A scene pops up in abandoned buildings, and glamour rises.
From Castle Hill to Heroes’ Square, Budapest is renowned for its grandeur. But in areas blighted by poverty and neglect, a surging bohemian culture revels in the wreckage at “ruin pubs.” Originating in the scruffy old Jewish quarter downtown, these bars occupy abandoned buildings and their courtyards, hosting hipsters quaffing German and Czech beers while reclining on cast-off furniture amid haphazard flea market finds.
Szimpla Kertepitomizes the “romkocsma” (“ruin pub”) movement, which has exploded beyond the district to encompass not just vacant lots, but rooftop bars such as Corvintet, which bills itself as an underground club in the open air.
Not all of Budapest’s historic buildings are celebrated for their distress, of course. The Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace, opening in summer 2011, will occupy a vintage 1900 former palace, with 102 rooms and a branch of the Paris-famed Buddha-Bar glassed in on the roof.
Budapest will also be easier reach once American Airlines begins daily nonstops from Kennedy International Airport on April 5. Those flights will land at the new international terminal at Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, which opens March 27 with a 60-foot-high glass atrium filled with new restaurants, shops and bars.
— ELAINE GLUSAC