spa - The Gellért Baths, Budapest
Written by Caroline Sylger Jones
Opened in 1918, the ornate and lovely Gellért Baths are still one of the best places to go for an authentic spa experience in Budapest.
The building has a gorgeous art nouveau interior complete with vaulted ceilings, fluted columns, and stained glass windows. There are elegant mosaics, fountains, and sculptures to amuse the eye while you relax in a range of indoor and outdoor pools.
The thermal waters are sourced from deep inside Gellért Hill, and kept at a constant temperature of 44°C. Their heat and mineral properties are a real tonic for both mind and body, for they help to rebalance your immune and nervous systems, ease stiff muscles and joints, and exfoliate and soften the skin.
Saunas and steam rooms are impressively hot, and there is an outdoor swimming pool, and grassy areas where you can cool off. Massages and mud masks with firm-handed therapists are available; but don’t expect any fluffy towels. Bring your own instead, together with a pair of flip-flops, and arrive early for some early morning peace – the baths open at 6am.
A dip into history
Hungary may seem an unlikely place for water babies, but Hungarians enjoy the use of more than 400 registered thermal springs, and have been soaking in the curative waters since the 15th century. The Turks introduced elaborate bathing houses during the 16th and 17th centuries, while the Romans established 14 baths in Budapest alone. Take with you Budapest: The Bradt City Guide.