Savamala is the fastest changing area of Belgrade, that has undergone a transformation from a derelict part of the city center to a hip quarter full of cafés, clubs and alternative culture venues. Up until ten years ago this area was known for its paint shops and places to buy car parts while today both the nightclubbers and the artsy types are flocking here to enjoy its unique feel and igniting atmosphere. While most aspects of this process are laudable there has been one fault for all of us that remember the Savamala of before: the old watering holes have all but disappeared.
One place that has survived is the bar at Hotel Bristol. Like the entire hotel, situated in a lovely Art Nouveau edifice, the bar is also managed by the army, which in effect means that here they are not very interested in adapting to the new circumstances. Paradoxically, it is exactly this lost-in-time effect that attracts many of its younger guests, creating a curious mix of shabby old patrons and Belgrade’s up and coming creative young.
A slow but affectionate waitress with a thick accent from rural Croatia, distasteful orange walls, old stools, smells of cooked meals not on offer, lack of decoration, and, of course, cheap drinks are some of the charms that make Bristol an unintentional alternative to the alternative. I enjoy sipping my drinks at this fold of two worlds, whose contrasts and blank spaces cannot fail to inspire new ideas.