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Retox Party Hostel – Your Budapest Party HQs

Remember all those Eurotrips you saw in movies, and dreamed of experiencing ever since? Never-ending parties, cheap alcohol, drinking games, kissing strangers, lifelong friends (with names you don’t remember), nudity (lots of it), unchecked gregariousness and everything else? Well, that pretty much sums up my experience at Retox, a place that became home in a week’s time. By now, many of you know, I spend my birthday in a new country every year. This year, my quest was special – I was turning 25. Although scary in one way, it also felt like a cause for celebration. A cursory search for the best party hostels in the world, and one name seemed to feature heavily – RETOX PARTY HOSTEL!

A peek at a couple of reviews, and pictures, and my decision was already made. I was going to turn 25, and not remember most of it. Retox Party Hostel is part of the notorious Budapest Party Hostels clan! Budapest is (famously) one of the cheapest cities in Europe to drink in [Read: Budapest, the Cheapest City for Alcoholic Drinks]. Naturally, the city is renowned for its party scene, with Budapest Party Hostels, at the forefront of all that debauchery!

The Arrival

My initiation to Budapest was smoother than I’d have imagined! I arrived at the airport after a nasty little 6 hour layover in Zurich. Six hours is right on point for being the worst time slot for a layover, because it’s too long to spend in the airport, and too short to get out and get back in! I spent most of my time munching on disgusting airport sandwiches, fulfilling the stereotype of a brown-guy window-shopping at Duty Free, and frequenting the airport’s many smoking lounges. At Budapest Airport, I stepped off the carousel a little apprehensive, because though I had directions to the hostel, I had no local currency and no local sim-card for GPS.

Expert Tip: The local currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). Exchange rates at the airports as expected are abysmal. Thanks to a tip-off from my hostel, I only changed enough for public transport to the city, where you can change your currency for a much better rate!

Right outside the airport, you can take a bus to Kobanya Kispest, which is the closest metro stop. A couple of changes, and a tram later, I was safely at my hostel – the directions from the hostel were so specific, that I didn’t have to ask around once to find my way 😀

Retox Party Hostel – The House Rules

I showed up at the hostel early in the evening, around 5ish. The moment I stepped into the colorful labyrinth that opens into the infamous Retox Bar downstairs, I knew my life was about to change for ever! My friend Spaz greeted me, checked me in, and explained the house rules. I was only half-listening, because my attention was more focused on a bunch of his mates in the background, engaged in a game which I later discovered to be ‘strawpedos’. The hostel takes care to set expectations straight even before you pay. Retox Party Hostel is practically no holds barred:

  • late/loud nights – 
  • drunk roomies – 
  • dorm-room sex – 
  • calls for shots for anything & everything inconsequential (even something as plain as waking up first) – 
  • pointless masculine (and in Retox’s case, even feminine) one up-manship – 
  • squeaky beds – 
  • dudes/dudettes passed out in their own (or worse still, somebody else’s puke) – 

Technically speaking, the only four rules at Retox are:

  • zero drug tolerance (no kidding! Hungary is super-strict with drug control)
  • no outside drinks in the bar downstairs
  • smoke-free zone upstairs on account of fire dept. regulations
  • don’t be an asshole

I agreed to all of the above and signed a form (no kidding!) stating this! HA! I then decided to take a shower to wash off the airport grime, and contemplate on what is easily the most bizarre set of rules ever explained to me.

Rooms & Common Areas

The decor at Retox Party Hostel is incredibly bold and witty! I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking here, but just to add some context, allow me to explain the Retox cult – something I believe strongly binds its people together. This is a hostel frequented, and loved by that peculiar subset of people which often gets labelled as ‘hippies’ in mainstream media/culture. To quote one of the beautiful people that lives and works here, Retox seems to attract a line of misfits. People who can’t seem to relate to mainstream life. People that celebrate their quirkiness, borderline alcoholism and are very comfortable in their sexuality. Most importantly, this is a place that loves and accepts you for what you are, with minimal judgement.

This is plentiful evident in its vivid decor and room names. One particular room, called the ‘Love Dungeon’ is dominated by a very detailed, (and imaginative) piece of graffiti. It details a well made vagina, and an army of little mystical men and women, guiding a gigantic cock right into it! Every room is assigned a ‘dorm-buddy’, who is introduced to you in the form of innovative (and suggestive) language.

Retox Party Hostel

“Let’s Get Weird…” – pretty much the unofficial anthem at Retox

Bunk beds are basic, and expect bodies, clothes, shoes and luggage to be strewn all over! Having said that, the rooms and bathrooms are ridiculously clean, given the shit that goes down in this place. Big thumbs-up to the cleaning team for this! I’m very liberal and tolerant with living conditions, but the one thing I can’t stand is dirty bathrooms, and Retox exceeds expectations on this front. The common room-cum-kitchen is basic, but once again, vibrantly lit up with graphic and detailed graffiti. There’s also a life-size city-map, and a legends board, which details all past and current members of the intimate Retox family! All rooms and common areas are on the first level, with the famous bar occupying the downstairs section.

Staff & Events

My time at Retox and in Budapest for that matter, was made unforgettable by the brilliant crop of people here! I’m not the most social person in the world, even at my gregarious best (as I discovered on this trip), but since the moment I stepped foot inside Retox Party Hostel, I was made to feel at home every breathing moment. Not once did this happen in the form of a “is everything comfortable for you?”

Retox Party Hostel

What do you do when you find leftover Unis from a Stag Party? You make your own Crew, of course!

Retox Party Hostel, Budapest

I’m not sure what those poses are meant to be anymore…

All of my buddies at the hostel, starting with Cosmo, who gave me the best of pre-arrival tips and even offered to knock my price down when he learned it was my birthday, have become friends for life. Also a big shout-out to Spaz, Loaf, Beagle and Yoyo – all of whom are some of the most socially intelligent people I’ve met and ensured I had the time of my life.

Budapest Party Hostels, Retox

My man Loaf, proving beyond doubt that alcohol is never an acceptable excuse for lack of creativity or enthusiasm!

The highlight at Retox Party Hostel, despite all this madness, is easily their well-thought out weekly events. Sure, there’s always a bunch of twats readily available for a game of flip-pong, strawpedos, power-hour, or any dumb game that involves thoughtless drinking; but they save the main-event for the nights. No doubts about that! Come dusk, Retox mysteriously begins to attract miscreants like moths to a flame! By nightfall, the bar downstairs is a full-house of majestic, beer-guzzling, debaucherous creatures. Some of the graphic events that take place at Retox on a weekly basis:

i) Alcoholympics – this is a trademark Retox Party Hostel event, and widely known to every self-proclaimed alcoholic in town! What makes it so special? Frankly, nothing – there’s no mysterious, miraculous drinking-game you’ve never heard; but the sheer volume of alcohol involved, and the unbelievable energy of the event really makes it worth a watch.

ii) Jager Train – another flagship event, happens every Sunday, where the good folks line up about a hundred odd Jager bombs, which get dropped simultaneously, before everybody consumes them and loses track of what happens next!

Jager Train, Retox Party Hostel

The Legendary Jager Train has been setup! Disaster Ensues

There’s also incredible events like the Budapest Boat Party, the Sparty, the legendary Budapest pub-crawl and open mic-nights that fill up the calendar for the rest of the week, but I’m going to do a separate post on all of those.

Retox Party Hostel

Not sure what to make of this, really…even I am at a loss of words to explain this!

If alcohol isn’t your only agenda, and you feel somewhat aghast by how blatantly I’ve endorsed drinking in this post, the hostel also arranges for more mainstream activities like free walking tours, caving, visits to shooting ranges, hop-on-hop-off bus tours, etc. Just like everything else, the information is blatantly (and creatively) written on the walls of the facility – all you need do is ask 😉

Atmosphere & Co-Travellers

Retox in itself is an atmosphere. There’s nothing physically extraordinary about this place. What makes it super-popular amongst the more hardcore of the backpacker bunch is its incredible vibe. Retox has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to human interaction – emotion; and they have succeeded superbly in invoking positive emotion amongst its patrons every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment.

Retox Bar, Budapest Party Hostels

Beautiful place, beautiful people, and lots of alcohol – sums up this place!

This is a hostel frequented by stag parties, hen-parties, bachelor-crews, solo-travellers, but most popularly, by misfits, who more or less find a place and a people they can relate to. I am not going to sugar-coat this – Retox Party Hostel isn’t a place for everybody; it isn’t even a place for the ‘elite’, but if your objective is to drink, mingle with some of the most free-spirited and open-minded people you’ll ever meet and forge friendships that owe a lot to alcohol, sex and mostly inappropriate humor, then this is a place you can easily call home!

Retox Party Hostel, Budapest

The Legendary Retox Crew…”Let’s Get Weird, Lads!”

One of the most popular reviews on Retox’s TA page is titled ‘Re-born at Retox’. I’m not going to claim this person read my mind! I don’t even feel reborn at Retox; but in my time here, I did feel like I belonged. Back home, I often get labelled a ‘hippie’. Sometimes, I feel out of place. The number of times I’ve casually been told I’m more European than Indian is ridiculous! There was a time when this offended me in some small way, deep down inside; but now I feel at home with it.

Perhaps my identity is not tied to my nationality. Maybe it isn’t even tied to the place I now live in or will live in at any point in the future. Perhaps it is tied to a more intimate entity – maybe it’s tied to the wonderful family that calls or has called places like Retox, home. I know I can’t live this life on a daily basis – not because it isn’t sustainable (well, that too – I do have a liver, after all), but I know that this is a part of the world that I can always come back to and feel at home in, for the rest of my life 🙂

Thank you for an unforgettable (the pun in this should NOT be lost) birthday, you weirdos at Retox! I know I’m coming back again to get weird with you beautiful people! I take your leave now, by mooching off a super video, that really captures the Retox vibe (this is what happens when a travel blogger travels without a decent camera).

Book the Time of your Life with Retox Right Now, Right Here!

68 comments

  1. Looks like you’re having so much fun, isn’t it?

  2. Definitely not my style, but intresting to know about this kind of hostels 🙂

  3. I loved your post, it looks like you had a great time at the hostel! Budapest is one of my favourite cities in Europe, I’m glad to enjoyed it.

    By the way, funny enough I also spend my birthday in a different place every year. Last year was Venice, this year will be St. Petersburg. Glad to see I’m not the only one out there doing this 🙂

    • mm

      hi5 on that birthday pact, Alberto! Loved Budapest too, but I think I’ll make another trip some day – I really didn’t get the time to explore a lot of things I wanted to amidst all that cyclonic drinking!

  4. Happy belated birthday! This sounds like my kind of nightmare but it looks like you had a blast!

  5. Not my kind of place but happy for you that you’ve found a place where you can be yourself without it being about your nationality. People do tend to generalize, I think, lumping someone into the generalized concept/idea based on where that person happened to be born.

  6. I have to say that I am not a fan of party hostels. I used to manage one on Bucharest and the things I have seen happening behind closed door…. never want to see again, haha. 🙂

    • mm

      HAHAHA! I hear you, I hear you! I know what you’re saying – I have seen some pretty wild things in a week, so I can imagine your state; I loved my time here, but I don’t think I’d if I had to live and clean this place for an extended period 😛

  7. Good gracious!!!!! I think I am an old lady! This would not be for me not at all. OMG. The noise alone would kill me. This is just too wild for me, LOL. I can see why it would be appealing and it might have been appealing to me in my late teens or early 20’s but now no, I like peace and quiet. Budapest is great and that smile on your face and on Loaf’s face is precious!

  8. The photo of the front of the Retox Party Hostel looks like something in a movie! This hostel reminds me of ones in Thailand around the islands.

  9. Though this looks like my own personal nightmare, I understand how it may be appealing for some people. It looks like you had a great time! And Happy Birthday =)

  10. Wow that’s some kind of wild experience…very different and unique. Did not come across a post like this before. 🙂

  11. I think once upon a time I would have reveled in a place like this.

    As a single young thing I could see the endless appeal.

    Now as a mid 30 something ‘old’ man, I pass the flame to you my friend 😉

    Happy 25th birthday, you seem to remember more of it than I expected!

  12. Wow! Not into party hostels at all…but if you had a good time & felt safe more power to you.

  13. This is kind of eye opener for me! the happenings are crazy there!!! I have never been at a hostel… probably that is why this surprised me.

  14. I must say this looks like a very cool place . Would love to visit it sometime.

  15. These are the types of Hostels that I avoid. I just feel there is so much more to a city that Partying in a Hostel, what about the Clubs and the Pubs? And I like a Hostel where I can get a good nights Sleep. It looks like you enjoyed your time and that is the main thing.

    • mm

      Generally, I’d agree with you, but I took a chance this time and it really paid off. We did also spend a LOT of time partying outside the hostel. The ruin pubs in particular were a real experience.

  16. Despite your page crashing my flashplayer, I trudged on until the end of the article, just to see what happens. Nice subject and good idea for a story.

  17. Omg this looks crazy!!! Hahaha how fun, I’m digging the photo of the men on the pole! I usually like some place more mellow but this looks fun.

    • mm

      I solemnly swear, I still don’t know what they were up to! There was this moment where a bunch of them looked at it, just started stripping and made a right, old dash for it! Was absolutely bizarre, and incredibly entertaining! LOL

  18. The time spent in the hostel seems to be indeed a blast. I can see you guys having a great time. Hostels are places that thrive on camaraderie and bonhomie. Great to see travelers united by places like these.

  19. This was an awesome read and super captivating. As a fellow weirdo, I can definitely relate to having to deal with others perception on how I should behave. Budapest sounds like a wicked way to celebrate just about anything in life!

  20. Alright. Ticket booked. I need this in my life. Thanks for sharing this!

  21. This is hilarious! Brings me back to my (brief) party hostel days when I was in college. But I can say this sounds like it would have been way out of my league. Glad you had an awesome birthday!

  22. WOW! – Seems like they have it sorted, not my kinda place (I like my sleep) but for a few nights…YUP I could handle it just fine 😛 …

  23. We have done enough night outs and parties but this sounds much freaky and quirky! Good that you found your kind and had a great time on your special day.

  24. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog and its posts! So informative, extremely helpful and well structured. Thanks for sharing!

  25. This definitely sounds like a birthday party to remember! It is always nice going to a place where you are able to make such great friends.

  26. I recently stayed at some (non-party hostels) in Europe and while I’m glad I had the experience, it taught me that I prefer to have a private room to de-stress after a long day of travel. This was definitely a fun hostel to read about, but I’m not sure I would enjoy staying there.

    • mm

      oh absolutely, Stella! I wouldn’t ever say hostels are for everybody. Some people totally like their space and silence, and that I appreciate, because I’m like that when I’m back home and not travelling. Having said that, there’s so many benefits to living at a hostel, that maybe you’d like to take a private room at a hostel some day and see if that becomes your preferred mode of stay 😉

  27. Happy belated birthday and looks like you had so much blast out there!

  28. Blair Villanueva

    though its not my cup of tea, it seems that this hotel gives you a tremendous hella of fun! Perfect for bachelors’ party! Great and very entertaining reads 🙂

  29. I think more people like me who feel liberated but constraint at times should go here. The place just smells like good beer, conversation and laughs and I feel like the place is full of same mindsets. Great review, I’m willing to visit the place with some friends right this moment!

  30. This is a really helpful article! Unfortunately, I’m not much of a party animal, but maybe it’s time to try something new!

  31. Seriously? This exists in real life? Not only in movies?!
    I used to party that hard in Amsterdam years ago but I never knew that Budapest is also a great place for perties. I missed a lot hahahahaha

  32. This is certainly not my scene, but this post makes it all look like so much fun, I’d like to see it unfold before my eyes. Looks like tons of fun and craziness.

    • mm

      Alina, I actually met so many people who said they’d never normally stay at a place like this, but really wanted to after they saw the scene unfold downstairs in the bar!

  33. Fun place to be if you are into such kind of places. I personally will love this place as I am open to all kinds of travel experiences

  34. Wow…that is a wild wild wicked birthday. Seems like you had a lot of fun and I am sure it has given you memories for life. Thanks for sharing it. I had fun reading about it.

  35. It is one of these places I just would want to stay once to see if it really is as crazy as it sounds..seems like a place where you can find great stories ;D

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