If you want to live more than a century of Romanian modern history, this is the place. First built in a French 'beaux-arts' style akin to the Lutetia in Paris, the hotel housed the German High-Command in both WW I and WW II, then survived American bombing in 1944, and several large earthquakes. Its most recent 1997 remodeling turned it into a Hilton-managed establishment.
Centrally located next to the old Royal Palace (now National Art Museum) and the concert hall, the Hotel's main architectural feature is the columned hall where whispered conversations were the subject of intrigue and rumor during decades past. So, too, for the "English Bar" where you might ask for an "amalfi" drink made famous in the book "Athenee Palace". (See BACKGROUND below)
This is a 19th century Romanian hotel reincarnated. This is the place to be seen and where hi-profile events are held in the stain-glassed domed and gilded 'Diplomat' Hall - once the main dining room. While this is a businessman's hotel, it serves well the leisure visitor wanting all the expected luxuries.
Only 1/2 hour on an almost straight line route from the airport with parking in front. Perfect point for access to all points in Bucharest.
SERVICE & ORDER
Front concierge, desk and overall services are superior from a highly professional staff.
The rooms are Hilton-plush with all the expected small extras.
Two restaurants and an outdoor terrace with excellent menus but expensive.
Athenée Palace Hilton: website
BACKGROUND: For 6 months at the start of WW II, Bucharest was neutral and thus both Allied and Axis powers were represented in the capital. This became a spy-laden capital full of intrigue. Much was recounted in the famed "Balkan Trilogy" by Olivia Manning and also in a unique memoir of this short period by Countess R. G. Waldeck in her book "Athenée Palace" with an introduction in the 1998 reprinted edition by Ernest Latham (Washington, D.C.). Ask for the book at the Hotel desk.
ENGLISH BAR DESCRIPTION: "In its old time already, diplomats, reporters, spies and dispossessed royalty of Eastern Europe hung out at the English Bar of the Athenéne Palace... For a brief time in 1940 the bar was closed when its patrons too flagrantly violated the then current law against discussing politics in Public."
SEE: WALLS HAVE EARS - TRAVEL & LEISURE June 2005