The Gellért Thermal Spa, Budapest
What do you do when you step out of your hotel ready to see the sights of the city and it’s bucketing down with rain? Well, you turn right back again and go and sit in the Thermal Spa to get warm! Luckily for me, I was staying in the Gellért Hotel, which houses one of the most famous Thermal Spa Baths in the whole of Budapest. Also lucky for me, as a guest of the hotel, I was entitled to one free entrance to the Spa as part of my stay!
A bit of history…..
Budapest, although the capital of Hungary also has another title; the city of spas. It has some of the grandest thermal spas in the whole of Europe and also some of the oldest, dating back to the 16th century when the Turks from the Ottoman empire landed there and opened the first spas.
The Gellért Spa and Hotel took around 6 years to build; first opening its doors in 1918. I think it’s the most grandiose of all the spa baths in Budapest, built in the Art Nouveau style, which I absolutely love. When you step inside, you can’t help but look around, open-mouthed, at the beautiful colourful mosaic tiling, moulding and sculptures that features in its architecture.
The Hotel was built on actual thermal pools which are fed from the thermal springs inside Gellért Hill. The high water temperature at the Gellért Spa is especially beneficial for treating inflammation of the joints, circulatory diseases and asthmatic disorders.
Inside the Spa it’s a warren of doorways leading to different pool areas with differing temperatures. The coolest pool I saw was around 28 degrees up to a whopping 40 degree heat, which I could only put my feet into as it was far too hot to sit in. There are guidelines to say that you shouldn’t stay in the 40 degree heat more than 5 minutes but I saw people in there for a lot longer. I don’t know how they could stand it!
There are also beautifully mosaic columns that house the showers and also a freezing cold plunge pool….!
Besides the four thermal medicinal pools, there is a very large indoor swimming pool surrounded by beautiful carved columns. You have to wear a blue swimming cap if you enter the swimming pool or you get shouted at by the pool attendants.
There are also two very large outdoor pools and another outdoor thermal pool which was still open on a dark, cold Friday night! I happened to be walking around the back of the hotel and I heard a lot of laughter coming from the pool. Everyone was having a high old time with their drinks balanced on the edge of the pool with the steam from the baths making it look very cosy!
Tips for visiting the Gellért Spa
As a guest of the Hotel, you are entitled to one free entrance as part of your stay. If you want more visits, then these are half price. The normal cost for general public entry is around £12 per visit.
There is a separate entrance for general public and hotel guests so the two do not get confused.
The spa is mixed; there are no separate areas for women.
The Spa also offers more than just therapeutic waters; it also offers beauty treatments such as massage, aromatherapy and pedicures, which are available at an extra charge.
There are also saunas and steam rooms to use as part of the entry fee.
To enter the baths, you need to scan your electronic wristband at the turnstiles.
To exit the baths, deposit your wristband into the slot at the turnstiles.
Gellért Spa is on the Buda side of the Danube, close to the Liberty bridge.