EAT in Bucharest:
At the Arcade dining is truly an experience. There is no innovative combination that the chef shies. He never fails to surprise the palates of gourmets who fill the restaurant night after night: Liver pâté with pistachios, tuna sashimi salad, dorado, filet of lamb, and to top it all off, chamomile crème brûlée. The ingredients are local, the inspiration Italian and Asian. The atmosphere is at once chic and cosy. The restaurant recalls a southern hacienda: large arches connect the bright, white rooms. Here a small column, there a few rosettes and stucco. The lovely wooden floor makes for a warm contrast and the whole is flooded by light from the rounded arched windows. Dinner at the Arcade is wonderful. When the weather permits, try to get a table on the attractive terrace. For an exclusive experience, park at the supervised parking lot and then receive your guests in one of the individual dining rooms ? but remember to reserve ahead.
At the Count Dracula Club they roll out all of the myths, legends, and clichés about the old blood-sucker. But it's done so humorously that you should spend at least one evening with the undead. This theme restaurant with its grizzly ambiance will not only delight fans of horror films; providing you manage to get a table, it can be quite cosy. The ambiance lives up to all the most hackneyed clichés about Transylvania and then some. Theme rooms give the restaurant a special twist: there's a chapel complete with casket, a grim cellar, Medieval chamber, hunting and ghost rooms. Waiters' costumes range from the laughable to the gruesome to the plain funny. Come here with a group that knows how to have a laugh, and you are sure to spend an entertaining evening. Especially on Thursdays and Fridays, when the owner, Count Dracula, appears in the flesh for a short show. The food is Romanian and good; bloody steaks are the kitchen's specialty.
Lacrimi si Sfinti
Mircea Dinescu is a well-known Rumanian writer. He works as a journalist and fell from favour during the Ceau?escu era for his socio-critical viewpoint. But that wouldn't be enough for him. That's why he was looking for 100 years-old recipes whose forgotten tastes he now reinterprets in his restaurant Lacrimi si Sfinti in the historic district of Bucharest. Dinescu's focus thereby lies on the revival of local culture. He uses regional ingredients and organic meat from small farms. The kitchen windows in his restaurant come from an abandoned house in the surrounding area and the door comes from a former pharmacy in a Romanian county. For his decoration the revolutionary has arranged 16,000 lego stones from Copenhagen and works by local artists. All this is well received in Bucharest. Just like the wines that are produced by Dinescu himself on his manor.
SHOPPING in Bucharest:
Yes indeed, the Romanians are proud of their imposing shopping malls and have plenty of them. So take part in a total shopping craze at least once, and stroll through one of the popular malls. Why not the most typical of them all, the gargantuan Bucuresti Mall. Opened in 2001, it boasts over 140 shops on an area of some 99,000 square metres. The building dates from Communist times and is appropriately massive, grey and heavy on the cement. Still, the locals continue to crowd the place, to shop, bowl, drink coffee, or take in a film at one of the ten cinemas. The shops include all the usual international labels?Adidas, Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Levi's and the like. But there are also less well-known brands, like Aldo Shoes, the local wedding outfitter, Alb ?i Negru, and Romanian designer, Irina Schrotter. It's well worth having a look around, although you probably won't pay less for international brands than you would at home.
Victims of fashion and chic freaks must stop by L'Armoire Concept Store. Forget Versace and Gaultier?here Romania's young designers rule. There are a great many of them and they are ever more frequently the stars of international fashion shows. Are the names Ludmila Carlateanu, ana alexe, DADA or Roxana Davidescu familiar? What about Elena Perseil, Eugenia Enciu, Stephan Pelger, Zasha oder Dorin Negrau? No? Reason enough to have a look at their latest collections. As numerous the designers are, so too is the variety of their creations. Evening gowns, business outfits, smart casual wear. What all of the clothes have in common though is an elegance that highlights and complements the wearer's femininity, Have browse around for yourself.
At first glance you might not suspect that Romania has a good deal to boast of in the world of fashion. Nichi Cristina Nichita is a Bucharest girl made good. The fashion designer has presented her creations on many a catwalk and invariably earned ecstatic kudos. In the shop on Piata Unirii slip into one of the designer's latest creations; you're sure to be won over. Elegant businesswear with that certain something extra, lovely handbags, and clothes for that special event. Too bad Nichi Cristina Nichita only designs for women, but she really knows how to pamper them. The designer plays with classic looks that are never dull because they all have a dash of contemporary spirit. Pick out your favourite dress and reserve a table at a chic bar to show it off.
STAY in Bucharest:
The Howard Johnson has made a name for itself lately with its outstanding restaurants. There is the phenomenal Avalon, that will impress fusion fans both with its cuisine and design, And aficionados of Asian fare shouldn't miss the Japanese specialities at the BenihanaThe Hojo is an oasis of calm for business travellers: here you can relax not just your feet but your eyes as well. None of the Baroque pomp that is so favoured by Romanian hotels. Instead you will find minimalist design, and on closer inspection Zen-inspired niches and corners. The furniture was made-to-order by Ligne Roset, and the décor by no less than Ingo Maurer and Philippe Stark.A night in a double room starts at 129 euro.
Friendly service is priority number one at the Pullman, so it's not uncommon for the charming manager to welcomes guests herself. The second lesson in hospitality comes from the staff that attends to guests' wishes around the clock, and turns a business trip into something more like a holiday. For a large hotel?203 rooms?it is surprisingly quiet. If you are looking for company, then try the restaurant, or stroll through the centre of town, it's just five minutes away by foot.Our favourite extra in this hotel: room service delivers gourmet treats?even warm dishes?to your door around the clock. So slip into your pyjamas and get on the phone.One night's accommodations in a double room start at around 134 euro.
Opinions are split on the rooms' decor that tries to impress with kitschy red and gold braid. Either you find it fantastic or dreadful, there's nothing in between. There is no dispute however about the staff. Their friendliness and warmth make a stay at the Suter Inn relaxing and enjoyable. With just 16 rooms and one apartment of course they can afford to take time for their guests.The building was constructed in 1900 by an architect by the name of Suter. The house was restored to its former glory in 2003. The hotel is located not in the busy centre of town, but in a quiet neighbourhood not far from Piata Unirii and parliament.A night in a double room starts from 43.50 euro.
SIGHTS in Bucharest:
Anyone looking for something resembling old town quarters in Bucharest, is most likely to discover them between Calea Victoriei and Bulevardul Ion C. Bratianu. The streets may be a bit run-down, but exude more charm and character than the broad boulevards with their bombastic architecture. The many small and larger bars in and around Smardan and Selani streets offer plenty of vantage points for watching the goings-on in the pedestrian zone. The central location makes this a perfect place to choose a café or bar as jumping-off point or rest stop when sightseeing. You can have a snack or full meal here, and in the evening the district is a favourite for going out. You can conveniently reach many sights on foot from here. And nearby Piata Unirii is a public transport hub.
You should have a head for heights when you want to look out of the window from here. The 18Lounge is located on the 18th floor of the City Gate South Tower in Bucharest, right next to the Pullman Hotel. On your way towards it, passing the entrance hall of the office building, you could easily forget about your actual mission. But the moderate background music when leaving the lift picks you up exactly where you want to get - to the huge lounge bar with restaurant. Your vertigo could become a problem on the way to your table, since the view on the Romanian capital is ingenious. The menu impresses with lots of sea food, fish, and T-bone steak. Vegetarians are served baby spinach with peperoncino, garlic and olive oil, for dessert there's mango crème with almonds and crispy rice pastry. If you're not hungry at all, you can bet on Chanel No. 6, not as a fragrance, but a drink!
E-Book and Kindle are its enemies. Soft leather binding and paper rustle sounds two of its greatest strengths. It's about the book which holds its ground in our over-digitalised age. But offering reading material alone does not suffice anymore - it's about the overall experience. Bucharest knows the answer: Carturesti. Carturesti is an empire with 13 bookstores in Romania. One of them is the Verona bookstore near the Patria Cinema in the centre of the capital, located within an aristocratic mansion next to the Magheru boulevard. Carturesti fans are particularly intrigued by the broad range of English literature and art books as well as its selection of CDs and DVDs. But they also come to see contemporary artworks. But that's still not it. They want to have a tea and grab a little bite - because the stay under the stucco vault could take a while, especially if they later move onto the terrace to sip an espresso and bury themselves in their favourite authors' books.