Sip tea in style at Budapest’s new Cydonia Tearoom & Vintage

We got to know Viola at her previous boutique, where she instantly amazed us by how real and enthusiastic she is. She loves bygone eras, and although she doesn’t have a rotary phone in her purse, it’s hard to encounter a more elegant young woman in downtown Budapest. Vintage is her lifestyle, as she examines a lace vest or a velvet skirt with the eyes of an expert, and it’s hard to picture her in sneakers. She’s original and a real individual, and fortunately she pairs her interest with creativity. Her new English tea house and little boutique, a real curiosity in Budapest, opened recently.

Each day brings a new opening or two in Budapest, and besides the fact that the quality gets better and better, we must say that the businesses of of this city still have work to do when it comes to their uniqueness and style. Wesselényi Street is not exactly the Brick Lane yet, and District VII is really only catching up with Neukölln. However, the beginning of last December saw the arrival of an unusual and exciting concept on Akácfa Street, one that could be successful anywhere in the world.

Viola and her family decided that although it was nice to run their boutique, they would very much like to share a different feeling and set of values from the culture they know thoroughly and love a lot. We previously discussed what vintage is, and how we shouldn’t mix up Provencal chests with fans originating from the ’20s, and mistake fashion trends for originality. Upon stepping into Cydonia, it instantly becomes clear that the beautiful ornate chandelier or the porcelain teacups lined up on the shelf are truly relics of bygone eras, and not modern replicas.

The tables are on the street level of the store and in the front area of the gallery, and downstairs behind a wooden counter, desserts are made fresh every day, with a backdrop of lined-up leaf teas that arrive from Sussex. The stairs lead us to the boutique part of the store, where tastefully selected clothes, accessories, and other trinkets await new owners. The small boxes, knickknacks, booklets, or perfume bottles have another chance to be possessed by someone who cares. A few very special apparel items hang on a brass rod, like traditional pieces that can easily be incorporated into modern clothing, a heavy velvet evening dress, an Escada jacket perfected with shoulder pads, or a cardigan decorated with metallic thread. Viola knows the story behind each piece, so it’s good to ask her about them. As we learned, two lace-up boots, both in great condition, belonged to actress Józsa Hacser.

The jewelry of the upper area is the vitrine display cabinet that Viola received from perfumer Zsolt Zsólyomi, so that it would be placed in a worthy environment. The selection keeps expanding, of course, and we can even ask questions or inquire after things we are looking for. With long years of collecting, they might just have the diadem we are looking for hiding in a hat box. And of course, past and present can also melt together: for example, the limited-edition silk and lace Ayten Gasson English undergarment pieces are beautiful, and in Hungary they’re only available at Cydonia.

The teahouse has a selection of traditional English teas – arriving form Sussex, these become even more exciting with orange, violet, or rose petals. What’s more, soon they will have their personal Cydonia blend, which was put together by Viola and the tea company. A teapot of these specialties costs 850 forints, and naturally, it’s served with milk; after all, we are talking about tea served in English style. They have premium soft-drink brands, and they also serve syrup sodas – no commercial sources here. The cookies, pies, and cakes are all made fresh, whether we are talking about the hazelnut and chocolate banana bread, the almond-flour and poppy-seed cake with chocolate ganache, or the fox-shaped cinnamon biscuits. Since it’s winter, they also have beigli and peacetime Pozsony crescents, arriving from a confectioner in Törökbálint. 

We would definitely recommend this little teahouse for cold winter evenings, or a little after-work hangout, as time here really does stand still, and it’s unlike any other spot in Budapest. And for those who are into vintage things, it’s great to check out the upstairs shelves every now and then.