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Exploring the History-Book Perfect Romania with the InterContinental Bucharest

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

If you have been wracking your mind on where your next trip will take you, because it needs to offer the perfect balance between relaxation and off-the-beaten-path adventure, just go ahead and book a flight to Romania. If you just thought of Dracula, you need to set aside whatever expectations you may have and prepare to fall in love with cobblestone streets, medieval architecture, warm hospitality, vibrant city nightlife and a countryside that appears to be lifted straight from history books. And oh yeah, if you’re a driving fan, it also has one of the most famous roads in the world: the Transfăgărășan. No matter where you plan on visiting, using the capital city of Bucharest as your home base when visiting Romania is a great idea and there might be no better luxury hotel to stay at than the InterContinental Bucharest

 InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Between the World Wars, Bucharest became known as Little Paris, because of the city’s architecture and sophistication. While politics have changed the face of Bucharest, which is easily seen in the architecture, the city is full of trendy cafés, beautiful villas, stunning 17th-century churches, parks and art museums. And just a 20-minute drive from the Henri Coandă International Airport is the landmark InterContinental Bucharest. Standing at over 282 feet tall, the tallest hotel in the city, the hotel is just a few blocks away from the bustling Old Town (known to locals as Centru Vechi)—which is where that bustling nightlife we mentioned comes in. 

 InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Built in 1971, the InterContinental Bucharest was the first five-star hotel in the city and actually paved the way for others that came after it, implementing the open buffet breakfast and room service concepts for the first time in the country. With 257 rooms and suites currently available (the rest are being renovated), the InterContinental Bucharest boasts the Corso Brasserie (which overlooks the main boulevard), Intermezzo Piano Bar in the lobby (which boasts a stunning Art Deco design) and a health club and spa on the 22nd floor. Plus, it also offers the Club InterContinental Lounge on the 21st floor, which overlooks the city below and boasts a full-service breakfast, all-day refreshments, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails, wines, spirits and canapés. You can also enjoy the library within, use it as a meeting room and make use of the secretarial services on offer. There’s also Modigliani restaurant, which offers refined Italian dishes and has even been awarded the Ospitalita Italiana status for its authenticity. Ospitalita Italiana is a certification that sets the benchmark in many regions for Italian cuisine and hospitality, so you know Modigliani is good. 

 InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

The InterContinental Bucharest has hosted many famous folks throughout its years, including Bill Gates, Lenny Kravitz and just about every royal figure in Eastern Europe. We are willing to bet that they stayed in the best suite available, which is definitely the Imperial Apartment. Priced at around ‎$1,041 a night depending on the season, the suite includes a master bedroom, a second bedroom for guests, a view of University Square, a Steinway & Sons piano in the living room, white furniture made from walnut wood, golden light fixtures with Murano glass, a Jacuzzi tub, and a hydro-massage shower with a private sauna. 

 InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Booking the Imperial Apartment (or any of the premium suites) affords you option of the Insider Experience program, which is part of the larger InterContinental Hotels & Resorts’ commitment to offering discerning guests authentic and bespoke experiences within a given city. By collaborating with Michelin-starred restaurants, carefully selected artisans and experts across art, culture, food and fashion, the program gives a behind-the-scenes look at what a city can truly offer. Specifically, the InterContinental Bucharest’s Insider Experiences program includes a visit to the Dacoma showroom (which just so happens to be the home of the famous Romanian leather designer himself, Dan Coma), to a famous art house (Artmark), and a dinner at Joseph Restaurant, one of the best dining experiences in Bucharest led by the remarkable Chef Joseph Hadad. 

Dacoma
Photo Credit: Dacoma

Out of the three experiences, visiting the private home and workshop of Dan Coma (shared with his wife, the famous theater and fashion designer Doina Levintza) was by far the most memorable and unique. Coma's company, Dacoma, provides leather goods to the Romanian Royal House and his pieces, ranging from shoes to handbags, represent Romanian traditions that go back to the 19th century. With the ground floor of their home resembling a museum, it is hard to differentiate what is a historic artifact and what is a piece of artwork created by his or Levintza's own hand—most of the time, they are one in the same. Filled with costumes, vintage luggage, elaborate dolls (which, according to Coma, offer a glimpse of the height of fashion during the time of their creation), fashion accessories and amazing artwork. To top it off, their kitchen is a traditional Romanian kitchen that we would kill for. 

Dacoma
Photo Credit: Dacoma

Upstairs is where you can find the brightly lit showroom, which is much more modern and more like what you would expect to see in a luxury boutique. With endless rows of handbags and accessories, you may have a hard time walking away without filling your arms with new leather goodies to take home with you. Considering that the only way you can see his showroom is to be invited and the only way you can purchase a Dacoma item is either directly through the website or in-person, it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it's a good idea to buy as much as you can while you're there. The hard-to-find nature of Coma's designs are part of the reason why they are so unique and we're willing to bet that you won't be seeing any of your friends with the same bag as you. Ever. 

Bucharest
Photo Credit: Mila Pantovich

Once you are finished exploring Bucharest with the help of the InterContinental Bucharest’s team, we recommend renting a vehicle and setting out to experience the famous Transfăgărășan mountain road. Also known as Ceaușescu's Folly, the paved road winds through the southern portion of the Carpathian Mountains and was famously featured on the auto-focused television show Top Gear, in which Jeremy Clarkson named it 'the best road in the road.' Climbing about 6,699 feet, the road offers a lot to see and is filled with hairpin turns, long S-curves and sharp descents. Make sure to get an early start, because it is a serious tourist attraction and you may hit some traffic heading up the narrow two-lane road if you leave too late – which is the last thing you want when your plans involve zooming along like you're in a James Bond film. Poenari Castle (known for being the residence of Vlad the Impaler – you know, the guy who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula), Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall are all spots you need to check out while driving the Transfăgărășan. Also, make sure to take good walking shoes, because Poenari Castle is at the top of 1,480 stairs that climb up Mount Cetatea. You may huff and puff on your way up, but trust us, the view from the top is completely worth it. 

Bucharest
Photo Credit: Mila Pantovich

The fact of the matter is, there are so many unforgettable spots dotted throughout Romania that we would need a running series to get to them all. From visiting the vibrant city of Cluj-Napoca in the north and the peaceful beauty of the Merry Cemetery resting near the Ukraine border to discovering the Neo-Renaissance architecture of Peleș Castle and the medieval construction of the Corvin Castle, you would probably need at least three weeks to fully experience Romania. Thankfully, you don't actually have to plan anything ahead of time if you don't want to. The staff at the InterContinental Bucharest can help you figure out what spots would appeal the most and can suggest any number of unique experiences that you won't be able to replicate. 

Bucharest
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Though you can easily fly home from Cluj-Napoca, we think heading back to Bucharest after your adventures is the best way to go, because you’ll want to unwind after days of driving. Stay a couple extra nights at the InterContinental Bucharest and enjoy all that its Health Club 22 has to offer, such as the hot tub that overlooks the city center. And after that, book a massage at the spa, which offers everything from a Jet Lag Cure and an Intensive Muscle Release massage to traditional Thai massages that evoke Eastern philosophies. We recommend checking out the Signature Asian Sensation ($284), which includes enjoying the sauna, an aloe vera and lavender body scrub to exfoliate dead skin cells, a traditional Thai massage that will stimulate your blood flow and a full body mask applied to collect and eliminate toxins. At the end, an aromatic massage with specially blended oils is followed by a Dr. Kleanthous mini facial treatment.

Bucharest
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

We have stayed in a lot of luxury hotels, but there is something different about the InterContinental Bucharest. The concierge staff are warm in a way that you don’t normally expect from a hotel, treating you more like family than mere guests of the hotel. But this is Romania, after all, a country where people greet a small kindness by repaying it ten-fold and strangers will invite you to participate in their weddings, so make the most of it.

Bucharest
Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

Mila Pantovich

Mila Pantovich lives in San Diego, CA with whatever animals she is fostering at the time. With a degree in Literature/Writing and a Minor in Film Studies, she holds a marketing position at a prestigious law firm and has written for several publications, including JustLuxe, Citizine and Huffington Post. In her spare time she writes film reviews for various online publications, works on a creative n...(Read More)

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