After hours of driving from Romania, getting stuck in Budapest traffic, nearly 40-degree weather, hauling suitcases up staircases, etc, I was ready for some R&R. Luckily, our next stop was the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Hungary has over 100 thermal and 400 mineral springs, making Budapest a world-renowned spa destination.
There are many spa’s in Budapest, but the two of the most popular are the Szechenyi Baths on the ‘Pest’ side and the Gellert Baths on the ‘Buda’ side. Both are large thermal complexes offering several indoor and outdoor pools, sauna’s, spa’s and wellness treatments. The perfect way to relax after a long road trip.
I opted to try the Gellert spa for a day of lounging by the pool, a massage and a pedicure. It was overall a reasonably priced experience and the pools were absolutely lovely. The architecture creates a unique experience with their Cathedral-like architecture, magical waters, and a large variety of pools offering different temperatures. There as even a family-friendly pool outside that turned into a wave pool every so often.
The spa itself was a little difficult to navigate and we weren’t the only tourists to have a hard time using the magnetic key card system to open the lockers. Sunday at the Gellert is also family day, so the main outdoor pool was quite busy. Once having found the hidden mineral pools and spa inside the massage area, I found a quiet little piece of heaven. The ornate tiles and domed ceilings were beautiful and lounging alone in the pools was a fantastic way to relax.
The services on the other hand while being ‘good value for money’ was a little lack-lustre compared to other spas I’ve been to in North America. I would have preferred to pay a little more for a bit better of a service. The massage, for instance, consisted of me laying completely naked while the non-English speaking masseuse gave me an awkward hip/butt massage for half an hour while other staff came in and out of the booth to char. A little uncomfortable perhaps for a modest North American used to covered massages.
The pedicure while “effective” was different than what I’m used to as well because the woman shaved the rough skin off my foot with a razer rather than a pumice stone. I was pretty nervous about this at first but she did a decent job. All things aside it was still a great day and totalled less than $50 including the services.
I heard rumours that the Szechenyi Spa was a little better but can’t really comment since I never made it over there. I would definitely go again but may skip the services and spend more time in the mineral-pool heaven.