Budapest: taking the waters at Gellert Hotel

Nursing a mild hangover, an after effect of a gin concoction known as a ‘Japanese Lover’ served by Budapest’s swank, Buddha Bar, we headed to one of the city’s many thermal baths to utilise the water’s healing powers. The Gellert Hotel and Baths complex is a masterpiece of Hungarian secession style and can trace it’s healing heritage back to the 13th Century.

I was quite trepidatious about the whole ‘taking the water’ experience, in my bravado and frankly, showing off streak, I’d organised a chocolate massage – the magic word’s which escaped the lips of my significant other were… ‘I will let you decide.’  And so like no other Bartlett man before him, he made presented no hesitation as burly Hungarian women warmed her hands in coco butter essential oils, ready to ease away every knot the body might conceivably have.

Gellert Baths are a labyrinth of mosaic art deco pools, the fantastic secessionist designs morph with hungarian folklore, bathing the complex in a colourful light. With four thermal baths and central pool underneath an airy atrium lined with classic pillars, donning a swim cap, I felt like Mabel Normand, one of Sennett’s Bathing Beauties from the twenties. However this does mean that it can be a bit of an issue finding your way round and I get the distinct impression the Hungarian staff are a little fed up with giving directions.

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