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The Hullám Hostel building, which was erected in 1910, functioned as a top-notch hotel up until 1940, displaying an image quite obviously different from its current one. All the more so as during the Communist era the property was turned into a restaurant, with one of the wings being transformed into lodgings for the staff, a common practice at the time. It was all about ration stamps during the day, and at nighttime the famous club at the back of the garden filled with the sounds of Gypsy music and dancing feet. The change of regime brought several question marks for Hullám. Where have the crowds gone? – the owners wondered, struggling to wrap their heads around why the “pork knuckle” Balaton feeling fell out of favour. Instead of reviving the place using a bit of innovation, they let it to fall into ruin.
The relief troops arrived in 2002 and set to work immediately. Emese Sziklai, Zsolt Sziklai and Zoltán Nyírő knew even then that it was worth devoting all their time and energy to sprucing up the hostel, a real trailblazing establishment at the time. The place started growing as a bar, an outdoor cooking area, new rooms and the like were gradually added to it. Lightpainting artist Dorka Berkes contributed her skills and fantasy to the expansion, helping to make the hostel a more aesthetically pleasing venue.
Their rooms, accommodating two, four or six, have gained more and more popularity both within and beyond the borders, allowing for further developments to be made in line with the needs of guests. As news of Hullám Hostel spread through word of mouth and online, the hostel facilities began to diversify some more: a small kitchen was added, the attic was furnished, a bike rental was established with about 50 bikes, and a wider range of programs were introduced. You can listen to jazz, blues or rock concerts, folk music performances, or alternatively to the loud cheering of soccer fans during some major football event. Enjoy a meal cooked outdoors every evening for HUF 1,000-1,2000 (second helping included in price).
Think of Hullám Hostel as the essence of a positive hostel experience.
“Everyone can easily bump into a new friend or a nice boy or girl here,” says Zoltán. This is a place that bemused artists, tough bikers, lost travellers and toddling kindergarteners are all happy to frequent. Sometimes you’ll have those lucky moments when some caffeine, healing soup or rosé fröccs will make you want to stay just a bit longer, to meet and talk to some more new faces.
At the same time, this is so much more than you average hostel: a venue for music camps, for programs organized for psychiatric patients and for a bikers’ energy filling station.
Thanks mainly to bloggers from abroad, Hullám has also become a cultic Balaton establishment, adding an exciting new hue to the portrait of the Hungarian sea.