On holiday in Mexico many (many) years ago, a hotel receptionist asked for my autograph. She thought I was Mrs Bruce Willis. Back then, Demi Moore was all the rage. The hairdo she had in Ghost was in fashion. I had it. I had a tan. I was younger, fitter, and hadn’t yet discovered langós. It was an understandable mistake, no?
Since then, that case of mistaken identity has remained my one tenuous link to Hollywood. But last month, I found another. Me and Goldie Hawn both sleep under down duvets made by the same man!
Forget silk sheets. There is nothing quite like sleeping under goose feathers. A goose down quilt had been on my list of wants for years and I finally got around to doing something about it. I did my research (or as much research as my Hungarian would allow); I wanted one made in Hungary but one that would fit an Irish duvet cover. (Who’d have thought bed linen came in so many different sizes.) The closest I could find (but still a few centimetres off) would set me back anything from 65,000 to 140,000 forints.
I like my sleep. I like my bed. But even in my wildest extravagance, I couldn’t spend so much on a duvet. And then I found the father-and-son operation that flies under the banner of Elfenbein. Tucked away in a courtyard at Térez korut 35, they’ve been making down bedding since 1957.
I rang the bell. They buzzed me in. As I made my way down the rather steep stairs into the cellar, the feathers met me half-way. This place has character. I doubt anything has been changed since it first opened. Wooden shelves packed with parnak and paplanok (cushions and duvets) lined the walls, bags of feathers everywhere. Both Tamás and Tamás Szántó delighted in showing me the 1950s feather drier that’s still in use; I got to touch the most expensive down they had (retails at about €300 a kilo); and I got to see the old sewing machine in action. It was all a tad surreal. And then I spotted a picture of Goldie Hawn on the wall, taken when she’d visited them last year.
I was sold. I settled for an 80% down/20% feather combo, handmade with 100% cotton silk ticking, that would fit my bed linen and my budget at 34,000 forints. I just love it when I can buy local.