Szimpla Kert: a ruin pub in Budapest

After satisfying my 30 year-old granny heart with an afternoon at the opera, I was determined to act my age for once and step out for some of Budapest’s famed nightlife. Budapest is known for its ruin pubs, and being the pioneer of the ruin pub scene, Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden) in the 7th district is the most famous of them all.

Szimpla Kert ext

A ruin pub is essentially an abandoned building taken over and converted into a pub, or bar, with its own open-air garden and a lineup of music, film, theater and other community events.

Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert is huge, but somehow manages to retain a cozy feeling. Maybe it’s the constant buzz, the mood lighting or the black-and-white archive footage projected on the crumbling brick wall of its open-air courtyard.

Szimpla Kert archive projection

There are also lots of little rooms, each with its own assortment of quirks and surprises, all wrapped up in one gritty, derelict, retro-tinged package.

I can imagine one of the rooms being an alternative conference room for a creative meeting, or a fun little place for a pop-up dinner party with friends. I know my friends would love it because there’s Disney-themed art on the walls, although a bit on the deranged side.

Szimpla Kert room and art

Mismatched chairs fill cozy corners…

Szimpla Kert chairs

and repurposed junk (clawfoot tub as loveseat? Brilliant!) make it a casual, random, eclectic place to hang out.

Szimpla Kert bathtub loveseat

I loved that nobody at Szimpla Kert seemed to be checking out anyone else’s outfits, poking into anyone else’s business, looking down their nose at tourists, or thinking that the girl sipping nothing stronger than a lemon soda *ahem* was any less cool. I love a place that’s cool but not “too cool for you.”

I also loved the fact that we happened upon some seriously awesome music while we were there. The Szukitett Quartet plays beautiful, honest and totally rocking music on cello, violin and percussions.

Szukitett Quartet at Szimpla Kert

That evening they had a special guest, Lantos Zoltan, who joined their lead violinist in some mighty bad-ass shredding—the kind that leaves you shaking your head and holding your breath while waiting for violin strings to snap. So glad I didn’t miss out on this.

Lantos Zoltan at Szimpla Kert

I had a few brief clubbing days in another life, but the eclectic, casual vibe of a ruin pub like Szimpla Kert just makes nightlife so much—well, easier and more fun. Wouldn’t you agree?

Szimpla Kert
Kazinczy utca 14
District VII, Budapest
Daily from noon till 3am
+36 1 3524198

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