Located in the southeast of Romania, Bucharest, its capital and largest city, is definitely one of the hidden gems of Eastern Europe. With a centuries-old history, it was first mentioned as a residence of Vlad III (the Impeller), ruler of Wallachia, in 1459; a relativly ‘new’ municipality at the time compared to its older western European relatives.
By the 17th century, it had become one the wealthiest cities in eastern Europe, being officially declared capital of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1862. Nowadays Bucharest continues to flourish and offers those who decide to pay it a visit a lot of fun things to do and many places to discover.
It also had some of the best Wifi coverage in the world, so it’s definitely a posh getaway with plenty of affordable luxury surprises.
Stellar accommodation in boutique hotels
First things first, a good place to stay. Bucharest does not shy from presenting its visitors with affordable luxury hotels. A real bargain in comparison to the ones in western Europe or US, the fine accommodation spots in Bucharest offer a variety of options, from well-known chain hotels to cosier boutique affairs.
Situated in the very heart of the city, on the most beautiful and history-filled boulevard Calea Victoriei, Grand Hotel Continental is a perfect choice for those looking for a beautiful place to stay with a good dash of history in it. The hotel prizes itself for preserving its authentic furnishings that makes it so special alongside the architecture of a Heritage State Building.
With a cosier vibe and a different style, a real hidden gem, literally, of classy hospitality that stands out is Epoque Hotel Relais & Chateau. Even though situated in the city centre, within walking distance of another of Bucharest’s famous treasures Cișmigiu Garden, its location is somehow concealed from immediate view. It reveals itself in the most unexpected and beautiful way to those who decide to pass through its doors. Beautiful inside and out, Epoque Relais & Chateau, a true “retreat in the heart of the city”, is ready to indulge any taste, gourmet included.
“Business and wellness” are at home in any of the three hotels of the Residence Hotels chain, the first boutique hotels in Bucharest. Situated in the north area of the city, Domenii Plaza and Arc de Triomphe manage to mix perfectly modern luxury with a classical vibe in their stylish, welcoming rooms.
A former residence of Romanian nobility and located in Mogoșoaia, a residential area close to the city and the Henri Coanda airport, La Conac (At the Mansion) is a must-have experience for those interested in a taste of the whole Romanian traditional authenticity package.
The prize for one of the best views (definitely the highest) over the city goes to Intercontinental. When it comes to elegant décor, Intercontinental definitely takes the cake. One of the highest buildings in the city and the whole country, this five-star hotel was built in the communist period and it’s the only hotel with a conference centre and a spa situated at more than 70 m above the ground. The hotel concierge is available to plan your whole itinerary while you enjoy your meal at one of the hottest places for Sunday brunch in Bucharest.
Bucharest is also a good spot for spa enthusiasts. The city offers many of these oases of wellness as an amenity in itself or as a part of the four and five-star hotels in the city.
Eden Spa of the Grand Hotel Continental mentioned above is one such place, made for indulging in some quality time with your family, friends, significant other or just by yourself. A classical hot stone massage, a session of Thai Yoga, or simply well-deserved relaxation to dust off a busy day in the city, the Tranquillity Spa Lounge will help you forget any stress in the most comforting way.
Lovers of Zen will surely appreciate the flawless fusion between design, art and… spa at the international Shiseido Spa (on the outskirts of Bucharest), a part of the Stejarii Country Club, just the setting to unwind and let yourself be pampered. The famous Japanese wellbeing and beauty concept is a must-indulge when it comes to revitalizing your body and replenishing your soul.
And last but not least, the famous Therme București, a place where you can experience “the culture of wellness at its highest level”, from 9.30 am to 11.30 pm with your access-all-areas entry. The spaville of Europe, Therme București is situated in the north of the city, 10 minutes from the city centre. Amongst the pools and other wellness amenities, stands another visual treasure: the largest botanical garden in Romania, hosting over 800,000 exotic plants.
On top of that, no chlorine is used here; the geothermal water goes through a five-step purification process, making its eco approach a definite selling point.
In terms of delicious food, Bucharest has a lot on its plates – from old traditional recipes to modern fusion cuisine, the city restaurants will give it all.
Rather classical in its deco style, Zexe adapts the rich and tasty old Romanian dishes to perfection, a true feast not only for the taste buds but for the eyes as well. The incredible local cuisine can be experienced in both of its two restaurants located in central northern areas of Bucharest.
In Dorobanți Place, a very well-known spot in the city, you can find Maize, one of the “new kids in town”, but succeeding in bringing Romanian cuisine to a new level, using fresh local ingredients – “farm to table”, as their motto states – and reinventing everything in surprizing but tasty ways. At Maize you can experience “face-to-face” dining, sitting directly in the restaurant’s kitchen and even having Maize’s chefs prepare you a signature menu.
When it comes to fine dining, The Artist takes all the cake: molecular cuisine in a lovely historical villa with a garden on Calea Victoriei. The fresh local ingredients also stand out in Chef Paul Oppenkamp’s interpretation of various traditional Romanian dishes. Spoon tasting or not, this rather new addition to the effervescent Bucharest culinary scene is definitely a must-try.
International cuisine is at home at Joseph, by Joseph Hadad, a place also located in the north in a small old villa, and it is famous among local foodies. Here, the refined atmosphere and Chef Hadad’s perfectly elaborate and decadent dishes complement one another in the most tasty ways.
Featured image: Pedro;