It may be dubbed the Little Paris of the East, but its attraction goes far beyond Franconian influences. Indeed, there is very little of the French in Romania’s capital city, but that’s part of its charm.

What was once an overlooked chaotic city interspersed with fascinating (and chilling) nuggets of history – the fall of the Ceausescu regime and the resulting bloody revolution being a case in point – Bucharest is fast becoming a popular city break destination, boasting continental-style cafes and piazzas in the Old Town, impressive architecture and a wealth of accessible hotels.

The Luxurious

Ramada Bucharest Majestic (4-star)

Located in the heart of Bucharest on Calea Victoriei, one of the capital’s main streets buzzing with boutique shops and restaurant and just a few minutes’ walk to the old town, Bucharest Majestic is arguably one of the region’s most luxurious hotels at a fraction of the cost.

It has it all: a warm welcome by happy, engaged staff, tasteful furnishings, an eclectic dinner and lunch menu and a plethora of luxurious facilities including a spa and swimming pool, on-site hairdresser and gift shop.

Staff are brilliant with children of all ages – particularly the very young – and bend over backwards to accommodate all kinds of disabilities and those with dietary requirements.

The rooms are generously furnished and spacious, the family rooms in particular are like mini apartments furnished with everything you could want – and more.

There is level access to the hotel itself with a ramp and lift up to the room and fitness centre. A concierge is on-hand to help weary travellers with their luggage and they will happily book you a taxi – no more than five minutes wait – for those wanting to explore the vibrant city.

What we loved:

  • The genuine warmth of the staff. Some staff members remembered my three-year-old daughter and played with her to make her feel at home.
  • The vast breakfast buffet with seasonal variations. A huge selection of cold meats, cheese, fresh fruit, yoghurt and pastries as well as hot food including mixed omelettes, sausages and potato chips. During Easter they serve Oua de Paste, boiled eggs decorated with food colouring.
  • The facilities: despite its four-star status, staying at the Bucharest Majestic didn’t burst the bank. Everything was exceptional value for money, from the three-course dinner menus, room service to the laundry service we needed.

What we didn’t like:

  • Apart from the breakfast buffet, there was a distinct lack of traditional Romanian food. It’s an international hotel, so they tend to cater for British, Canadian, Italian and French palettes.

The stylish

Novotel Bucharest City Centre (4-star) 

Just across the road from Ramada Bucharest Majestic, Novotel Bucharest caters for the distinctively corporate type, although families are also welcome. What it lacks in character, it makes up for in style. The grand foyer for example, a vast contemporary space of deluxe furnishings, huge windows and bold lighting creates an ultra-modern feel, although some may find it a bit overbearing. There is a dedicated children’s corner with an interactive i-pad table and wooden games to keep little ones occupied.

Staff, although friendly and approachable, weren’t quite as welcoming and chatty as with the Bucharest Majestic and the rooms, although furnished in the latest contemporary styles felt a bit like they were trying too hard. There were spectacular views of the city from the higher floors, however, especially from the upper mezzanine levels.

The dinner menu was rather average and prices were comparable to any other international hotel so it was somewhat overpriced. The lunch menu however, although similarly priced, served some traditional Romanian dishes such as Ciorba de fasole (bean soup) and gulaş (goulash). The strange confession on the back of the menu however, saying some dishes had been cooked from frozen was rather odd.

There are lifts available to all floors and everything was level access.

What we liked:

  • The dedicated childrens’ corner – a godsend, as it kept our daughter busy whilst we were waiting for our food
  • The location. As with the Bucharest Majestic, it’s ideally situated for those wanting to explore the best of Bucharest, including boutique shops, the old town and a selection of the city’s museums and art galleries.

What we didn’t like:

  • The clinical feel. We felt the hotel was trying too hard to impress with their furnishings and architecture and it felt a bit too impersonal. The curvy sinks in the rooms seemed a bit out of place, too.
  • The cost. It was very much a hotel for the international corporate and this was reflected in the cost of the dinner, mini bar and other add-on services.
  • Apart from the choice of Romanian dishes on the lunch-time menu, the hotel could have been in any major city. There was very little to remind guests of their location.

The comfortable

Tempo Hotel (3-star)

Although not as conveniently located as some – it’s a five/ten-minute walk to the city centre depending on your walking speed/ability – this hotel offers excellent value for money and pleasant rooms. A balcony view is available from some rooms where you can watch electric street trams make their way down narrow roads and streets or admire the rooftop view of an ever-changing city.

There are lovely touches in the rooms, such as a single rose placed on the bed or a scenic mural above behind the headboard, fresh flowers placed at the window or a large indoor plant placed near the bed.

There is a lift available to all levels whilst it’s level-access into the hotel itself and the ground floor. The breakfast room is small, but will easily fit a wheelchair or two. Breakfast is a basic self-service for fruit, meats and cheese but those wanting a hot breakfast can order an omelette plus tea and coffee separately with staff.

Staff are friendly and approachable and do speak English, though as with everyone in Romania, are delighted if customers try to speak a little Romanian.

What we liked:

  • The huge array of freebies in the room ranging from the usual tea and coffee sachets, to sewing kits, toothbrushes, combs, razors and shower caps.
  • The personal touches in the rooms such as the plants and flowers and the small private balconies.
  • The fish tank reception desk

What we didn’t like:

  • The location. It was 15 minutes’ walk from the nearest metro and felt a long walk until you reached some of the tourist attractions.
  • Having to ask separately for tea and coffee rather than being able to help yourself and enjoying several hot drinks over breakfast.

 The traditional

Le Boutique Hotel Moxa (4-star)

Boutique Hotel Moxa, situated on the historic Calea Victorei, near to Hotel Majestic, provides guests with the best of both worlds – traditional Romanian charm coupled with international luxury. The hotel features a health suite including a fitness centre, sauna and a rather wonderful massage service, suitable for all health conditions.

Their rooms, complete with gold-trimmed mirrors, traditional Romanian décor, and beautiful paintings, are spacious and comfortable and boast good views of the city.

Decorative iron gates and window dividers are visible throughout with modern-style sconces, reflecting the Romanian taste for hand-carved decorations whilst the contemporary hotel terrace bordered with neat trees and shrubs provides a relaxing spot to soak up the sun during summer months.

Hotel staff are extremely accommodating and happy to go over and above to ensure their guest’s comfort. In fact, the hotel is often the location of celebrity photoshoots, particularly during Valentines where the hotel takes on the seasonal theme.

Breakfast is a decent spread of cheese and cold meats, yoghurt, fresh fruit and pastries. Tea, coffee and fresh fruit juices are provided on-tap.

Although there is a lift to most floors, there are two entrance steps to the hotel itself and access to the health suite can only be accessed by stairs.

What we liked:

  • The Romanian ambience – it was very much a Romanian hotel for the traveller wanting an authentic taste of Bucharest
  • The traditional Romanian breakfast
  • The health suite and massage facilities
  • The spacious, beautifully furnished rooms.

What we didn’t like:

  • The location. Although on the same (very long) street as the Novotel and Majestic, it was at the ‘wrong end’ and so a good twenty minutes’ walk to the old town and at least ten minutes’ to the nearest metro stop.