I have lived in 6 countries in the last 10 years, but there is no place like home. I have visited most of the capital cities in Europe and I still believe that Budapest is an outstanding place. A visit to Budapest during winter in my opinion must include walking through beautiful St Stephen’s square while eating the famous Hungarian Kurtoskalacs and evening cruise on the Danube.
Another unique place that you can’t miss is the Gellert Hotel and Thermal Bath. This stunning architectural masterpiece just celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. A whole host of monarchs, religious leaders, international politicians, prominent statesmen, renowned scientists and world-famous artists were frequent guests at the Gellért Hotel. The Bath is connected to the hotel, through a corridor and I recommend spending at least one night here.
The atmosphere felt magical as soon as we stepped into the Gellert Hotel. We visited just before Christmas and the tree in the lobby gave us a warm welcoming entrance. The staff was kind and helpful, our room was tastefully designed with wooden furnitures dated back a few decades. The bathtub even had an actual heater, just as I saw during my childhood in Hungarian movies. Isn’t if fascinating that this hotel and spa have been built a century ago? Let me tell you a bit about its unique history.
Construction on the Hotel Saint Gellért started in 1912 in Art Nouveau Style. The hotel was named for Saint Gellért (St. Gerard Sagredo) the first bishop of Hungary in the 11th Century. It has opened its doors first in September 1918, just as the war was ending and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was descending into chaos.
The hotel was severely damaged in World War II. Post-war Communist authorities removed the “St.” from the hotel’s name and it became the Hotel Gellért. The restoration work ended in 1962 and since than the Hotel has been welcoming guests with no interruption. The adjoining spa is owned and operated by the City of Budapest. Gellert Bathis offering medicinal water treatments using the same deep underground springs the Knights of St John used in the 12th century, and later on the Turks to feel the invigorating powers of the mineral rich waters.
We stayed on the first floor and could walk into the thermal bath in our slippers and bathrobes. If you are like me and want to have the whole thermal pool for yourself, come early, Gellert Bath opens at 6 am. We came to the bath after enjoying a spectacular sunrise from the balcony which was facing the Danube. This panoramic balcony gave us a view all over Budapest, it was definitely worth to wake up early to see as the city slowly wakes up.
As we walked into the Gellért Bath I was blown away how beautiful this spa really was. It felt as if we were back in the beginning of the 20th century. The bath has four beautiful indoor pools with temperature ranging from 36-42 degrees and an iconic swimming pool. It is not recommended to stay in the thermal water for more than 20 minutes at once, as it is rich in minerals.
If you are an early bird, you may get this beautiful pool all to yourself 🙂
I started with taking a dip in the hot water, then I went upstairs to the first floor to read a book and enjoy the stunning view of the swimming pool. If you feel like, go for a swim, but don’t forget to bring your swimming hat, which is needed for the main pool.
Visitors from all over Europe come to Hungary to enjoy the benefits of thermal water, there are specific treatments too. After enjoying a few hours in the Thermal Bath we walked back to the hotel for the breakfast buffet which was tasty and the selection really impressed me.
After breakfast we visited the Fisherman’s Bastille and the Buda Castle, the view was stunning. I believe Budapest has something beautiful to offer every season 🙂 As it was also Christmas season, there were huge sales around all the city, so we also ended up spending a few hours in my favorite shopping mall, the Arena. This mall has every brand that you can think of, many great restaurants and the best cinema too
The temperature was cold outside, so went back for a late afternoon dip in the magnificent Gellert Thermal Bath. Exploring Budapest made us hungry for dinner and we decided to stay indoors as Gellert Hotel has a beautiful restaurant with live music and the food was not only delicious but also innovative. The menu included Hungarian favorites with a special twist.
The morning after it was time to go back to my hometown -which is 60 kilometers from Budapest- and spend time with family. Whenever I come to Budapest I always find a beautiful new place to explore, Gellert Bath was definitely one of them! 🙂
This post is not sponsored in any way, everything written above is my opinion.