Whilst in Budapest earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit my first ever thermal bath.
Budapest is often referred to as the city of baths, a solid indication to the sheer number of baths that are on offer, so I decided to do some background research. After much reading of my lonely planet guidebook, travel blogs and their author’s opinions, I decided on the Gellert Baths as my first introduction to this popular pastime. Located on the Buda side, Gellert Baths is a thermal bath and swimming pool complex which dates back to the late 1900s.
My experience of this historical bath was not as enjoyable as I had hoped, in- fact I view it as a complete waste of my time and money.
My trip to the baths was doomed from the beginning. With no clear directions or instructions on how to enter the building we found ourselves pacing around trying to locate the entrance. We were not the only ones, the number of people who entered the neighbouring hotel to ask directions was a clear sign that detailed directions need to be given.
Once inside feeling a sigh of relief that we finally found the baths, we were hit by the reality of how much a visit would actually cost. Unable to afford a cabin to share, my friend and I opted for a locker each, even this option was not cheap. When you are told you are purchasing a locker you really are purchasing only a locker. You think they must give you somewhere to change, a little cubicle maybe. Nope.
After quickly changing in the toilet we headed down to rent a towel and buy a shower cap, costing us more money on top of the inflated entry price. At Gellert baths to enter the indoor pool all females must wear a swimming cap which they happen to sell in the foyer. But alas we needn’t have purchased the caps. Instead of visiting the indoor pool we opted for the outside bath instead and here no one wore caps.
After spending only half an hour in the outdoor bath we decided to call it a day.
My opinion of the Gellert Baths are anything other than positive. It’s overpriced, it’s confusing and it’s dull. It was very much like sitting in a warm bath with complete strangers who decide to get far to close for comfort. I always try and think positive in a negative situation but when I am paying nearly twenty pounds to visit a pool I expect the facilities to be able to get changed in private.
But on a positive note I could not fault the staff at the baths who were extremely friendly and helpful.