It takes a rare balance of historical expertise and modern style to create a new public establishment with genuine vintage appeal, but fortunately more and more spots that cater to old-fashioned fanatics are continually opening around Budapest. For die-hard romantics and for those who feel like they were born in the wrong era, all of these confectioneries, restaurants, and boutiques offer much more than just antiques and retro signage – at these places, a total vintage lifestyle can be achieved here in Hungary’s capital.
First things first, there are big differences between shabby chic and real vintage. While shabby takes inspirations from the past and creates something new from it, vintage truly means appreciating the unadultered beauty of the previous eras. Hard-core vintage places don’t stop at taking inspirations from the ’20s or the ’60s, but exclusively feature items are from their chosen era – if we take the term seriously. So unless they actually are decades old (and thus are expensive or falling apart), clothes, furniture, accessories, and other items don’t count as vintage, they are retro (even though the definition of the latter term is continually changing in Hungary). The same goes for distressed furniture that was recently decorated with age-old techniques – that isn’t vintage but is shabby chic, which is a new form of interior design. Taking all of this into consideration, here are some top tips:
Erdős és fiai Cukrászda
The newest addition to Vintage Garden is just a few steps away from it: The Sweet, a bite-sized place serving macarons, ice cream, milkshakes, and healthy cakes and biscuits. As for the interior design, you can expect the same as at its sister eatery: they care about every detail, from the design of the small boxes to the attentive staff. Pretty and sweet, just like their cookies.
The confectionery of Norbert Erdős and his wife is nothing less than legendary in Budapest. Ice-cream fanatics travel half an hour every day just to get a lick of their specialties made with apricot jam, Pilóta biscuits, or vanilla rings. Tradition meets with modern, contemporary confections here, as you can find mignons and creamy pastry as well as new-wave mousses and mini-tarts on the menu. The interior design is a bit shabby, just enough to make us feel even better than the sweets do.
Ludovika VNTG Shop
Cydonia might be the only 100% vintage zone of the city. The boutique was born out of love and lifestyle, and as we wander around in the shop, we can find true rarities that really come from the ’20s-’60s. Classic Chanel tweed pieces, pocket watches, flyers from the Paris of the ’30s, medication bottles, soaps – every shelf is like a treasure chest. Stepping into Viola’s boutique feels like time-traveling or visiting a museum, but where you can buy everything. Discounts and thematic afternoons are often hosted here, so it pays out to keep an eye on their Facebook page. If you are walking down on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Road, turn onto Hajós Street, as Cydonia Vintage is a very special world.
It’s not only Jude Law and other celebrities who love the unique clothes and accessories of Ludovika, but also those Budapest girls who’d like to combine their fast-fashion pieces with something special. The store at Rumbach Sebestén Street has many original vintage clothes, but of course, pieces from the ’70s-’90s can be also found here – that’s why their stock is so colorful. It’s worth saving up for a special piece that you know you’ll wear for a long time, because they come from the past, they are in good condition, and in 2015 they are cooler than ever.
Social spots for vintage addicts
Some people need a community to fully live the vintage way of life; after all, people with the same addictions think alike, and they can worship the mixture of beauty and the past together. Sadly, this subculture is underrepresented in Budapest – you can find more followers in nearly every other Western city. But still, we have to mention the Tweed Run, a vintage bicycle procession (the next time it will take place will be on September 19), and the Keep Swingin’ dance group, who are world-class Charleston dancers. Members of both communities know a lot about vintage, and at both places, you can meet people who dedicate all of their free time to this time-warping way of life.