Q: What is it? A: A hotel in the middle of everything in Budapest. Does Buddha-Bar mean stylish and modern? Yes, if you are the kind who will play lounge music at home and settle with stylish and modern in the most bring-me-back-to-1996-sense of those words.
Built 1902 in Hungarian eclectic style (architect Kálmán Giergl) this is the Klotild Palace just near the well-known Váci utca – the shopping street which central Budapest revolves around. Speaking about shopping; there’s no limit to how many little crystal birds that are available there!
Rooms look like the nightclub (or vice versa). Paris-based firm REV Architecture were responsible for the interior concept in the 102 suites, which is listed on their website as 2012 work. Sorry, Cristiano Benzoni and partners, but to me looks more like 1996 work…
A welcome gift to the rather large room; a rather large bathroom with a tub. In all honesty, I’m glad that they dropped the red and black color concept in these particular spaces – if you lose your contacts you have a chance to find them again!
To many locals, the Buddha-Bar is… a bar! It also comes with an Asian-themed restaurant and a spa. Or as they say on their website: ”…combining the quintessence of French excellence with Asian codes of well-being and hospitality”. Well… OK.
In 1997, I visited the Buddha-Bar in Paris.
Friends brought me to the original Buddha-Bar. I had created some serious hangovers at the Barfly (great Parisian place, btw!) that was owned by a Mr. Raymond Visan, and this Buddha-place was his new joint. When it opened in 1996, the Buddha-Bar really was shit-hot. A game-changer. It’s worth mentioning that we were only a few years into trying to get used to sushi. This was long before Tao opened in New York (2000) and folks were buying these Buddha-Bar CDs (remember them little silver discs?) with chill-out music concept… So there I was, in Budapest, and basically experiencing a flashback to way back when.
I should say that I’m not a huge fan…
…of this Asian interior thing. Black and red and dragons and Chinese hanzi logograms and the occasional little statues. In my book it balances on that fine edge between tasting like sweet/sour sauce at your local Chinese lunch hangout and being cool/cozy. The concept is so pronounced that it wears your eyes out rather quickly. I applaud them for trying, though. I’m thankful for the Nespresso machine in the room (although the idea of using an aluminum pod when you want a coffee makes me feel like a total dick). I’m also glad that they didn’t bring the opium den-concept to the bathrooms.
What’s pleasant with staying at the Buddha-Bar Hotel:
There are some amazing people working in the reception. Concierge and front desk are truly helpful. The breakfast staff is really friendly (and breakfast is quite OK). Still I recognize a few dents in the paintwork. I’m on my laptop, working in one of the lobbies, when a young, gorgeous woman approaches me. I’m going from flattered to surprised when asked about my preferences of ”…massage, sex and blow jobs”. I’m basically being offered a ”super-session” for a bargain price. Not good, Buddha-folks. Not good.
So if you want to stay in a pretty central palace…
The Buddha-Bar Hotel occupies the Klotild palace which means a super-strategic location only steps away from the Váci utca, a pedestrian street where most things from discounted trainers to thousands of little glass and crystal birds can be purchased. You’re only minutes from the Vörösmarty square, the department stores and Onyx, the second of Budapest’s Michelin-starred restaurants. It should be mentioned that it’s not the cheapest of Budapest hotels but I’ll recommend it for the friendly service (not for the decor).
No, the location cannot be beat but I’m not kidding about those crystal birds. Trust me, I’m not.
Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace
1052 Budapest, Váci utca 34