Five reasons to visit Budapest, and what to wear while you're there. By Alice Riley Smith
To stay at Brody House, the jazziest of the jazzy hotels that now occupy the crumbling palaces of Budapest's Józsefváros district. There are just 11 bedrooms – all distressed paintwork, up-cycled furniture and original artwork (for sale) – and staying here grants access to the city's coolest hangout, members' club Brody Studios, where sipping cocktails to live music in the fairy-lit courtyard leads to dancing under disco balls 'til dawn.
To eat the best Israeli food at urban jungle Mazel Tov. The seventh-district restaurant revolves around a painfully stylish atrium space where tables are set out around indoor trees and under hanging plants, with a tiled bar at one end serving cocktails until late. Go back the next day for brunch and order hangover-curing homemade lemonade, creamy hummus with warm falafels and a spicy shakshuka, and you won't be disappointed.
To pamper at the prettiest thermal pools. The hundred-year-old Gellert Spa is housed in a breathtaking Art Nouveau building, with a pillared swimming pool at its centre. Warm up in the steam baths and saunas, or indulge in a massage or mani/pedi.
To see Buda castle lit up at night. Walk across Chain Bridge from Pest to Buda and you could be in a different city, where the illuminated castle casts its light over a warren of cobbled walkways, perfect for getting lost down, stumbling upon the loveliest little galleries, shops and cafes.
To shop all-things-food at Central Market Hall. In the impressive neo-gothic building (worth the visit alone), you'll find stalls selling meats, pastries, spices, and spirits, plus fishmongers and butchers hustling for their trade. At Christmas, there's a festive market with little pop-up gabled shops offering traditional gifts, marzipans and mulled wine.