The hotel is centrally situated on the Buda river bank, beside the Independence Bridge. A five-minute walk across the bridge brings you to the colourful Great Market Hall and the lower end of shopping street Váci utca.
The 234 rooms vary significantly at the Gellért, both in size and décor. Some of those in the economy category are a bit cramped, and the patterned wallpaper and floral bedspreads can stray towards 1970s chintz. At the other end, the deluxe doubles and suites are more stylish and luxuriant in feel. If you get the option (you won’t in the cheaper categories), ask for a room overlooking the river; however, note that – while I’ve never had an issue – some people in rooms facing the river or Gellért Hill have been kept awake by the trams rumbling along the road outside. Most rooms don’t have air conditioning.
If the rooms vary, there’s universal elegance in the public areas. To step into the lobby is to step back in time; the bar, restaurant and terrace ooze yesteryear grace. You enter through a revolving door of polished wood and check-in at a reception desk of equally polished wood; leather armchairs are set beneath shiny columns, and a diminutive statuette forms the centrepiece.
Eating and drinking
Of the two restaurants, the Panorama is the more formal option (although it offers a buffet brunch on Sundays), while The Brasserie serves lighter meals and a tasting menu in the evening. Each gives access to a summer terrace. The café is popular – often with those stopping in for refreshment after a visit to the baths.
My favourite spot here is the bar. It is dominated by rich wood and stained-glass panels, and its long marble top is a perfect place to perch with a beer.
The hotel relies on its neighbour to provide the leisure. The neo-classical Gellért Baths – the best-known (although not the best, in my opinion) spa complex in the city – is next door, and hotel guests get free and direct access to the main facilities. There are thermal baths, indoor and outdoor swimming pools (the latter with a wave machine), sauna and steam room, and a range of wellness options (massages, etc).
I have always enjoyed good service here – even after staff searched high and low for a mobile phone that I thought I’d lost but that I later found had been in my pocket all the time...
Who stays there
A range of guests, although primarily tourist visitors. The hotel was once a favourite with celebrities and politicians, but the boom in slicker hotels means they’re less frequently seen these days.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Seasoned travellers
- Great views / scenery
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Good riverside location
- A historic hotel
- Elegant public areas
- Some rooms can suffer from road noise
- Some rooms are very dated