Before heading off to the Baltics last month, I had the chance to get a sneak peek into the new Writers’ Villa – a luxury property owned by the chaps from Brody House that’s available to rent. Located up in the Buda Hills, more specifically on Svábhegy, this decadent mansion is a heritage listed building which carries unique features, such as its Zsolnay fountain and stained glass winter garden featuring the craft of Miksa Róth, – it looks like something from a fairy tale.
On my visit it poured with rain, shrouding the house with a misty haze that added only served to enhance the magic of this historical villa. While most of us warmed ourselves indoors by the tiled fireplace, watching the giant flames get sucked up into the chimney and drunk cocktails under the arched portico gazing out to the turquoise tones in the lit up pool and the Zsolnay fountain through a haze of precipitation, the villa still had the ability to enchant its guests.
Built in 1881 by Baron József Szterényi de Brasso, legend has it that the once the minister of commerce in Austria-Hungary built this villa as gift for his ballerina lover. Over the decades, the grew wings and bloomed in its architectural beauty, when in 1913, its ornate winter garden became a new addition to the property and in 1930 the loggia was extended with its terrace.
Decline descended upon the former love nest under the communist era. Catering to the proletariat masses, the villa became carved up into separate
residential flats, where its tenants neglected its historical details in the name of functionality, until Dutch author Jaap Scholten bought up the villa and gave it a new lease of life.
Seeing the beauty behind the house’s fading grandeur, Scholten bought up the entire property, dedicated to restore the villa’s former magic. Searching for the pieces missing from the stained glass windows, he travelled to Miskolc in the north of Hungary in order to renovate the missing panels and fragments of rich colour from the beautiful winter garden. The pool became a later addition, but bit by bit Scholten breathed life back into this historic villa.
Once his kids flew the nest, leaving the large mansion virtually empty, the property passed into the hands of Brody House owners Peter Grundberg and William Clothier, who continued make over, giving it their Brody brand signature. Today, the villa is available to rent as a luxury property on the whole.
Downstairs is for entertaining, where the winter garden and various large salons open into one another housing a Zsonaly stove and rooms once used for entertaining. and the basement is home to another of bedroom and a Turkish style spa – and a secret entrance out to the arched portico leading up to the pool and the lower terrace.
Up on the first floor, leading up a creaking wooden staircase leads up to the classic suites, whereas the attic’s renovation has that minimalist Scandinavian feel, with a hint of a maritime accent and a view over the city.
The thing that inspires me about the villa isn’t that it’s another luxury place in Budapest, but the heritage and legacy that surrounds it. I confess I don’t spend much time in the Buda Hills, but there is a certain magic that the Writers’ Villa encapsulates that just adds to the unique spirit of Budapest.