Last updated: 30 April 2020
When I sat down to write this post, I had no intention of writing the whole thing about one hostel. Like all my other destination posts, I wanted to share my experiences of a new place in the hopes of inspiring other solo travellers to go there.
And I am still planning on doing that.
However, my Budapest trip was largely shaped by the hostel I stayed in – Retox Party Hostel – and so I decided to dedicate an entire post to it in an attempt to explain just why Retox is one of the craziest hostels out there, and definitely one of the best hostels in Budapest.
I have stayed at many a party hostel in my time (and even worked in a couple) and so I am familiar with hordes of drunk backpackers acting like idiots. I’m usually one of them.
However, Retox Party Hostel is a different kettle of fish.
Retox is truly a place where there are no limits. On check-in, a member of staff will sit you down on one of the threadbare kitchen sofas and ask you if you know what you’re getting yourself into.
‘You know this is a party hostel right?’
‘Um…yeah? That’s kinda why I booked it?’
‘No, you don’t understand. We are not like other party hostels. You have to be prepared to see any kind of bodily fluid at any given moment.’
And then you sign a disclaimer to confirm you understand this.
Yeah, A DISCLAIMER.
So, what is so crazy about Retox? Are the Retox Party Hostel stories all true? Why did I extend my time at Retox from 4 to 10 days and still not want to leave?!
Retox Party Hostel Budapest – The Craziest Hostel in Europe?
Retox Party Hostel – The Vibe
Retox’s mantra is ‘you may never be this free again,’ and it just may be true. No matter what time of day it is, people will be doing shots of palinka (basically rakija), playing drinking games, looking homeless and probably being sick but nobody will be batting an eyelid.
The staff (who are almost certainly drunker than most of the guests), do a great job of making sure everyone has a great time and the bottom line is that everybody who checks into Retox Party Hostel is wanting to make friends, get wasted and make bad decisions – in fact, if the guys at Retox care about one thing more than getting drunk, they care about every single one of their guests feeling at home and accepted. It doesn’t matter whether you were the popular kid or the nerd at school – you will be welcomed into the Retox family with open arms, and Retox is truly a judgement free zone.
Retox themselves say ‘we can’t promise you the best night’s sleep, but we can promise you is a home of complete inclusivity to all the alcoholics and wanderers out there,’ and that just about sums up the whole ethos of Retox Party Hostel.
While you may get some sightseeing done during your Budapest trip, Retox is not there to book fancy excursions for you or tell you where the best museums in Budapest are. They will happily sort you out with Sparty tickets or a beer bike trip, but that’s about as cultured as you’re going to get.
Retox Party Hostel is housed in an old courtyard building covered in graffiti and street art. The courtyard itself is actually a backpacker’s bar (one of Budapest’s famous ruin bars!) where you will find guests and staff (who are all backpackers themselves) doing shots and chugging beers at every hour of the day.
To the left of the main bar area is the ‘Peep Show’ room with a wraparound couch, stage and stripper pole. I didn’t see any strip shows happen when I was staying at Retox, but they do hold the Alcoholympics and Jager Train in here (more on that later).
To the right of the bar is another room that has a huge table inside which is used for beer pong and flip cup and there is always somebody playing.
The upstairs area of Retox is where you will find the computer room (which nobody ever uses), dorm rooms, bathrooms and kitchen.
The kitchen is actually not as gross as you may expect from a hostel like Retox. They recycle (!), and although it is a little scruffy, it’s generally pretty clean. Guests can help themselves to free eggs and bread at any time of day, which is great if you’re like me and never wake up early enough to make the free hostel breakfasts.
The bathrooms are, again, okay. The shower curtains are grimy, the toilet seats are cracked and you definitely want to be wearing your flip flops when you take a shower, but overall I’ve been in a lot worse. As long as you don’t mind someone loudly vomiting in the stall beside you, you’ll be fine.
As for the rooms, well, they aren’t bad either. I’m not going to lie and say that they have the comfiest beds in the world (pretty much all of them are broken in some way), but they’re fine. Every door has a lock on it that can only be opened by the other people in your room, which helps to make up for the fact that the lockers probably don’t work (when I was at Retox, some drunk guy came in and tore off all the locker doors in a fit of – rage? idk).
Overall, Retox is fine. It is basic, but what do you expect from a place that prides itself on being a total mess? Retox Party Hostel does not care if the shower head is broken. They care about getting wasted and having fun, and if you’re not about that then Retox is probably not the place for you.
There are some rules that Retox Party Hostel asks you to stick to, but they’re pretty basic. Basically don’t bring your own alcohol into the bar, clean up your own shit and don’t be a dick.
Oh, and don’t do drugs. Don’t ask where to buy drugs. Pretend like drugs don’t exist. Hungary is super strict when it comes to drugs (unlike their neighbour Czechia) and understandably they don’t want some idiot backpacker bringing trouble to their doors.
Aside from that, there aren’t many rules.
In fact, quite the opposite – Retox don’t have a checkout time.
Yep. You read that right. There is no checkout time at Retox.
You are free to lay in bed all day until the next guest arrives to check-in, at which point the staff will just ask you to get out of bed and move your stuff while the new guest waits in the kitchen. In over 4 years of staying in hostels, I have never encountered another hostel with this policy, and it’s the best thing ever.
They also don’t insist on kicking you out of your room when it’s time to clean like some hostels do (although the staff will bring a speaker and shots into your room when they come to mop the floors at 10am when you’re hungover so be aware of that).
Retox Party Hostel – The Good Stuff
Let’s be honest, you’re not reading this for a review of Retox Party Hostel’s common areas. I just included them because I’m nice like that.
What you want to know is how crazy it gets at Retox, whether the Retox Party Hostel stories you’ve heard are true and what the parties at Retox are like.
So let’s start with the stories.
If you’re backpacking in Europe (particularly if you’re been to party hostels in Krakow and Prague), chances are you will have heard a lot of rumours about how crazy it gets at Retox. Now, without getting too much into it, I’m here to tell you that the stories you’ve heard about Retox are true and that Retox is a lot wilder than other party hostels in Europe.
Don’t be surprised if you see a staff member projectile vomiting at 10am because they just chugged god knows what or if you wake up to a dude peeing all over your backpack. Definitely don’t be surprised if you see random willies and boobs at moments when you least expect it – it’s all part of the Retox experience.
Another part of the Retox experience are the events. Retox host events every single night aimed at showing you the best of Budapest nightlife and getting you drunker than you’ve ever been before.
Retox Hostel Events
Twice a week Retox take their guests to huge boat parties along the River Danube. One is called Shipwrecked, costs 9000 HUF and comes with unlimited alcohol, and the other is called River Rampage, is 7000 HUF and comes with a bottle of ‘Champagne’ (ie shitty €2 Hungarian Lambrini).
The boat parties are great because as well as getting to dance under the stars on a boat, you get to see all the beautiful buildings of Budapest lit up and looking even more beautiful than they do in the daytime. Not only that but all of the other party hostels in Budapest attend the boat trips so it’s a great way to meet other drunk backpackers.
You also have to kiss someone every time the boat goes under a bridge because…good luck I guess?
When the boat parties finish at around 1am, you get free entry into a nightclub to continue the party.
Every good party hostel has a pub crawl and Retox is no different.
Budapest is famous for its ruin bars, and not only is Retox Party Hostel a ruin bar in itself, but taking part in one of Retox’s FREE pub crawls allows you to see even more of the best ruin bars in Budapest such as Szimpla, Instant and Fogashaz. You also get to party in Retox’s sister hostel Grandio, another cool bar.
Not for the faint hearted, the alcoholympics at Retox are a brutal tournament comprised of various challenges, all involving copious amounts of alcohol.
The other hostels in the Budapest Party Hostel chain (Carpe Noctem, Vitae and Grandio) all pile into the bar at Retox and get into teams to take part on the stage in the Peep Show room, where everybody who is too scared to compete (like me) watches and cheers everybody on.
The alcoholympics are a bloody hilarious night and one of my fave Retox events.
Open Mic Night
The open mic night is held at Mika Tivador every Tuesday and is more chilled than the usual Retox nights, but still really fun. If you have any sort of musical talent then be sure to get up and perform onstage, otherwise just chill with a few beers.
The Party (Spa Party) is a weekly event at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths and it an all night event which is essentially one massive pool party. There are lazer lights, DJs, a tonne of alcohol and a million different pools and baths.
Honestly, just thinking of getting in the water at a Sparty makes me wanna go and see a doctor, and tbh it’s a pretty expensive event (€42 and you have to buy your own booze on top of that), BUT everyone I know who has been has had a great time, and it does look pretty insane.
The legendary Retox Jager Train is held every Sunday at Retox and is a sight to behold. Think of a huge line of dominoes, although instead of dominoes it’s glasses of Jäger with precariously-balanced Red Bull on top.
The first Red Bull is tipped and then every single one follows on and as soon as your Jager Bomb is poured, you knock it back to kick off the night.
That’s about the best that I can explain it without you just going and seeing it for yourself!
Retox Party Hostel is not where you go for state of the art facilities or a decent night’s sleep. Retox is where you go to meet people, get drunk and have a good time and I can honestly say I did just that.
I’ve made friends for life at Retox (one I got a matching tattoo with and spent 6 months in Poland with, and one I travelled to another three countries with and even met up with back home in Manchester!), and as cheesy as it sounds, I’ve made some of the best memories at Retox.
My only word of warning is that some of the events are pretty pricey for what they are (for example the boat parties and Sparty). Now as far as I’m aware, the hostel isn’t the one making the decisions about how much these things cost (aside from taking a bit of commission), and so it isn’t their fault that Budapest nightlife can get expensive, but it is just something to bear in mind if you are on a backpacker’s budget.
If you are visiting Budapest as a quick city break and not as part of a larger backpacking trip then this shouldn’t matter too much.
All in all, if you aren’t afraid of a little debauchery then Retox Party Hostel is definitely a great place to stay on your Budapest trip, and I’m sure that I will be returning again at some point!
P.S. If you’re planning a trip to Budapest but are looking for something a bit more upmarket then check out the awesome guide over at You Could Travel!