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SOLD OUT - Budapest & Tokaj Winemaker Trip with Richard Bratby and Jonathan Ray

After the thundering success of our inaugural Spectator tour of Champagne last year, in 2024 we’re making another effervescent assault on the region as well as undertaking our first trip to Budapest and Tokaj. We plan to head to Bordeaux and Porto & the Douro Valley later in the year, too, with all our trips overseen by luxury travel specialists Kirker Holidays. Do join us!

Based at the Hotel Prestige, we will have three days in Budapest, taking in a night at the Hungarian State Opera and visits to the celebrated Szechenyi baths, the castle district, the cathedral and the National Gallery. We will dine in fine local restaurants (including the fabled Gundel in Budapest City Park) and there will also be time to explore at your leisure before we head across the Great Hungarian Plain to the wine region of Eger and then the Degenfeld Castle Hotel in Tokaj, where we will have visits to two of the finest producers of Tokaji: the Royal Tokaji Co and Disznókó.

Hosted by classical music columnist Richard Bratby and drinks editor Jonathan Ray

Full itinerary and pricing

Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 June 2024

Join The Spectator’s classical music columnist Richard Bratby and drinks editor Jonathan Ray for a four-night holiday in Hungary, combining the grand capital Budapest, with the celebrated vineyards of Tokaji. We shall spend three days in Budapest, taking in a night at the Hungarian State Opera and visits to the celebrated Szechenyi baths and the castle district, as well as a private dinner cruise on the Danube and the fabled Gundel restaurant in Budapest City Park. Heading across the Great Hungarian Plain to the wine regions of Eger and Tokaj, we shall sample the famous dessert wine, Tokaji Aszú, which Louis XIV famously called the "Wine of Kings, King of Wines". We will meet winemakers at two of the finest producers of Tokaji: the Royal Tokaji Co and Disznóko, and stay at the magnificent Degenfeld Castle Hotel.

Day 1

We fly from Heathrow to Budapest with British Airways this morning, where we shall be met by our local guide and transferred to the Hotel Oktogon Haggenmacher (4*), an impressive hotel housed in the former palace of a Hungarian brewing magnate. There will be some free time this afternoon, before we board the historic steamer Attila, for a private dinner cruise with a live jazz duo and our first taste of Hungarian wines.

Day 2

We will start this morning with a tour of the centre of historic Pest – the grand Hapsburg city on the left bank of the Danube. Beginning at Heroes Square, with its classical buildings and statues of Hungary’s rulers, we will proceed to St. Stephen’s Basilica with spectacular views over the city, before heading to the impressive neo-gothic House of Parliament. In the afternoon, we will relax at the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths, a unique and essential Hungarian experience. Returning to the hotel via the first metro line in continental Europe, we will then dine this evening at the legendary culinary Gundel, a landmark in Hungarian gastronomy established by chef Károly Gundel.

Day 3

After breakfast we will travel by coach from Budapest across the Great Hungarian Plain, stopping en route at the Thummerer winery, which makes still and sparkling wines as well as traditional pálinkas on 100 hectares of vineyards in the Eger Wine Region. We will meet the owner and enjoy lunch with accompanying wines, before continuing to Tokaji and the Royal Tokaji Company, where we will sample some of the finest wines being produced in the region today. Arriving at Gróf Degenfeld Castle Hotel, the chateau-style estate of the Count Degenfeld Family, we will check in. In 1994 the Count Degenfeld family successfully revived its 150-year-old wine-making tradition, and today the estate produces varietal wines using Furmint, Harslevelu and Yellow Muscat, as well as sweet Tokaji Aszú. We will tour the historic cellar and have a special dinner with accompanying wines.

Day 4

This morning we visit the village of Mád, where we see the exquisite 18th century synagogue, which was restored between 2000 and 2004 with aid from the World Monuments Fund. Continuing to the Disznókő Winery, we will meet director Laszlo Meszaros for a tour and tasting, followed by a delicious lunch at the Yellow House restaurant. We return to Budapest in the afternoon, and this evening we attend the Hungarian State Opera for a performance of Prokofiev’s epic War & Peace.

Day 5

On our final day in Budapest we will explore the Castle District of Buda, including the recently renovated neo-Gothic Matthias Church, coronation church of Hungarian kings for centuries, and the neo-Romanesque Fishermen's Bastion. We will pause at a wine cellar in the mediaeval old town for a tasting of a variety of Hungarian wines, followed by a traditional Hungarian lunch at a local restaurant. We return to the airport after lunch.

Price per person: £3,575, single supplement £328

What’s Included:

- Return flights from Heathrow to Budapest with British Airways

- Transfers and entrance fees throughout

- Four nights’ accommodation with breakfast

- Three dinners and three lunches with wine

- Four wine-tastings at local wineries

- One stalls ticket for the Hungarian State Opera

- The services of Spectator writers Richard Bratby and Jonathan Ray, as well as a Kirker tour escort

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