Meet the Owners – Brody House
Peter Grundberg and William Clothier’s story began in 2004 when they sold their London flats and began to grow their business in Budapest. Their dedication and passion for Budapest and its vibrant art scene is unmistakable in the renovations they’ve undertaken – they’ve managed to create a truly unique experience for both guests and artists alike, running events ranging from cultural salons to fun-filled nights out. We found out more about their achievements, Budapest and the wonderful community they’ve created.
What brought you to Budapest and why did you decide to begin your business there?
Opportunity. We felt this jewel of a city in central Europe was not – in 2003/4 – receiving its ‘fair share’ of regional attention from the international media as well as investors. We started investing in Budapest by purchasing and renovating flats to a decent spec for executive rental. As the market soured in 2008, we took a less conventional but more creative direction and so, in 2009, opened our first ‘rough luxe’ accommodation venue. It was a marriage between lovely, neo-classical buildings and groovy people. And thus Brody House was born – it was only 4 rooms! (Check out the wonderful space it is today here)
Today BrodyLand includes the superb chic Brody Club, fab apartments as well as the incredible Artists’ Villa up in the hills (also part of Further Afield).
What have been your biggest lessons since launching BrodyLand in 2009?
We’re continually learning! Passion, mission and grit are important of course. We keep trying to remind each other of the need to keep things as simple as possible. However, the biggest lesson has been the importance of building a team – we look for positive energy and a ‘can do’ attitude but, in return, need to provide a path for growth and personal development. As owner-managers, we need to give as much time as possible to steer and nurture rather than just arranging a series of tasks – this is something that we need to get more proficient at.
What are your favourite things about living and working in Budapest?
We’ve been based in Budapest for over a decade (which sounds longer than it feels) and it has been rewarding to witness the city’s evolution yet without losing its soul. The range of affordable yet decent dining experiences has increased hugely. It’s been good to see the coming-of-age of a generation whose increasingly international outlook, skills and willingness to smile go a long way towards encouraging visitors to return.
You’ve already curated an impressive collection of properties. Do you have a list of buildings you’d like to acquire for refurbishment or is your choice of development more organic?
There are many lovely buildings in Budapest that still need some love. We always keep an eye open for compelling new opportunities especially if there’s a glamorous backstory lurking! In any event, organic development has always been a running theme in BrodyLand.
BrodyLand has an incredibly bohemian culture. Who and what have been your inspirations in creating this almost theatrical landscape?
Creds to our respective families both of whom value a good story, finding solutions and who have a cultivated interest in a wide range of subjects and people. This outlook is reflected in the Brodyland community which does not have a ‘type’ per se. Actors, artists, designers and musicians rub along with tech and business people. Our social eclecticism is reflected in how we furnish our venues; the old adage ‘one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure’ is bang on. Queue our favourite Hungarian word: ‘lomtalanitas’ which means chuck-your-old-stuff-on-the-street day. We’ve picked up many pieces of furniture this way that we duly cleaned, fixed up and now use in BrodyLand. No doubt this has added to the theatrical feeling.
We love that you reach out to local artists and creatives in order to create quirky, unique spaces. How do you go about finding artists who fit with your culture?
Delighted to hear it. Art, creativity and open minds have always been central to the BrodyLand community. We find many people enjoy looking at, listening to or consuming beautiful products but also value the experience of meeting the creators. In the ‘early days’ we would meet artists socially and these interactions would lead to studio visits (and in turn other artists), the odd purchase and exhibitions. Now, artists reach out to us directly and we receive referrals from friends and members.
You’ve achieved an incredible amount already in the development of BrodyLand. What’s next?
That’s kind. We feel like we’re still at the early part of our journey. We opened a new private cafe and bar called ‘The Workshop’ – drawing from the space’s craft and leather artisanal heritage – in December 2018. Think artisan-luxe crossed with upcycled drapery. In 2019 we open a new members’ bar at Brody House (it has evolved from 4 bedrooms!) and start renovating a building with a wonderful equine backstory. Exciting times and we have our hands full.
Other than your own hotels, do you have a favourite place or places to stay?
In Budapest, our preferred place for a top notch cocktail is Boutiq Bar (http://www.boutiqbar.hu) – an atmospheric speakeasy with warm and knowledgeable bartenders. This is enduringly popular, even with new places popping up.
Beyond Budapest, we’re very fortunate to have 20 wonderful affiliate arts clubs around the world, some of which you can stay in (http://www.brody.land/affiliated-clubs). We would love to spend more time in each of them… maybe that will be our 2020 goal.
Check out BrodyLand and all its wonderful facets – http://www.brody.land