Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
January 23, 2004
Constructed in 1913, the Gellert tries to maintain its traditions of style and service, dating from the era of Emperor Franz Josef. It’s more expensive than the city’s other baths (though it won't break the bank) and you can visit even if you are not staying in the hotel. Many visitors are indeed tourists but it's definitely a favourite haunt of some local ladies as well.
There's little room for prudery or indeed much modesty at the Gellert but somehow your own inhibitions melt away alongside the locals’. On entering, men receive a strip of cloth, women a tiny apron (though many women don’t bother – apparently the men are more private and generally make the most of the fabric strip). Once inside and familiarised with your surroundings and the moist heat, you can take a massages (the short ones last 15 minutes, the more thorough, lasting 40 minutes, is an altogether more vigorous experience not to be embarked upon by the faint-hearted - other treatments happen outside so you'll have to get dressed). To the sides of the 2 thermal baths are separate steam rooms and saunas.
Swimsuits on for the main (mixed) swimming pool, a glorious Art Nouveau beauty surrounded by a colonnade of amber porcelain with water gushing from the mouths of blue dragons into the pool. Swans spread their wings across a mosaic floor, and flora and fauna mix in a riot of colour across a gallery of stained glass windows. There's an unforced hushed peace, broken only by the splashing of swimmers, the continual gushing of mineral water and the gentle human sighs of contented relaxation.
Pool May-Sept daily 6am-7pm (July-Aug also Fri-Sat 8pm-midnight); Oct-April Mon-Fri 6am-7pm, Sat-Sun 6am-5pm. Pool&baths 6-6 daily. Entry - 2700Ft (money back if you leave within 2 hours).
From journal Best of Budapest
July 14, 2003
Not sure of what to do next, we took a breath and headed down a corridor toward what we thought were the locker rooms. Our excitement grew when we saw the famous pool through a large glass window at the end of the hallway. At that point, the two of us separated to go into our respective changing rooms. I wandered off onto the ladies side through a long subterranean hallway lined with pictures from days past. In the changing area an attendant, who spoke English, looked at my ticket and helped me get situated with my locker. I changed into my suit and found my way to the bathing area. We somehow found out where to get towels and that we needed to wear bathing caps. When my boyfriend tried to go into the pool without one, an older gentleman blew his whistle at him and yelled in Hungarian. All swimmers were wearing one and if they did not have their own, they were wearing a plastic shower-cap type that was being handed out.
The "Baths" are actually pools and an experience here not like going to the neighborhood pool back home. Baths in Budapest are almost sacred to the locals. The main pool at Hotel Gellert is the height of luxury. Its marble columns and green plants resemble something from the heady days of the Roman Empire. We stepped into the pool and the water was much colder than expected. The apparent rules are that swimmers must swim in a circle around the pool. No stopping or you will get the whistle blown at you. When you are done with the main pool, step into a hot thermal pool at the other end. Bathers sit on underwater benches while healing waters sprout from statues. A retractable glass roof is often opened in summer to let sunlight shine down on the hedonistic scene. Doors lead off at either side to the single sex Turkish thermal baths. Outside there is a huge sun deck and an even larger pool where every hour the fun starts when the wave pool cranks into action for about 10 minutes.
From journal Budapest: Beyond Western Europe
May 23, 2002
Very famous, very pretty, very everything. There are separate spa sections for women and men and some common swimming pools. The spas are very beautiful and tranquil. It's the norm to go naked (in the spa section ONLY, of course). A very liberating experience. Just a tad gross when you see pubic hairs floating in the water. *gag*
Very huge, very popular, very oh-look-the-old-men-are-playing-chess-like-in-the-photo. This is a pretty good bath too, but I found it rather impersonal. It's in the Varosliget, near the zoo and everything so maybe you could make it part of your day there.
Near Batthanyi Metro (which my friend thought was Hungarian for "bath" :)). It is alternatively open to women and men (call to find out). It's small and in bad need of renovation, but it's a "charming" example of Turkish architecture. The 4 of us had a splendid time and all got massages. My foot massage was oh-so-delicious but the whole-body massage I heard was painful rather than relaxing.
While at a bath, do try the 1) hot-bath, 2) freezing-cold tub, 3) sauna cycle - it's good for circulation and rather addictive after the first time. Trust me.
From journal My Budapest
June 22, 2004
First, we had to get undressed and the employee gave us those pieces of cloth that really don't hide anything. After the first moment of embarrassment, we got rid of them. Being embarrassed was... well... embarrassing. The dark main room topped with a dome had a hot mineral bath and cold pool. Next to it, the steam room (which was in fact a little room with the heater set at maximum temperatures). The locals, instead of sitting quietly like I did, have little instruments to scrape their dead skin. That grossed out some of my friends. I thought it kinda made sense. Anyway, after several dips in the hot pool then in the cold, I felt all my body in a state of relaxation hard to describe. I wished we had had more time there because the massages were very cheap. But we only had a few hours in Budapest and we had to make them count.
From journal Roadtrip to Romania
March 14, 2003
First, you pay the entrance fee about 7 euros, and then you go to the locker rooms to get undressed. You're given a key which you are supposed to put somewhere (it's a bit hard when you're naked). Then you can go the bath area. You have to make your way past some very strong Hungarian masseuses with a line of women waiting for their masssages. Then you come to two large thermal pools with water coming out from gorgeous gargoyle spouts. One pool has warmer water than the other. After soaking a bit (and looking up at the gorgeous mural dome ceiling), shower off and get dressed, or get a beauty treatment downstairs.
Gellart is the only bath in Budapest that women can go to any day of the week. Most baths have one day of the week for women, and the rest are for men.
From journal Budapest Turkish Baths
December 13, 2002
What are baths exactly? Well, they are pools. When you pay for the pool, you have access to the regular non-heated pool and to a much smaller heated pool. Going from the former to the latter will burn your skin while doing the opposite will almost kill you of hypothermia. That said, it is supposed to be good for health!
Many other options are offered, from sauna to therapeutic massages. The Gellert Baths are the most expensive of the city. If you are on tight budget, the baths in the city park are more affordable.
Bring a bathing suit, or you'll have to rent one, a highly unhygienic option.
From journal Between West and East