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8 superb Budapest spas offering deluxe delight
Photo : Tamás Kőrösi/We Love Budapest
8 superb Budapest spas offering deluxe delight

Hungary’s capital is famous for its historic thermal baths, but the city also has many supreme spas and fitness centers with varied facilities and services. Here guests attain peace of mind and physical bliss through assorted massages, beauty treatments, or by soaking in steamy waters amid upscale settings – and while visiting these healthy hangouts isn’t cheap, the pampering procedures that they offer can be a real bargain when compared with similar (or inferior) services offered at spas in many other parts of Europe.

Buddhattitude Spa Budapest Four Seasons Gresham Palace SPA Harmony Spa Kempinski The Spa Magnolia Day Spa Mandala Day Spa Oxygen Wellness – Újpest Sen Spa

Buddhattitude Spa Budapest

Located on Ferenciek Square on the ground floor of the sumptuous Buddha-Bar Hotel, this award-winning spa provides total relaxation amid Budapest’s bustling city center, with a diverse assortment of services ranging from personalized treatments, facials, and massages to body polishing and wraps, as well as hand and foot care. The changing room is of modest size, which isn’t particularly surprising, as most of the guests arrive straight from the hotel. We started off with a 55-minute “intuitive massage” (21,000 HUF), a form of Swedish rubdown with a focus on the back, performed with the natural organic oils of Adrienne Feller. The facial massage that we tried includes cleansing, exfoliating, and a reinvigorating mask, and the products applied by the masseuse are carefully chosen to match each client’s particular skin type. The Swedish massage is a more refreshing experience, while the facial treatment is more conducive to absolute relaxation – whichever you pick, you won’t be disappointed. Featuring decorative natural-stone surfaces, the spa section also boasts a 95 ̊C Finnish sauna, a 50 ̊C infrared sauna, a steam bath, a Japanese bath, and all sorts of fitness equipment, so there are lots of options for luxe loitering if you’re not quite ready to face the outside world after your treatment.

Opening times: Monday-Sunday 1pm-9pm
Pool: yes
Sauna: yes
Price range: 5/5
Strengths: location, interior, professional team

Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace

Four Seasons Gresham Palace SPA

We expected nothing less from the Gresham than 5-star quality and exclusive services, and that’s exactly what we found at the hotel’s spa and wellness department. Forget about kitsch and feng shui, and embrace straightforwardness and excellence. If you’re not staying at the hotel, entry to the spa costs 40 euros, which covers everything from the pool, the jacuzzi, and the sauna to the steam cabin. The day ticket also provides access to the gym, where you can energize your body before a relaxing massage performed in a tranquil room with a pretty view over Budapest’s iconic Chain Bridge. Before you go up to the fifth floor to enter the spa, you are asked to fill in a questionnaire at reception about your general health and the kind of music you’d like to listen to during your session. Naturally, towels and robes are provided for all guests (similarly to most of the places on our list), as are orange and cucumber water, as well as pampering body lotion. The massive pool is the center of the luxurious spa, with a lounge area, a big sauna, a steam cabin, a jacuzzi, and a bar serving tea, coffee, and dried fruit located close by. We booked a 75-minute Biologique Recherche facial (170 euros), and waited for our masseuse to take us into the neat and soothing treatment room. Before the rubbing and massaging began, we were informed about the French skin care brand used for the session, and we were also asked about our skin type to determine which products would suit our dermal characteristics perfectly. Maximum relaxation, heated beds, professional hands – need we say more? The 75-minute contouring body treatment (160 euros) and the 75-minute pedicure sound great, too, and the selection also features treatments for men and a mini mani-pedi for kids (30 euros). Anyone who signs up for a treatment valued over 40 euros is welcome to use the spa free of charge.

Opening times: 6am-10pm (treatments: 9am-9pm)
Pool: yes
Sauna: yes
Price range: 5/5
Strengths: exclusive, professional

Four Seasons Hotel - Gresham Palace

Harmony Spa

When it comes to wellness and spas, visiting the Aria Hotel is an absolute must. Thanks to its exclusive interior and one-of-a-kind services, Aria was picked as the best European boutique hotel in the wellness/spa category at the World Boutique Hotel Awards. Showcasing a range of vibrant colors and unique architectural solutions, the theme of the basement relaxation complex is very much in tune with the entire hotel’s music-inspired look. Book any of the treatments, and you’ll also be entitled to use the wellness area for free for 60 minutes. The sizeable pool and the special bubble bath are staples, and the stunning baldachin lounge beds with telephones add a high-quality touch to the space. The saunas have all been created in line with individual designs, and the essential oils used in the steam cabin make for quite an extraordinary experience. We gave the restorative full-body scrub a try, which is performed with the background music of your choice. The body treatments start at 18,000 forints (45 minutes), while the facials are priced in the range of 18,000-32,000 forints, and last about 90 minutes. Every second Sunday, yoga expert Petra Szappan holds rooftop yoga classes on the roof terrace of the hotel – each session costs 5,000 forints, and includes free entry to the spa. Don’t miss it if you’re looking for a form of exercise that is also super relaxing.

Opening times:  every day 9am-9pm
Pool: yes
Sauna: yes
Price range: 4/5
Strengths: rooftop yoga classes are held every two weeks on Sunday, black robes, modern, forward-thinking attitude

Aria Hotel Budapest

Kempinski The Spa

Sited at one of Budapest’s busiest hubs, Deák Square, the five-star Kempinski hotel is as centrally located as can be, making it easy to just drop by for some downtime whenever you find yourself in the neighborhood. The interior of the building exudes a pleasant and calm atmosphere, and the uniquely curvaceous spa layout presents scenic vistas over several landmarks nearby, including Erzsébet Square, the dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica, Fashion Street, and , which is perfect for providing pleasant distraction while burning calories on the brand-new Technogym exercise equipment. The Kempinski pool is not too big, but it’s very comfortable, so starting your spa visit here – for example, under the neck-massage jet – is a good idea. If you feel like you’re in the zone already, it’s time to move on to one of the massages or body treatments. Our favorite, called the “Hungary Holistic”, involves a body wrap with globally renowned, high-quality mud from southeastern Hungary. The treatment begins with a full body scrub, which opens the pores to prepare the skin for the mud, and ends with a 45-minute full-body massage to complete your enriching and energizing spa experience. Holistic not only in name, the wrap is supposed to sooth inflammations, burn fat, strengthen your joints, help heal injuries, and boost circulation. The 90-minute session costs 45,000 forints, but if you have a more affordable service in mind, you can find many of those on the spa menu as well.

Opening times: every day 7am-10pm (treatments: 9am-9pm)
Pool: yes
Sauna: yes
Price range: 5/5
Strengths: exclusive, unique services, central location

Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest

Magnolia Day Spa

As a blend of a spa and a beauty salon, Magnolia is popular for a reason. With interesting interior-design details like an arched ceiling, old brick decorations, gold wall paint, and mosaics, this place is both hip and professional. A sauna session is a superb way of warming your body up before a treatment: there’s a 90 ̊C Finnish sauna, a less-hot bio sauna, and an infrared cabin with dry air. You can also sign up for a hammam treatment (Turkish bath), which is meant to go especially well with any of the sauna options. Before jumping into everything, you’ll have to fill in a form regarding your health, so as to make sure that all the services are personalized to your particular needs. The expert team here knows everything about the best techniques, and the most effective ways to pair the different products together for maximum effect. We dropped by for a vigorous back massage (9,900 HUF), but we were seriously considering the stress-relieving neck-and-shoulder massage (9,900 HUF) as well. In addition to the express services, guests can also choose from other treats, like the mysterious Chakra Dharmam (19,900 HUF) based on the vibration of chakra energies, and the Indian lava-stone treatment (16,900 HUF) involving spiritual cleansing with a fragrant bouquet of sage and an exotic massage with hot lava stones. Several types of baths are available, ranging from the Petal Bath and the Dead Sea Bath to the Indian Sunset Bath with sandalwood and rose (7,000-12,000 HUF). You can buy coupons to treat your friends and loved ones to an afternoon of bliss, or consider it as a venue for someone’s luxurious hen-party do.

Opening times: every day 9am-9pm
Pool: no
Sauna: yes
Price range: 3/5
Strengths: has a great vibe, one of the best options for groups

Magnolia Day Spa
Address: 1054 Budapest, 3 Zoltán Street

Mandala Day Spa

Perhaps one of the most well-known spas in the city, Mandala awaits visitors who wish to immerse themselves in the authentic Zen feeling, and start the relaxation process as soon as they step inside the changing room. Featuring an interior that is slightly Oriental, yet absolutely stylish, the medium-sized spa has assorted facilities for your comfort and convenience, including an infrared sauna, tidy showers, several huge lounge chairs for you to kick back on, a few “treatment rooms” (some of which can accommodate couples, and come with bubble baths), a hot tub, and a chill room (aka the teahouse) with a buffet table full of healthy snacks, fruit, and mulled wine. You can even request to bathe in a rose-scented room, among rose petals with soft music playing in the background if that’s what your heart desires. We tried a 60-minute hot pillow massage (16,500 HUF), which entails stimulating the circulation with rosemary cream and pillows filled with herbs and jade stone shavings – it’s one of the best things you can treat your body to in winter. The hammam ritual (Turkish bath) and the singing bowl therapy (20,500 HUF for 60 minutes) are also very much worth trying. What we like most about this spa is that it offers almost every massage type there is, and since phone reception is almost nonexistent inside, you won’t be tempted to check your cell every five minutes for texts or missed calls. This is an awesome venue for bachelor/bachelorette groups or birthdays.

Opening times: every day 10am-10pm
Pool: no (there’s a jacuzzi)
Sauna:  yes
Price range: 3/5
Strengths: varied treatments, group booking is available, intimate atmosphere

Oxygen Wellness – Újpest

Out of the three locations of Oxygen Wellness, we decided to head for the one in the district of Újpest. The four-story complex has everything you need for a whole day of recharging, beautifying, strengthening, and healing, including a wellness and fitness department, a restaurant, a confectionery, and a medical center. The 800-square-meter wellness section is a great place to wind down after a tiring exercise routine or a taxing day at the office. Both the 20-meter swimming pool and the hot tub, which can accommodate 34 people at a time, overlook the peaceful inner courtyard, so guests relaxing in the 36 ̊C water can soothe their souls by marveling at a serene, snow-filled landscape in winter. At the spa’s sauna section, you can choose from three different saunas (light therapy, devil, and stone sauna), as well as a variety of infrared and steam cabins. As the name rightly suggests, a session in the 90-100 ̊C devil sauna is not for the fainthearted. If you’re looking to cool down, you can go for the icy shower or take a dip in the cold-water tub, and then either settle down on the lounge beds or pop into the sea cabin for a few minutes to enjoy the benefits of salty sea air, which is meant to have both an invigorating and a disinfectant effect. Don’t forget to try one of the massages to get a full picture of what this stylish spa has to offer: in addition to the traditional sport and relaxation rubdowns, the selection also includes pampering treatments with chocolate, honey, and wine cream, as well as a wide range of couple’s massages.

Opening times: Monday-Friday: 6am-10:30pm, Saturday-Sunday: 8am-8pm
Pool: yes
Sauna: yes
Price range:  3/5 (A day ticket providing access to the wellness department costs 2,500/3,200 forints.)
Strengths: versatility, location (both in the city center and in the suburbs)

Sen Spa

Sen Spa on Nádor Street is a small establishment designed to exude intimate vibes. Upon arrival, you can slip off your shoes in the waiting room, and immerse yourself in a dimly lit, relaxing environment. We went for the Thai Tradition package (30,000 HUF/two people) with aromatherapy bath, foot massage, and Thai massage, which is made complete with a calming mug of tea or nice glass of champagne, according to your preference. The fragrant bath lasts for about half an hour, followed by a half-hour foot rub and a 60-minute full body Thai massage performed with panache by masseurs who’ve been trained at the massage school of Bangkok’s “Wat-Po” Temple. They not only massage with their palms and fingertips, but also with their knees, feet, and elbows, and don’t be surprised if they stand on your back to release all the tension in your muscles. After spending a few hours here, you’ll probably want to promise yourself that you’ll cut back on partying, and sign up for a relaxing treatment every two weeks. Other intriguing items in the selection include a hand massage (20 minutes – 2,500 HUF), head-back-neck massage (45 minutes – 5,900 HUF), and the exotic-sounding herbal massage (45 minutes – 9,000 HUF).

Opening times: every day 10am-10pm
Pool: no
Sauna:  no
Price range: 3/5
Strengths: has a great atmosphere, cozy

SenSpa Massage Saloon
Address: 1051 Budapest, 26 Nádor Street