Our expert went on a fantasy shopping spree and found fancy presents here. If you want the best, and you want it from Budapest, these unique, and very local, gifts may fill the bill.
László Vass is a leading shoemaker in Hungary who comes from a long line of craftsmen and works closely with his daughter Éva to produce beautiful pieces for your feet. Vass Shoes has garnered an international following in part for the store’s central location near the tourist-heavy Váci utca, but also for its high-quality products and unique bespoke services. Vass offers classic and more modern designs in a wide range of colors in both calf and cordovan leathers. Shoes are crafted by hand using traditional shoemaking techniques. Bespoke and ready-to-wear shoes for women are also available as well as accessories for men. Prices start at HUF 135,000 for ready-to-wear models up to HUF 250,000 for bespoke boots.
Home-grown skin care range Omorovizca credits its product range to the 2,000-year-old history of Budapest’s thermal springs. The Omorovizca family built the Rácz Spa in the 19th century but the Omorovizca brand was founded much later in 2005 by a descendent of the family, Stephen de Heinrich and his wife Margaret. They have come up with a technique for distilling the healing effects of thermal waters into their skincare line. Anti-aging products are among their top sellers and claim to restore the skin’s collagen production. The premium Blue Diamond line promotes cell regeneration of the dermis (€175-360), while perennial favorites include the Thermal Cleansing Balm (€58), which contains Hungarian moor mud from the Héviz Lake region. Omorovicza’s flagship store and spa is located on Andrassy út, nestled among high-end fashion brand shops.
The Tokaj wine region is the oldest producer of botrytized wines. The rich minerality of the soil and microclimate as well as indigenous grape varieties make it ideal for producing some of the world’s best wines. Although dry vintages are growing in popularity, Tokaj is still best known for its sweet wines. Tokaji Essencia (Essence) is among the most rare of all Tokaji wines. The juice is extracted through the sheer weight of the grapes and the sugar content is very high, in the case of Royal’s Essencia 2007, 560g/liter. This nectar is usually blended with dry wines to produce Tokaji Asszú but in this case it has been left intact and can be sipped from the small crystal spoons included in the purchase price of the bottle: HUF 30,000. The wine is a light, straw color and has fresh notes of apricot. It is full bodied, despite having only 2% alcohol content but the extremely high sugar ratio is balanced by elegant acidity.
The fall-winter collection from local design house NUBU was inspired by visual artist Vera Molnár’s tetragonal constructions; the fabrics, forms and colors are all reminiscent of the painter’s works. NUBU’s designers let the cloth speak for itself in the construction of their statement pieces. Belts that cross under wide plies of fabric accentuate angular cuts, pocket shapes and collars. NUBU’s signature colors are black, off-white, beige and grey but are highlighted this season by red, dark mauve and blue. NUBU’s men’s collection uses similar elements to the women’s and feature linen and other natural fabrics, accentuated by elegant and sporty details. All items can be purchased directly from NUBU’s flagship store on Andrássy út.
Master perfumer Zsolt Zolyomi studied the art of fragrance creation in France and returned to Hungary armed with the unique skills of his trade. His services range from personal fragrance consultation (including a range of limited series, handcrafted perfumes from HUF 69,000) or personalized perfume preparation. The latter involves the creation of a bespoke scent that perfectly suits your own. In the process, which takes a minimum of five months, Zolyomi meets with clients to assess their needs, desires and of course their scent and then takes that information to the lab to create the best match. The fee for the service starts at HUF 2 million and can go up to €30,000. Distinguished diplomats and movie stars are among those who seek out Zolyomi’s bespoke fragrances.
Known for its signature eosin glazing techniques and the colorful tiles that adorn the rooftops of the Mátyás Church and the Great Market Hall, Hungarian porcelain manufacturer Zsolnay’s precious porcelain creations are made by hand and priced accordingly. Its limited series are prepared to order, numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity that includes the year of production, the size and the ordinal number of the series. Pick from beautifully ornate vases, unusual flatware, jewelry or tiles. Sure to be a showpiece in any home. Shown is a piece produced by Zsolnay in house artist Viktor Erdei. More ornate Zsolnay pieces come with a price tag as high as €20,000.
This private Budapest gallery also functions as an auction house specializing in Hungarian painters from 1850-1950 such as the work shown, “Flowers in a Vase” by János Vaszary (opening pic) sold at an auction earlier this year for HUF 61 million. The Kieselbach Gallery was established by art historian Tamás Kieselbach and frequently exhibits rare Hungarian works at non-selling exhibitions as well. If you can’t make it to the auction on December 21, Kieselbach’s website lists paintings for sale by thematic category.
Located just around the corner from the renowned Gerbaud cake shop on Vörösmarty tér, the Michelin-starred Onyx sports a lavish interior and offers a unique culinary experience that can last up to three hours. Onyx’s mission is to update Hungarian cuisine and Chef Szabina Szulló and her husband Tamás Széll have done a wonderful job of it. Exciting flavor combinations and sumptuous textures back innovative culinary technology and inventive presentation. Reinterpretations of regional cuisine are on offer in the “Hungarian Evolution Menu” (from HUF 28,000) while the more adventurous “Tasting Menu” comprises eight courses (from HUF 31,900). A set menu of wine pairings is also available. Vouchers can be purchased at the restaurant, via bank transfer or by credit card.
Artelli produces made-to-measure shirts using the finest cottons imported from England’s Thomas Mason textile manufacturer. Choose from a selection of fabrics, patterns, and buttons and a tailor will take your measurements in store or make house calls and even deliver the finished product. Artelli also produces made-to-measure suits and denim jeans. Shirts start at €150 and go up in €10 increments depending on how many extra details you would like, such as monograms, mother of pearl buttons, matching pocket squares. Hours are set to suit the working man: Open from 3-8 p.m. English and German spoken.