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Looking for a cool hookah hide-out? Try Kush

If you’re looking for a place to throw your next “White Party,” Kush Ultralounge and Hookah Bar in downtown Orlando is the spot.

That’s because from the moment you walk through the beaded metal-draped entrance to the upstairs loft, you see nothing but white and stainless steel. The brick walls, the couches and the tables are all white. Pops of color come from paintings on the wall that have translucent valances overhead with lighting units inside, bathing the room with soft shades of blue, pink and green.

This is a stark contrast for those of you who remember Bodhisattva Social Club, which used to occupy the space at 23 S. Court Ave. The dark, smoky club was one of the coolest in Orlando and it was a sad day when the club closed (and more so when its former owner, Thom Butler, died a couple of months later).

The spot had been vacant for several years until popular hippie-mart Kathmandu moved in more than a year ago (Kathmandu still has a Winter Park location). Kush soon followed. But private parties and my bad timing kept me from checking out the spot until last week.

Don’t be fooled by that front door on Court Street. It’s not an entrance. You have to go into Kathmandu and go upstairs to reach the hookah lounge. And even that has an air of mystique because you need a code from the cashier to unlock the door.

Reggae music (and that trippy lighting) caught me off-guard when I first walked into what looked like a South Beach-inspired hookah lounge with its white furniture and sheer white drapings around each seating area. My husband disagreed, saying it reminded him of a New Age opium den. I think he nailed it.

Before you start freaking out, there was no opium. It’s just a hookah lounge with a terrific, but pricey, beer selection.

Not sure what hookahs are? They are large glass pipes with many hoses from which flavored tobaccos filtered through ice-cold water can be smoked. At Kush, it’s $21.30 to smoke from the hookah, and that includes your tobacco of choice (there are nearly 40). The tobacco will usually last for about an hour; no other smoking is allowed.

Because I’m a recent non-smoker, I felt it was still a little too soon for me to be smoking anything so I passed on the hookah when the server came around.

At Kush, there is no walking up to a bar — there is no bar. The VIP feel is not only in the look but includes table service without having to buy a bottle of Grey Goose to receive it.

I ordered a beer from the menu, which included almost 30 beers. I ordered a Left Hand Milk Stout, and at $6 it was pricier than I would normally pay. I’ve found it for as low as $3, but $5 is about fair for downtown. All beers, our server told us, are microbrews and imports with “no domestics.” I’m sure she meant Budweiser or Miller Lite because Yuengling was on the menu. The words “America’s Oldest Brew” typed next to it doesn’t excuse the $6 Kush charged. Quite a shame.

But that was the only downside to the unique space. Fans and smoke eaters take care of the hookah smoke in the rather small space. It never felt smoky, and there was a lovely incense scent the whole time I was there. “Entertainment” was provided by a projected silhouette of a life-size woman dancing to the music at the front of the lounge. A very neat effect, one the hubby seemed to enjoy a bit too much.

I’ve heard lots of club owners mention how they’re bringing something new and different to downtown Orlando — it’s nice when you see someone actually do it.

See for yourself

Kush Ultralounge and Hookah Bar

Where: 23 S. Court Ave. in downtown Orlando (above Kathmandu)

Looking for a cool hookah hide-out? Try Kush If you’re looking for a place to throw your next “White Party,” Kush Ultralounge and Hookah Bar in downtown Orlando is the spot. That’s because

Kush Hookah Lounge

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About Kush Hookah Lounge

  • Cuisine Hookah Bar
  • Price $15-$30
  • Alcohol Available
  • Parking Street

From Our Editors

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Dress up a plain white tee with statement pieces from Kathmandu, a hot and trendy Orlando jewelry hub. Winter fashion can be fun too! Dress up your outfit with