Very eager to hear whether the Gellert baths are a good alternative to traveling to Szechenyi. The photos make the tile colors look very appealing, and its location is certainly better for us, since we are staying in the Castle district. Is it a nice place for a quick spa experience? I know that Szechenyi offers the large outdoor pool, but since our trip is coming in two weeks, it may not be warm enough outside in any case.
Thermal baths are open every day, winter and all. Gallert has an outdoor pool too.
Temperatures here have bounced around a bit this week, but during the day most often warm enough to not need a goat, coat or sweater
Thanks, but leaving the temps aside, I am eager to learn your view about the Gellert experience. Is it a nice place to go? Is it as lovely as the beautiful tiles make it look?
Yes, it is as lovely, nancy. The Gellert baths are the only ones I have ever been in but I was very impressed and thought it was all very "mittle European" and glamourous. That was in the '90s and no doubt it is just the same.
The official website is: http://www.gellertbath.hu/
I have never used the baths. I was in the hotel around lunch time today. Its still a 3 star make over of what was once an incredible hotel. I've heard the last major renovation was in 1973. I keep hoping that they will spend some money and bring it back to life. I guess there is just too much competition. Don't go because its closer, go because its what you want to see, as one is about 30 minutes while the other is about 40 minutes by public transport. The history of the Gellert is pretty fascinating. Schindler came to Budapest to try and warn the Jews. While in town he stayed at the Gellert. Of course so did a lot of Nazis as it was pretty much "the place" at the time. I think its a great idea to visit. If you watch Anthony Bourdain's Budapest show you will get some good views of the interior.
And regarding temperature -- we were in the outside pool at Szechenyi in March of this year, and it was delightful!
We spend two nights in Budapest in 1984 and stayed at the Gellert hotel. The hotel was at a great location, especially on top of the baths, but it appeared that like most of the Communist Block facilities, it needed renovation.
It is hard to believe that the beautiful old hotel has not be renovated since then.
It looks as though the hotels on the Buda side generally dont do as well and the company that owns the property really doesn't compete in the high end market. Pest has so many great 5 star hotels right now that I wonder if the market is flooded.
Thank you to you all for these very helpful answers.
We were mildly grossed out at Gellert Baths, and ended up not bathing in spite of having paid the admission fee. Maybe it was an off day, or maybe we are a bit germ-phobic (and maybe both) but there were band aids and sanitary napkins on the floors of the shower/changing areas, grime on the floor, etc.
Cue the obnoxious criticisms of me for my "naive american chauvinism"... now.
Jtraveler, a bit disappointing. My wife wouldn't go in under those circumstances either. My wife was totally freeked out at the Szechenyi Baths with a locker room packed full, butt cheek to butt cheek with voluptuous eastern European women. So now I get the cabana rooms (glorified changing closet). As for the quality of the water, I have never heard of any sort of health issue related to it in either place. I would imagine, because the heat is natural thermal heat, that the water has to be turned over pretty frequently keeping things pretty clean.
For a very gritty and realistic view of the Gellert Bath watch from about the 15 minute mark. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4lp9v8
Last summer I went to both Gellert and Szechnyi. The locker room area at Gellert did seem maybe less clean and harder to find one's way around. I got cabanas at both for changing and was glad I did. But I enjoyed visiting both of them and didn't feel at any hygienic risk.
And I hope they NEVER renovate the Gellert, as if they do, I'll never be able to afford to stay there again! I love it in its old preserved state.
Nancy, the baths are GORGEOUS. I love going into the hot bath and just sitting and sitting and it becomes basically meditative.
Do NOT get the 'vizimasazs" -- water massage. This is a lady who slaps you up and down with cold water. no no no!!
Oh I wish I were going right now!