Once upon a time, a shack balanced on a rooftop in the city centre sold overpriced drinks to those who wanted a top class view of Egyetem Tér and the iconic Egyetemi Templom’s dual spires.
With little in the way of protection from the elements, Tip Top bar didn’t survive Central Europe’s harsh and touristless winters, and closed after just a couple of seasons.
But with such a fantastic location, it wasn’t abandoned for long. The Rum Hotel bought up the building and opened a highly-rated boutique city centre hotel, and spent some time working to fix everything that was wrong with Tip Top.
They installed a lift, which takes you from the ground floor all the way up, rather than winding your way up a 150-step spiral staircase. They installed very clever sliding windows, which in summer can be folded almost completely out of the way to let the fresh air in, but in winter mean that the bar can be heated.
They brought their eye for style to the inner decor of the bar – changing up Tip Top’s palettes and chalkboards for comfortable sofas and luxurious wood.
In fact, the only area where they didn’t make improvements was on price. Top Rum is incredibly expensive, even for a city centre bar.
A gin and tonic will set you back 3000 HUF or so, and a draft beer (korsóval, of course) will make you weep at 1250 HUF. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a rarity to find Asahi on tap in Hungary, but considering that Asahi own the Dreher brewery, whether it’s worth the eye-watering increase is a question you’ll need to square away with yourself before you spend a month’s salary on an evening out.
The ‘sharing concept tapas barfood’ is priced as pretentiously as it is named, with sky-high prices and underwhelming portions. A portion of aubergine spread on toast or an ‘olive selection’ will cost you more than 2500 HUF, and will leave your stomach thinking your throat’s been cut. A proposed menu ‘for two’ will set you back 18 700 HUF, which works out at around 11 hours’ work each for employees earning Hungary’s national minimum wage (or half a day’s work for employees earning the average salary in Hungary). That said, it is tasty.
Although the location is beautiful, and the decor is stylish and chic, I just can’t justify to myself saying that it’s value for money. It’s not.
Does that mean I’ll never go again? No. But for sure not at the end of the month.