One thing all the guidebooks agree on is that a visit to Budapest is not complete ‘without bathing in one of its world-famous thermal spring spas’.

To be honest, we were in two minds about the idea at first.

With just a couple of days in the city, did we really need to spend some of that precious time at a swimming pool?

The answer, it turns out, is definitely yes! We chose the Szechenyi baths, partly because they are the biggest and partly because — unlike most of the others, which are usually segregated — they are mixed every day, and we weren’t disappointed.

Szechenyi is like no other public baths you have ever been to: a glorious confection of yellow and white neo-Baroque extravagance.

Three steaming outdoor pools, naturally heated by a thermal spring, 15 indoor pools of varying temperatures under ornate domes, and great saunas.

The minerals in the water are said to be good for arthritic conditions, and you can watch bathers playing chess while enjoying the soothing heat in one of the outdoor pools.

It would be easy to spend a whole day there, and many do, but there are things to see, places to visit.

One fact that most people know about Budapest is that it is really two cities — Buda on the hill on the west of the broad Danube, and Pest on the flat eastern bank.

Buda is the old city, with quaint colourful houses, and Pest is largely a creation of the mid-19th to early-20th centuries, all broad boulevards, grand mansions, neo-Baroque and art nouveau.

Nick Jenkins was a guest of Cresta, which offers three night B&B breaks at the four star Danubius Astoria Hotel in Budapest for £360 ex-manchester with Easyjet.

Cresta reservations: 0844 879 8014 and