< HUNGARY | BUDAPEST: Danubius Hotel Gellért
Located in a picturesque environment at the foot of Gellért Hill, on the bank of the Danube, Hotel Gellért is one of the oldest and most famous hotels of Hungary. The construction of St. Gellért Hotel and Spa - as was originally known, started in 1911, but First World War delayed the works. The hotel, built in Art Nouveau (Secession) style, was finally opened in September 1918. It was named after St Gellert (St Gerard Sagredo), the Italian bishop who was the first bishop of Hungary in the 11th century.
The traditional, one century-old hotel is still a symbol of Budapest. The building was built by Ármin Hegedűs, Artúr Sebestyén and Izidor Sterk, their style greatly influenced by the works
of Ödön Lechner. The characteristic entrance is decorated by Aladár Gárdos reliefs, while the main entrance to the bath holds grand statues representing healing by József Róna. When the
four-storey hotel opened it had only 176 rooms. All suites had bathrooms with the supply of both mineral and thermal waters.
Soon after the inauguration of St. Gellért Hotel and Spa the so-called Autumn-Rose Revolution broke out and the building was utilized for military purposes. Later, consolidation of the political and societal situation enabled the general public to use the hotel and bath to its original function again. The hotel quickly became a hub for social life thanks to its grand interiors terraces and pools. In October, 1921 the International Convention of Hoteliers was held here. The guestbook was signed by famous individuals. Along with the Governor of Hungary and government officials, European royal families’ dukes, duchesses, mayors, maharajas poets, writers, musicians, aristocrats all stayed in Gellért. Julie, Queen of Holland also spent her honeymoon here.
In 1927 the outdoor wave pool was built by Artúr Sebestyén and in the same year 60 new rooms were added to the hotel. The wave pool produces waves to the cheers of the bath-goers with the original machinery to this very day. In 1934, the Jacuzzi pool was opened. Restaurants of the hotel had always been operated by the leading professionals of the field. From 1927 it was Károly Gundel, who rented and run the dining rooms. His professionalism contributed greatly to the rise of Gellért to the levels of international grand hotels. Events in Gellért were included in newspaper articles around the world. Gundel has created his three famous dishes here: the Rothermere Zander, Bakony Mushrooms and Pittsburgh Veal Cutlets.
World War II had severely damaged the building. The Danube wing burned out completely and the Gellért Hill wing partly. Reconstructions began in 1946 on the hill side and in 1957 on the river side. Today’s rooms Duna, Márvány, Gobelin, the Tea Saloon as well as the Eszpresszó were built in 1960. There are two famous dessert specialities from Gellért. Posztobányi Pudding or Gellért Pudding rich in dried fruits, and the chocolate-filled Gellért Roll, made by the secret recipe which so many tried to find out. The real Gellért Roll can still only be tasted in the hotel.
Until the 70’s, Hotel Gellért represented the frontline of Hungarian tourism. The hotel trained exceptional staff and was a pioneer in numerous innovations in the industry. It was the first hotel in Hungary where guests could pay by their own countries’ currencies, airport taxis were first employed here and Gellért was also the first in putting mini-bars to the rooms. The hotel’s Brasserie Restaurant was the first catering unit to start Swiss plate service, too.
Gellért accommodated world famous guests again. Yehudi Menuhin violin virtuoso was the first among them after World War II. Richard Nixon, Julius Raab and Bruno Kriesky Austrian chancellors, Shah Pahlavi from Iran and his family, King of Nepal, the Dalai Lama, Casaroli, who was Secretary of State for the Vatican, Nobel Prize winner Heisenberg, American Sabin, actors Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Marina Vlady, Alberto Sordi, Jane Fonda, cello virtuose Pablo Casals, Isaac Stern violinist, Arthur Rubinstein pianist, conductors Carlo Zecchi, Gábor Carelli and Roberto Menzi, composer Dimitrij Shostakovich, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hungarian-born Oscar award winner cameraman Vilmos Zsigmond.
Currently, the Gellért Hotel has 234 rooms out of which 13 are suites, 38 are superior doubles, 94 standard doubles, 49 single with baths, and 40 singles with showers. Part of the rooms are facing the Danube, have balconies with stunning views of Budapest.
Today the bath and the hotel have different owners. Hotel Gellért is a member of the chain Danubius Hotels Group, and operates under the Danubius Classic Collection brand, which guarantees special atmosphere and impeccable service. The bath is run by Budapest Thermal Waters Co., and had been refurbished lately. The open-air wave pool and terrace is now supplemented by a thermal water pool.
Gellért is one of the most frequented and most well-known touristic sites of Budapest. Beautiful decorations of the hotel include the tiles produced by the Zsolnay factory, the columns in the Jacuzzi, and the colorful statues. In Gellért Bath most healing spa treatments are available such as balneo-therapy, mechano-therapy, electro-therapy, mud treatments, etc). It has a complex physio-therapy department and inhalatorium.
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