We were thrilled to have BBC Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney join our elite posse of ninja-like secret reviewers. As a clued-in culture maven who’s better known as the disembodied voice accompanying listeners’ breakfast bacon sarnies, she makes the perfect anonymous reviewer for Mr & Mrs Smith, who can flit about the hotel (in this case Budapest’s Brody House) incognito like a Keyser Soze-esque enigma.
Of course, Gemma has a face suited for far more than radio, so we’re outing her here to add hotel connoisseurship to her already impressive skillset: DJ, stylist to musicians such as Florence Welch and spokesperson for climate change. The girl’s donned more than one hat, so it’s a good thing she wears them well. Alongside her BBC Breakfast Show she’s flirted with TV presenting on Channel 4’s Frock Me display, and her Company magazine column and Memmo Baleeira hotel review for Smith prove she can wield a pen mightily. For this enthusiast of avant-garde fashion and bubbly morning mouthpiece Smith found an equally vivid and fashion-forward hotel, and judging by Gemma’s Brody House hotel review this artfully antiquated Budapest bolthole exceeded all expectations…
We’ve booked three nights in Budapest, and the truth is, neither of us knows what to expect. Landing at a gigantic wooden door down a quiet but central road, a titchy plaque on the buzzer says ‘Brody House’; but there’s no sign of what it is like beyond. However, less than 10 minutes after arrival we are already lusting for Brody. It’s not the easiest place to describe – it isn’t quite a B&B or self-catering accommodation, and not quite a gallery or studio space – but the photo shoot taking place in a nearby closed-off room (previously used for a super-sexy Playboy shoot), the bizarre modern paintings emblazoned across the walls and the lounge-cum-breakfast area suggest it’s an amalgamation of the four.
The setting wouldn’t look out of place as the opening scene of a modern adaptation of a Molière play, with unapologetically distressed walls and a strikingly unique but distinctly bonkers building. Every little detail emphasises the owners’ quirky taste, down to the brown paper-bag wrapped jam jars used as tea-light holders in each room and lamps made from old Dom Perignon bottles; plus it’s actually relaxed, rather than pretending to be. One of our favourite features was the honesty bar, which contained everything you need to make any cocktail of choice and even chilled bottles of champagne.