“ Address: Döbrentei tér 9. / H-1013 Budapest / Hungary „
We've visited the Rudas thermal Baths in december 2010 on a men's only night. Interesting visit. Beautiful old bath in Osman style. Everything nice and clean en helpful staff. We can recommend it to visitors.
There isn't a huge amount to do in Budapest so you should always take advantage of the sites available! The Rudas bathhouse (or Rudas Gyógyfürdő és Uszoda to give it is Hungarian name) did not disappoint. Located just to the left of the Elizabeth Bridge in the old (Buda) town, you will find a huge building (if slightly miserable look!) located at Döbrentei tér 9. Rudas recently benefited from a renovation, though its hard to discern this from the outside.
The first thing you do is need to work out if you are male or female. Shouldn't be difficult but it is important. The baths are mainly a male event so women's and mixed times are much more restricted (I'm male, by the way!)
Getting in and using the Thermal baths costs 2200 Hungarian Florints (HUF) although you will get reimbursed 400 HUF if you stay less than 2 hours). This gets you a cabin to change in and access to the thermal baths only. If you want access to the swimming pool or any services such as massages you need to ask for these on top. I decided not to go for the massage as I had heard many stories about the masseuses who don't speak any English getting very annoyed when you miss your turn because you number was read out in Hungarian! To me, it sounded as though this could ruin the whole experience so I gave it a miss.
Now, getting in is the first obstacle. There are usually people at the barrier to take the electronic card you have been given and get you through the barriers. There was no one there initially when I tried to get through and I can see why they need them. There are no signs about what to do with the card, and much fumbling from me didn't produce any results! In the end, a friendly young lady came over to help and directed me where to go. Assuming you are going at an all male time, you will be handed a piece of cloth to protect your dignity! This is a very small piece of white material with two strings attached so you can tie it around you, kind of like a mini apron. I, like most people once I got inside, wore these though a few people went completely naked and some chose to wear swimwear.
Once you've been given your apron you need to find a cabin to change it - don't be fooled by the fact that there is a key in the log on the outside, this does not mean they are free! Once you have found one, you can get changed and leave you things in the cabin. It feels very secure and safe. Another tricky bit coming up - to lock your cabin, you need to put your electronic key card into the lock on the inside of the door which will release they key. I noticed this confusing a number of people but again, friendly staff were on hand to help out.
One you have navigated this minefield, things get a lot easier! You walk towards the thermal baths where you should shower before going in. Then you carry on into the baths themselves. A cavernous room will greet you and, if the light outside is right, shaft of light will be coming through the coloured glass of the domed room - beautiful. There is a main bath in the centre of the room and 4 more in the corners as well as a plunge pool in one of the other rooms. The temperatures of the baths are 16, 28, 30, 33, 36, 42. My understanding is that those in the know use the baths in a certain order but I'm afraid I don't know this plus I think it may have made the whole experience a bit stressful!
There are also 2 steam rooms at 3 saunas all at increasing temperatures - really good for the skin but I could only stand the hottest steam room for a few minutes!
The protocol seemed to just be to change baths periodically and generally just unwind - perfect! I spent two hours in the baths (and still got my refund) but I could have spent even longer if I hadn't only been in Budapest for a few days.
Getting out is a little simplier as you will know most of the complications by now but I still needed someone to put the key card in the machine to let me out! I handed my card in at reception as was refunded my 400 HUF without question.
Afterwards, remember to drink plenty of water as you will have dehydrated in the baths. You may also want to plan a lie down afterwards as you wont feel like doing much!
There are a number of bathhouses in Budapest and, whilst I have only been to one, many of the reviews I read seemed to place Rudas at the top of the list. Some of the others have a reputation as being a little seedy but you will find nothing but a relaxing atmosphere here.
A thoroughly enjoyable experience - highly recommended