SIGHTS in Bucharest:
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.
The Royal Palace merits more than a cursory look from outside: The palace, which dates from the early 19th century, has been the residence of kings, a communist government office, and today houses the Romanian National Art Museum. Exhibited are paintings, prints, and other artworks both Romanian and European from a variety of periods. Taken together the collections are quite extensive, so if you would like to see them all make sure you have enough time and energy. You can also spread your visit over several days. Tickets are sold for each part of the museum separately, so you can do the museum in stages with no damage to your pocketbook. For those stuck on the big names, the museum has several works by Rubens and Rembrandt. Like many other of the city's sights, a visit to the Royal Palace can be combined with an enjoyable stroll.
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!
STAY in Bucharest:
You like your hotels big? Then this is the place for you. Others might be tempted to take flight at the sight of the two enormous buildings in which the Hotel Alexander is located. The four-star Alexander, which is about to open, occupies one building, whilst the five-star version?an apartment hotel?offers guests every conceivable luxury. Obviously such a big hotel isn't in the heart of town, but it's just 10-15 minutes away.To compensate for not being able to stroll downtown, you enjoy superb service, timeless luxury, serene surroundings, an array of dining options, and amenities like spa, massage studio, fitness room, whirlpool, and sauna. If you want to spread out a bit, then book one of the apartments that measure 56-60 square metres.One night in a double room runs from 99 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.
This is the acme of luxury. The service? First-class, The décor? Pure elegance. The guests? Elite. The Grand Hotel too recalls the 19th century, with painstaking renovation recreating the atmosphere of the era. The building was constructed in 1886 in German Renaissance style based on plans by Emil von Forster. After being renamed Otelul and Hotel Broft, the sumptuous building was restored and reopened as the Grand Hotel Continental. Cinderella was not simply given a face-lift, but brought up to date with 21st century technology.Aesthetes will marvel at the richly detailed decoration. The rooms are tasteful and elegantly appointed. Particularly impressive are the suites in the various period styles: Renaissance, Empire, Louis XV. Simply regal!One night's accommodations in a double room cost 320 euro; the most expensive suite will run you 920 euro.
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.
You will have to try hard to find an equally gracious, elegant, yet unpretentious restaurant. The Rossetya is decorated in the manner of the 19th century and cannot be excelled for atmosphere: thickly upholstered chairs, fabric wall-coverings, curtains with braiding, gilded frames, mirrors, grandfather clocks?a bit overdone? Not at all. Here everything has its place, and a terrible void would result if anything were to be removed. If you are planning a larger gathering, the restaurant also offers two separate rooms. The food is delicious. Basically, the cuisine served at Rossetya is traditional Romanian fare, but with a delicate touch that brings it to a new level. If you pass by and are not hungry, stop in nevertheless. The Rossetya has a café where you can relax over coffee and a cigar.
SHOPPING in Bucharest:
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.
Rozalb de Mura
The Rozalb de Mura label was launched in 2006 and ever since customers have wondered about the name that combines the words for ?rose' and ?blackberry'. That is meant to signal an scintillating and creative mix. Designer Olah Gyarfas is himself a mix of equal parts Hungarian and Romanian. He takes an interest not only in fashion but promotes an exchange between artists, musicians, and other creative people from all over the world. The concept works: Rozalb de Mura is a lively showcase with a wealth of fresh, imaginative creativity that you will try hard to find elsewhere. Shop, showroom, and exhibition space all rolled into one?no limits here as long as the line is aesthetically pure and the artistic claim ambitious. The outfits are made for today's yuppy. And especially if you are among those who absolutely reject this distinction, then you should have a look inside. Here you find fashion of the day after tomorrow. Just the thing for exhibition openings, graphic artists, writers, artists, club nights-out, or DJs. Most of it is in black and?at last!?there is men's wear too.
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.