made sure it was shortlisted. Luckily my friends are quite happy to go along with the flow so I scheduled in five days at the tail end of the holiday. After thorough research I decided I wanted to stay on the Pest side of the city, specifically in the Jewish Quarter. The old Jewish Ghetto. Historically poor, this neighbourhood had been touted as a vibrant hub of quirky ruin pubs, delicious places to eat and a rough and ready vibe. Naturally I was sold.

We'd spent more than three hours on a train from Bratislava, so when we arrived I was flustered. Not to mention sweaty from the ridiculous 33 degree heat and the stress of a broken suitcase that I was lugging around. We got a taxi to our hotel, dumped our stuff, went to one of the famous baths and decided to hunt out some dinner. Walking around the streets, I couldn't stop a sinking feeling. I wanted to desperately fall in love with it and stare in awe as we soaked up the city. But Budapest is dirty and grubby. It's not pretty and it doesn't capture your imagination from the first moment. We went for a lovely dinner and decided to call it a night at 10pm but on our way back we stumbled across the main strip. At 10pm, it was full of loud, obnoxious people falling in and out of bars. A traumatic amount of homeless people lining the streets alongside the revellers. I went to bed feeling worried that we had five days to fill in a place I wasn't sure I wanted to be.

Waking up the next morning I decided to look at Budapest with a clear head, determined to give it a second chance. And it lived up to my expectations. I still struggled to get over the filth and I commute to London for work! But after crossing the river over to Buda, I finally got the hype. The castle, Fisherman's Bastian, pastel coloured houses and St Matthias Church offered a completely different side to the city. I finally appreciated Budapest for what it was. It was rough and ready but it was also interesting and charming. There are are beautiful sights to wander around and some incredible views to soak up. You can tell it's a country proud to rise from the oppressive communist rule and one that is trying hard to make it's own mark. After the initial disappointment it actually end up as my second favourite place we visited - even though it was last on the list of my three travel companions! It was the city we had the most fun in, the city we have the funniest stories from and the city that we felt the most relaxed in. Thanks Budapest, I'll be back. Just maybe on my own!


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