Bucharest, Romania

Photo: Hotel Cișmigiu
Photo: Hotel Cișmigiu

You’ve been circling Romania for years. You started in Greece and Croatia. You inched closer as you explored Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova. You even visited the Black Sea. But you never ventured to Transylvania, Brașov, Timișoara, or even Bucharest. How have you not seen the exciting capital yet?

Bucharest sits in southern Romania, along the Dâmbovița River and near the border of Bulgaria. Romania’s capital was the place to be in between the two world wars, when it was known as Little Paris for its elegant architecture and sophisticated culture. But the city was heavily bombed during World War II, and communism followed. Though the Romanian Revolution occurred in 1989, the city only began modernizing about 15 years ago. A lot has changed since then.

The revival of the neo-Classical and neo-Baroque architecture in the Old Town, and the modern buildings, next to the old communist ones, outside of it are the first signs that things are different in Bucharest. But it’s in the museums and the parks, the restaurants and the hotels—especially the hotels—where you’ll notice the largest difference. Here are two ideal options to make your first visit an easy one.

Photo: Rembrandt Hotel
Photo: Rembrandt Hotel

Your first choice overlooks Queen Elizabeth Boulevard near the Cișmigiu Gardens, University Square, and the National Museum of Art of Romania. Hotel Cișmigiu’s grand building, created in 1912, has an Art Nouveau facade and a marble lobby. Employees wear traditional Romanian blouses. The recently renovated suites are completely modern, though. They’re minimal with muted gray and blue tones. Plush linens top the beds. Plus the sleek bathrooms have walk-in showers. Downstairs, the Gambrinus Brewery, with its whimsical decor, serves typical Romanian dishes and beer from a 1869 recipe. But it’s the rooftop where you’ll no doubt end up. Ici Et La Restaurant occupies a terrace on the rooftop. French cuisine and a glass of local wine pair perfectly with the view of the Palace of the Parliament.

If you prefer to stay right in the Old Town, on a pedestrian-only street, Rembrandt Hotel is where you should stay instead. The small hotel—it only has 16 rooms—is stylish and intimate. Expect hardwood floors and wooden furniture, original art and bright pops of color in the rooms. The spacious business-class rooms have Turkish rugs and leather chairs. Or the more romantic attic rooms have private terraces with historic views. Either way, you’ll enjoy an extensive breakfast—the buffet includes house-baked bread, local cheese, and honey from the countryside. Klein Café becomes a cozy hangout spot with snacks and local wine later in the day. While the Dutch owner and his helpful staff offer tips of what you must see and do in their city.

With two great hotel options, you should be all set to visit Bucharest now. Just don’t forget everywhere else you planned on visiting during your trip.

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