One step inside the Grand Hotel Continental and I felt transported back to the golden age of Bucharest in the early 19th century.
Someone was playing a grand piano in a room open to the lobby (I found out later it was the hotel’s Concerto restaurant), while people mingled there, conversing in quiet tones accompanied by the occasional clink of glasses. The lobby felt more like an expensive salon–crystal dangled and sparkled from chandeliers and elaborate wall sconces, various sitting areas were arranged on Oriental rugs, and there was gold, gold everywhere—from the furniture to framed mirrors, it accented everything.
Outside, the building is elegant and beautiful as well, dating back to 1886 and located in the heart of Romania’s capital city, on the historic Calea Victoriei—once the gathering place of the 1800 aristocracy. Today, it’s a great location for travelers; many favorite sites of the city are within walking distance.
The hotel was reopened in 2009, after four years (and a few million dollars) of restoration. Today, the boutique five-star hotel has 53 rooms, and six suites. Showcasing antique furniture and artwork pieces, it also upscaled the bathrooms and wired the place for the 21st century. (Free wi-fi throughout).
My room, a “deluxe twin” was super spacious with high ceilings and comfy beds. I Ioved the antique “writing desk” (that’s how the hotel describes it) but it actually reminded me of an old-fashioned dressing table—the kind I used to see in old movies where the woman would be brushing her hair in front of the mirror while sitting at one. The LCD t.v. was set on top of an antique cabinet, and upholstered chairs were also part of the décor.
If I can’t have my own espresso machine in my room, I always appreciate an electric tea kettle and glass cups on a tray with packets of coffee and herbal teas, and a complimentary bottle of water; these were all part of the room amenities at the hotel. The bathroom was my favorite kind—with a separate shower and a deep soaking tub. The artsy sink didn’t offer a lot of space around it for toiletries (but hey, that’s what I used the dressing table for). Robes, slippers, a hairdryer…all provided. While I didn’t use it, the hotel has a spa, and guests are allowed complimentary use of the sauna, Jacuzzi and fitness area.
An abundant breakfast buffet is included in the rate along with bubbly if you’re so inclined for a bump in the morning. It’s served in the Balkan Bistro, one of the hotel’s four dining and drinking venues. After breakfast, you can walk to the nearby National Art Museum and the “old city” area where cool coffeehouses, cafes, wine bars, bookstores and shops are thriving. Best of all, a 10 minute walk away took me through Cismigiu Garden– the oldest and largest park in the city. Modeled after English gardens, it could be the city’s most beautiful unheralded treasure.
Review by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest at the hotel while traveling in Romania.