The Buddha Bar compilations have oft been compared to Del Mar Cafe or World Dub Pastry, undoubtedly in part because its genre is listed as chillout; however, if you are looking for anything like the aforementioned, this is not it. While other chillout albums would take the edge your day, as your sink into a futon late night listening to ethereal synths dance with ambient echoes, and the occasional world sample, Buddha Bar tends to be the background music to an engaging conversation over dinner at a high-end restaurant. A person looking for chillout and mixed with continuity would likely find the variety of ethnic compositions, comparatively themeless, to be boring. I have also seen reviews claiming Buddha Bar to be badly mixed, with trance DJ's listed like DJ Tiesto or Armin van Buuren listed as the alternative. Surely on the dancefloor, the flow of the beat is much more important. The Buddha Bar doesn't claim to be a technical masterpiece, nor does it seek to be original. In fact, the selection is mixed only with light percussion and ethnic drums as a beat.
A fairer comparison would be with the Hotel Costes series, since they both share the same function. However, while Hotel Costes takes pride in its Western European roots, with pop, dance, hip-hop, with touches of jazz, as the base selection, Buddha Bar will take you on an exotic journey across the far reaches of the world. Over the years, Claude Challe and DJ Ravin have gathered an impressive list of tracks from no less than Romania, India, Korea, the Middle East, and the Native Americans, with some good Western classics and orchestral, and original Euro-synth compositions in between. While you could possibly spend hours to days to discover all these gems hidden from Western audiences by yourself -- after all, the internet is replete with resources today -- Buddha Bar could also serve to be a starting point for you to branch out and expand your musical familiarity. It takes an open mind to enjoy this series, and you will have to leave your comfort zone sometimes, but if you have pre-conceived notions of what this should be, whether it's chillout, house, or Tibetan chants, you might not enjoy it as much.
If I were to classify Buddha Bar, I would have to call it "ethnic fusion". They are world pieces coupled with ethnic drums and a little bit of modern synths often produced with Euro-dance, all while maintaining its authentic flavor. I get more of a Bela Fleck vibe to it (see Sleeper from the Little Worlds album) than anything else that is "chillout". There's a genuine mix of both exciting and relaxing tunes that makes it just right.