After my time spent in Budapest, I’m convinced that this is the city where hipsterism was born.
I arrived on one of the many Polskibus journeys that I took over a short period of time which was a bit of a love/hate relationship. I hated the fact that the bus bathrooms either had running water, toilet paper, or soap, but never all three. I hated the fact that, being a long legged individual, I always arrived without being able to feel my legs and with a crooked back. I hated most of the people who sat beside me but, let’s be honest, that can’t be blamed on Polskibus.
I loved the prices.
I knew before arriving at my hotel that this city was my kind of place. Walking down a street lined with beer gardens, I couldn’t help but smile to myself in anticipation of the days ahead of me. Seven glorious days filled with people hanging out with their portable barbecues on bridges, strings of beer gardens, and makeshift parties on park benches. There seemed to be plenty of fun things to do in Budapest… time for me to explore!
I stayed in a boutique hotel in the Old Jewish Quarter called Casati Budapest Hotel. As soon as you walk into the building you see a display of old baby swings hanging behind glass.
Old baby swings were hanging behind glass. Can a boutique hotel BE any more hipster?
I was told that my first room was a little small and that they would be moving me to a new room the next day for my remaining two nights. Both rooms were actually incredible but when I return, I will be booking the first room again. It was one of their Heaven Rooms with glass bathroom doors, his and her sinks in the main room, and a white fluffy bed where I slept like I was the resident angel.
While staying at Casati Budapest Hotel, I experienced an eclectic nightlife that lead to memories I will never forget.
In addition to fancy cocktails at Tuk Tuk Bar, the bar attached to the hotel where we sat in swinging chairs and watched a Hungarian Olympian win the gold medal in fencing, we went out to the ruin pubs, which are huge in Budapest.
I have a pin that says so, so it must be true.
The ruin pubs are retro gardens in the heart of the city that offer a unique and trippy pub experience.
Here is my first tip: the line up is never too long. Wait.
Szimpla Kert is one of the most famous ruin pubs and found just around the corner and down the street from Casati.
There’s a table made from an old Trabant car. There’s chairs hanging from the ceiling. There’s an old tub turned into a couch. There’s a hookah lounge. There are bicycles with baskets scattered around in odd places… Like the ceiling.
At the end of the night when we were on our way out I found a staircase that we hadn’t taken yet and, naturally, couldn’t leave without seeing what was at the top. Surprisingly, we ended up in the same hallway that we reached via the other set of stairs which I was pretty sure was past the shots table, through the dance club, around the chill out zone, and a mile to the right.
The place is like a maze. A big, happy, glorious maze.
After a night out at the ruin pubs, I couldn’t ask for anything better than to wake up and head downstairs in Casati for my early morning massage followed by a breakfast buffet.
Wait for it.
The buffet comes with champagne.
Funny enough, each morning we strolled into the breakfast room pretty late each day and the bottle of champagne was always full. I don’t know if it had been replaced throughout the morning or if the other guests just didn’t know how to live. If the latter is true, I had enough mimosas for all of us, to make up for their unacceptable behavior.
One of my favorite parts about Budapest was the way the staff treated you at restaurants and bars. If this is the time when you expect me to rant and rave about excellent customer service and smiling faces, you are wrong and I’m delighted to elaborate.
The first time I really noticed how different the customer service was from what I’m used to at home was at a second ruin pub, Mazel Tov. I wasn’t ready to order and, when I told the waitress that, she just kind of shrugged and walked away.
No one seems to be in a rush to help you out. No one is going to apologize for something that isn’t their fault, give you a big cheesy smile, or pretend that you’re the most important customer in their life. It’s all done without being rude though. It’s just very honest and real. I think that’s fantastic.
Of course, a trip to Budapest isn’t complete without some sightseeing.
Freedom Bridge was such a cool place to hang out (and by cool, I mean super hipsterish). There were no cars or trams going over the bridge so everyone just uses it like a park space. There are people with barbecues, people taking photos, groups of friends hanging out with a few drinks and/or a picnic.
Visiting the thermal baths is an experience in Budapest that you don’t want to miss out on. We dedicated an entire day to Szechenyi Bath and then, two days later, decided that it wasn’t enough and spent the day at Gellert.
When you’ve had enough of ruin pubs, delicious food, and baths, Budapest is an amazing city to simply walk around and enjoy the sights.