Where Not to Stay in Budapest

While in Budapest I stayed in three different accommodation types. My first was a hostel in Kalvin Ter, which was by far the coolest hostel I have ever stayed in. The name is Minoo House. Why not to stay there: It caters more to the quirky type of personality. The place is littered with old junk, broken type writers, pianos, eight tracks players, a bath tub. It looks dirty but actually it’s immaculate. That’s the beauty of it. The staff is super cool, quirky, and friendly. And there seems to be no shortage of hostel beds, which is why I’d prefer the place to be a secret since I’m a fan of extending at last minute and if too many people know about it I believe all hell would break loose. But really, if you’re just looking for a cheap hostel and don’t care much about the goings-ons within the hostel, pass this one up, there are way trendier hostels in Budapest. If you want a chill hostel you can relax in and meet nice people: this is your spot.

The place is gorgeous, a calm chunk of city that’s surrounded by things to do. My first week I was pretty sick so I actually barely left the 50 meter radius of my bed- because I didn’t have to. The place naturally draws cool people to hang out with and between the backyard bar and burger, (Good Bar Good Burger), and the front yard bars/cafes/restaurants (Lumen being the frequented favorite with some pre-tty cool owners), I just didn’t need to go anywhere to have a great time. There are several grocery shops within an easy walking distance, and Aldi not too far away but also one tiny deli as well as two markets that I carelessly passed along the way, as well as two in the other direction (one being a Tesco Expressz). There’s a metro line as well as a tram line within a 7 minute walk from the place, so it’s super accessible. You can walk from here to museums, there are two I can think of off the top of my head that are within like 5 minutes of the hostel on foot, a semi-famous Synagog is also within a few minutes walk, you can take the tram over to Margaret Island, see the Parliament, or take the M3, it seems to be able to get you pretty much everywhere. From Minoo you can also take a stroll down past the university, over the bridge, the green bridge being another good hangout spot, to the citadel or to one of the two more preferable baths in the city, Rudas or Gallert.

ALSO, just to tie this up because it is an amazing hostel and I could go on for days about this, if you are interested in night life this place is still pretty great. It’s pretty close to the Jewish Quarter which is, I’ve been told, the hub for social life. Many bars all ranging in crowd types and venue styles, also some late night drunk girl food to be had in this area, so you’re welcome. There’s also a kebab place which is IMMACULATE just down the road from Minoo near the tram line. They do vegetarian quite well and it’s open pretty late, as are most things in this area, so that’s another option if you, like me, are a drunken wanderer and decide that you’re hungry when you’re pretty close to home.

I stayed at Minoo twice, first in the beginning in one of the dorm beds and then again with my boyfriend in one of the private rooms, and then, due to lack of availability of private rooms, we moved down to another dorm that turned into a private hostel because of the angels behind reception who packed everyone into other dorms, I believe so that we could have the room to ourselves. Some of the rooms have double beds, this being one of them. We paid for two beds but there is a double option, I don’t know for sure if you can pay more to share or not. There are a lot of dorms. They’re all creative and beautiful, filled with beautiful people, and, above all, comfortable. I’ve only seen one bunk bed and there is plenty of room between ass, face, and ceiling.

In between my first and second stay at Minoo, my boyfriend, Stef, and I stayed at a place we found on AirBnB. I’ve used AirBnB a lot, I’m not going to go back and count how many times but I started using it about two years ago, and it has been a pretty nice game changer. I have had one negative experience in my new stomping grounds, NL, which was a pretty sad moment for me. Nevertheless, if you haven’t already used AirBnB before, contact me and I will send you a link that will benefit me.

This was a good idea. It was a bit further from the typical touristic sites but it really gives you a glimpse of the city. And actually it helped me understand the city more. It’s a pretty accessible city, the trams seem to go almost anywhere. From where we stayed it took about 30 minutes via tram to get to the Szchényi Baths and the park that surrounds it, as well as Hero’s Square, and the Hungarian Museum. I think we stayed around Budapest 15 but I really can’t remember. We were both sick the three (maybe four?) days that we stayed there, so we didn’t really get to know the terrain to much, but from what we did see the non-central Budapest is still pretty great.

The reason I choose AirBnB so often, aside from the fact that it’s cheaper than a room for two at a hotel/hostel, is that you get to interact with people from the country you’re touristing in and, odds are, they’re going to be at least somewhat likeminded to you. Our host even offered the whole flat (at a higher price, of course) if we preferred more privacy (which I think is super nice), but we chose a shared studio because I have this feeling that if you really want to get to know the city you’re better off getting to know the locals. I won’t get too far into my philosophy on that right now, but it has been beneficial. Our host was super cool, really interesting to talk to and to get to know as a person.

Your host can tell you things that maybe a typical hotel or hostel worker can’t, they can gage your personality a bit more and help you out because, after all, they aren’t doing this “just for work” as a normal hotel/hostel concierge is, they’re just cool people who rent out their flat and, probably, are often travelers too. For example, a host from AirBnB may be able to tell you about the weird quirks of the city, or the culture, cool or underground clubs to check out, the less-seen less-known side of the city.

Also, hosts can be pretty cool in and of themselves. Our host this time was a world-traveler, photographer, and Latin dancer – amongst other things- with all sorts of beautiful interests ranging from psychology, meditation, to politics, which of course led to a whole wide range of conversation between us three, well four on the days when her boyfriend was there. And she has a cat! That’s the easy access to my heart, my favorite AirBnB host (that’s you Marissa if you ever read this!) also had a cat, it’s kind of a statement piece, a small note about who you are as a person. [I’m not going to write about the host too much because I feel that’s kind of faux pas but if she reads this and would like me to mention her name just message me and I will come back and edit this.]

And so, we had another successful AirBnB experience. After that we went a little bit closer and also a little bit further from central Budapest and stayed in a cheap hotel with shared bathrooms. It was not very nice. I used my faithful booking website Agoda (I know it’s the same as Booking.com but after being screwed over twice by Booking I just refuse to use it).

My boyfriend says he things Hungary was cheaper maybe ten years ago, but now the €20-30 range just doesn’t get you the same as it once did. Saved for AirBnB, even a private room in the hostel was out of budget for two cheap-o’s like us. This place was about 25 USD, the walls were dirty (and not in the dirty but actually clean way, just in the dirty grimey way), the bed was clean for sure but it still looked dirty, really everything was stained in one way or another, covered in dust, possibly mold, in short.. it was gross. The wifi didn’t work from the bedroom so we had to sit at this tiny kitchen table at the end of the hall so we could talk to our family and friends and download a movie to watch for later, giving us the added luxury of hearing the goings ons in everyone’s bedrooms. We took a mild day tour of the surrounding area on moped solely because the place was too dirty and too small to hang out in for the whole day. It was a nice area and we met this really rare human who worked in L.A. often, really loved the U.S., selling gold and jewelry or something. A rare find but definitely worth it.

 

After this we returned, with glee, to Minoo and continued to meet wonderful people and, this time, my beau was there to share in the magic. We then spent three days camping at Lake Balaton, which is a four hour moped drive for him or a two hour train ride + one hour layover for me from Budapest. The cost was about €15/night for the spot, which is a bit pricy as far as campgrounds go, creating tough competition against the warm beds and clean showers of a hostel. The lake was definitely beautiful and worth a visit, though it is pretty massive and there’s not much in between so if you don’t have your own mode of transportation I do suggest you find one because the surrounding areas are worth exploring, far more than we did in our stay. So that’s actually four different accommodation types in Hungary. Three in Budapest, one in Lake Balaton.

 

The reason I call these all “where not to stay” is because Budapest, to me (others have disagreed) is a beautifully non-touristic city. Yes, it has its tourist parts but its nothing compared to other cities. I do hope that you find this helpful and ask that you not be a tourist to these places. I want the people that read this to experience the beauty that I do when I visited Budapest and that can’t be accomplished if it becomes overrun by careless tourists. Please love this city as I have, visit it, love it, but do not be a tourist in it.

 

harmony, peace, love,

Julie

 

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