see + do
Gellért Baths and Spa, Budapest
4 Kelenhegyi út
Buda, District XI
Tel: 36 1 889 5500
Concierge.com's insider take:
The quintessential city spa is fed by Gellért Hill's mineral hot springs, flush with calcium, magnesium, hydrocarbonate, alkali, chloride, sulfate, and fluoride, and is good for what ails you—especially if that happens to be rheumatism, osteoarthritis, neuralgia, lumbago, ankylosing spondylitis, and pretty much any chronic degenerative joint disease. But you don't need to be sick to bob around with the nénis and bácsis (aunties and uncles) in the gorgeous, dimly lit Roman temple–like pool, with its marble columns, stained-glass roof, and mosaics, inhaling the slightly stinky steam. Despite signs warning of the perils of long immersion in high concentrations of minerals, it's common practice to wallow all day, bringing your snacks, newspapers, and chess boards and ending up with skin that resembles the hippopotamus you've been impersonating. Massages and other therapies take place in the medical suites and are a terrific bargain (though they bear no relation to scented hotel spa sessions with padded benches, Enya soundtracks, and fluffy towels). This is all burly Hungarians, wooden tables, and soap suds—and forget about modesty. There are many other spas in Budapest, of course, but this is the classic one you've seen in pictures, and it's conveniently sited by the Liberty Bridge. Note: It's operated independently from the eponymous hotel by the Budapest Spas Co., so it's not necessary to be staying in the very faded Gellért Hotel. No treatments on weekends.
Closed Saturdays and Sundays between October and April.