🛳🍾🛁 👯♂️ As soon as we arrived in Budapest, I felt more relaxed (the generous G & T’s…and proseccs on the plane may have helped) it felt we’d picked a winner of a location and could just crack on with the weekend’s aghenda. Aside from the indirect demand that we leave the country, the hen only had one other specific order – ‘Sophie, I just don’t want a stripper. Do NOT get me a stripper’. I’ll just mention that my Mum used to say to me ‘I want never gets’…as b2b would learn, the opposite is also true.
As well as obviously getting suitably ‘Pest’, we also wanted to appeal to the hen’s geek streak and try and soak up some culture whilst we were there as well. This meant that we managed to straddle ‘completely civilised’ and ‘completely uncivilised’ over the weekend. Some of the highlights are below:
Szimpla Kert Ruins Bar
Address: Kazinczy utca 14, Budapest 1075, Hungary (open daily, until late)
Anyone that had been to Budapest before (and TripAdvisor who reckon it’s the No.1 Nightligfe attraction in Budapest) told us to go here and we followed their advice…twice. in one day. We went there for drinks as soon as we arrived, ticking off our first cultural point on the agenda by having the hen knock back a shot of pálinka (a typical Hungarian shot – sort of like a fruity brandy) on entry. Beware, of having too many of these – it’s quite potent and will blow those light-up willy earrings right off.
Once you’ve gotten over the prices (it’s so cheap, it’s scary), you’ll realise you’re already probably quite merry. Szimpla Kert wasn’t completely taken over by tourists, some locals next gave us a warm welcome, but there was a very generous smattering of stag with only a ‘hint of hen’. If you’re not the bride to be and are one of the single hens – this is kert-ainly a great place to head if you’re on the pull (word of warning: just avoid the Stag, he’s probably the one that’s been dressed in the nylon wedding dress since Gatwick). Drinks and potential szimpla snogging aside, this bar as the names suggest is one of the most famous of Budapest’s renowned ‘Ruins Bars’. An eclectic junkyard of old, new, weird and wonderful, you really have to see it to appreciate it. We had a few ‘bar snacks’ as well – they sound a bit random, but they’re great. The chicken and the cheese salad were the perfect antidote to our missed lunch and lined the stomachs just the right amount. No hen, stag or visit for that matter to Budapest would be complete without at least one trip here. Even two visits will leave you Hungary (lol) for more.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Address: H-1146 Budapest, XIV. kerület Állatkerti körút 9-11 (open daily, until 10pm)
We originally debated going here on Saturday night to experience one of the infamous Budapest ‘SPArty’s’. That said, the ‘sausage-fest-bodily-fluids-everywhere’ style reviews put us off (still have a look on Instagram, they look incredible). We did want to go to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths though, if only for a cool dip out of the 33 degree heat. We headed there, a little delicate obviously, on Saturday afternoon, feeling culturally optimistic in light of it being the largest medicinal baths in Europe. We’d pre-booked tickets (about £30 each) for 15 of us and with our booking print-out, all of us got given a locker key/fob thing and directed down to the changing rooms really quickly (defs book before you go – some travel sites also offer skip-the-line Spa entry and a dinner river cruise). I’ve always been more “book clever, socially stupid” and the changing rooms presented some practical challenges for me: my friend asked why I was trying to fasten my locker fob round my ankle when everyone had them round the wrists. I guess I just like my feet. Then actually figuring out how to lock the locker with the fob was a bit of a minefield. Once successfully sorted out (by my minders friends) we headed up to the Baths and given the July weather, opted for the cold one.
If you want to swim, you have to wear a swimming cap/any hat actually and we had a lol at a couple of the gals donning their sexy red caps and getting involved. A local youth orchestra were playing at the side of the pool. It was a bit of a change from our last ‘pool party’ – Miss Dynamite and Tinie Tempah at Ushuaia in Ibiza – but absolutely brilliant. I’m thinking of taking up the Triangle as a professional hobby. We stayed in the pool for an hour or two and some explored the indoor saunas and Jacuzzis before heading down to the changing room. Handy tip here – when you finally figure out how to lock your locker, remember where it is and what number it is…then you don’t need to spend ages searching for it and trying your luck with other people’s . Word of warning, the showers aren’t for the prudish – there’s a no door policy (as opposed to open door) and anything but full nudity seems somewhat inapprops.
New York Café
Address: Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073 Hungary (open daily 8am – Midnight)
The late July sunshine dries you off from the Spa pretty quickly and after a quick make-up refresh c/o world famous M’s Salon, we dried our hair en route to Afternoon Tea at the New York Café which bills itself as ‘the most beautiful café in the world’. It may well be found guilty of tooting its own horn, but it’s not far wrong. At the turn of the 20th century the New York Café (New York Kávéház) was the most beautiful and as history tells it, the most beloved café in Budapest. It has a history almost as illustrious as its’ décor and in the interest of time, we’ll fast forward to 2006 when it was restored to its former splendour.
It’s not a place for plastic penises perhaps, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The staff are warm and friendly and with the ornate gold columns and intricate painted ceilings, there’s no room for stuffiness. There is happily however, plenty of room for cakes, champagne, chocolate and typical Hungarian pastries. They offer a very reasonable champagne afternoon tea menu which we pre-booked a couple of weeks before heading over. You leave feeling satisfied but not sick and a little on that lovely woozy drunk-but-not-hammered feeling you get after being on the bubbles. We headed back to the apartment after – some opted to have a Disco Naps and some started to get ready for the evening ahead which held the promise of being a lot less civilised, but no less brilliant.
So back to the apartment we had gone for some organised fun (Mr. & Mrs/Hen video premiere). We then set off around 9.30pm for our boat trip. In the style of Buz Luhrmann: If I could recommend one thing to do in Budapest, whether you’re on a hen do or note, this would be it. We hired a boat just for us and also extended the invitation to a male ‘dancer’ who joined us for half an hour or so at the end. The boat was ma-hoo-sive. A split level boat, we had our own bar downstairs, took control of the music and danced on the deck (some of us, in just our knickers) to what felt like our own private Fireworks show in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building. You see what I mean with achieving simultaneous cultured & debauched: watching a pyrotechnics masterclass light up the sky in front of an iconic European landmark whilst dancing on the deck of your own boat….to Sisqo’s THONG SONG. It simply DOES not get better than that.
We booked this through Hen Nation and whilst I’d had reservations (no pun intended) that it might be a bit on the tacky side, it was everything we wanted and more. It was reasonable, the boat was the size of a small cruise ship and the bar was well stocked. Well, I say it was everything we wanted. We all wanted most of it – the bride could have done without our dancer. We stopped for a ‘refuel’ (aka the stripper joining us on board) and the bride didn’t appear to clock on despite us only being on the boat for an hour (hardly worthy of more fuel) and the stripper-collective Hot Chocolate/Genuwine playlist blasting out on the upper deck. Cue an excellently timed dropping of 10 glasses aperol spritz’s (thanks Esme) we said to the bride, we needed to head downstairs whilst they cleared up the shards. Downstairs we headed and then we were joined by our dancer – boxing along to Eye of The Tiger in a silky dressing gown (and with the groom’s face mask on). Needless to say, some loved it…the bride hated it. Everyone remembers it. For better or worse until death do us part.
And so there you have it…from riches to being ruined with a ‘refuel’ in between…you and your hens can’t really go wrong in Budapest.
Finally, it’s definitely worth me mentioning the Dionysos Taverna where we had dinner on the first night. We were very fortunate to make it to dinner after the taxi driver parked the car on an incline, nobly leapt out of the car to let the ladies out of the back…without remembering that the handbrake existed. Thank God I’m so practical is all I’ll say. Anyone, safely in the Taverna for some fabulous Greek food (great for big groups sharing) washed down with copious amounts of Rosé- much needed between visits to Szimpla Kert. It’s located right on the Danube river and the toilets also have some very jazzy ‘automatic’ features…if that’s not enough to entice you, I don’t know what is. Book a table here: email@example.com