Landmark of Old World Charm in Budapest: Danubius Hotel Gellért

At the Buda end of Budapest’s Liberty Bridge, the Danubius Hotel Gellért remains a landmark of old world charm. With its impressive Art Nouveau facade overlooking the river, this grande dame may be a trifle faded four-star; but she’s still got the elegant bones and the historic vibe that make a stay here worthwhile. 

Located at the base of Gellért Hill, the hotel was completed in 1918 –when the first luxury spa hotels were opening in Budapest. Today, the Gellért is considered the oldest and most famous of them all. Although it suffered extensive damage during WWII, it was restored and modernized after.

Currently, the hotel is part of the Danubius chain; and its thermal baths are operated independently, even though they are housed in the same building. However, one of the reasons I booked a room here was because guests who stay at the hotel have access (a free pass once during your stay, and after that –at half the normal admittance price) to the baths—which are connected via an elevator via corridor, without having to go outside.

Stepping into the hotel’s circular lobby feels a bit like stepping into a piece of history–with its marble columns and stairways leading to the mezzanine level adorned with beautiful stained glass. 

A multi-lingual staff are dressed up formally in dark suits and greet guests at the check-in desk. Behind them, a sectioned wood panel with hooks holds the weight-y real room keys; guests leave them when going out. I know, I know, some folks have issues with this sort of room key-keeping. But I still find it a lovely old-fashioned touch (unless of coure, you prefer carrying a pound weight in your pocket). The whole front desk made me think of the movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel –which apparently got its inspiration from the Gellért– although it was not filmed here. 

There are 234 rooms in the Gellért, varying in size, shape and price. (Rates start at a budget-worthy single for $62 and go upwards.) Our room was huge–with a king-sized bed for my husband and me–and an extra cot that pulled out of an armoire for our son. A sitting area with two upholstered chairs and a coffee table was strategically situated near French doors that opened onto a small balcony and offered a spectacular (both day and night time) view of the Danube, the Liberty Bridge, and downtown Budapest: The Great Market Hall is only a 10-minute walk across the bridge. 

Both the room and spacious bathroom—with tub/shower were spotless, if somewhat lacking in color or décor. Bathrobes, a minibar, clock radio and satellite t.v. are standard with most rooms.

There are several eating options in the hotel, including the Panorama Restaurant (serving lunch and dinner) and where as hotel guests we received a complimentary and wonderful buffet breakfast (part of the room rate). On the main floor and off the lobby, the Gellért Brasserie is more casual –and where we stopped one late afternoon for a bite to eat and a beer from a good range of draught, bottled and specialty brews available.

For more information, or to make reservations, check the website. You can also make reservations through Priceline or Expedia.

Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long.

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