Budapest's most renowned art nouveau hotel is a truly astonishing building from the outside: the Hungarian capital can give you palace fatigue, but the Gellért's perch by the Danube on the Buda side of the river, right by the Szabadság bridge, allows it to show off to maximum effect as you approach. The interior has similar pomp and ceremony, although it has not aged quite as well as the facade and has more than a whiff of faded grandeur, from the era when presidents and royalty chose this hotel as their Budapest base. Built in World War I, the hotel is 100m from the monumental and ornate thermal baths of the same name, although they are no longer run by the same company. Hotel guests get a 30-50% discount at the baths.
Wes Anderson was reportedly inspired by the Danubius Hotel Gellért when he was developing the film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (but then the Corinthia over in Pest also lays claim to this particular moment of inspiration). We'll let them share it.
Rooms come in a variety of different shapes and sizes (and prices), but stick closely to the hotel's old-fashioned sense of style, with plain walls or striped cream wallpaper, and some old world furniture and heavy, often richly colored, textiles. Many have lovely views.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Beds in the standard rooms can be quite small - enquire when booking.
In the bathroom, the historic charm perhaps wears a little thin - the cream flowery tiles feel dated, although the Magena toiletries smell lovely and the facilities are impeccably clean.
But the above-mentioned historic charm is back in full force in the lobby, which guests enter via a wooden revolving door to find a circular atrium, with a balcony, a little fountain, grey columns, red leather seats and even a reception desk with all of the room keys hanging neatly behind it. Old-school service, polite, formal and friendly, abounds too.
It's hard to beat the Gellért's pool and spa offer, located as it is next door to the famous thermal complex. Check out the Jazz Age wave-generating machine - the first of its kind.
As well as the thermal baths themselves, with their famous incredibly beautiful tiles, the hotel also has a hairdresser and manicure/pedicure service, plus various other massage options.
Panoráma Restaurant, predictably, has a terrace with a great view and Hungarian classics as well as a popular Sunday brunch, which even has a kids' corner to keep the little ones entertained. And Gellért Brasserie - reputedly Budapest's oldest beer house - is a more laidback pub-style affair, with good food and another lovely terrace. Finally there's the Gellért Espresso café, a very old-fashioned cafe where you should definitely take your Gran and buy her the Gellért Roll, a dessert filled with rich chocolate cream that's exclusive to the hotel. Breakfast is also good, with new coffee machines now in operation.
The hotel is a little out of the main city center, but it has a tram stop right in front which makes travel very easy.
For a quick meal, hummusbar (2-minute walk) offers great hummus, unsurprisingly, as well as falafel and salad. Or splash out at Onyx (15-minute tram) in Pest, one of the best Hungarian restaurants in town.
Szatyor Bar (7-minute walk) is an artsy bar and gallery. Check out the ceiling decor and revel in the creative vibes. Or head across the river to the Jónás Craft Beer House (17-minute walk) for views back onto your beautiful hotel (and the other attractions of Buda).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Historic elegance and old-school charm in spades, plus you're right on top of a big draw for Budapest visitors, one of its beautiful thermal baths - and you get a discount. Perhaps it's not what it once was, but the Gellért still packs a punch with old-school service, lovely restaurants, a sense of style, and - of course - its historical pedigree.