The ride from the Otopeni airport to the Radisson Blu Bucharest kind of takes you through all the sides and phases of the city. You start in an industrial area where your cab driver will enthusiastically point out their massive IKEA (wait … maybe you’re just in Jersey … ).
You make your way onto an avenue covered with such a dense crop of trees, it almost feels like you’re in the woods. At this point, you’ll look out the window and see huts on your left. This is the Village Museum, made up of replications of traditional Romanian homes—none of which are used in the capital, but can be still be found in other parts of the country.
This beautiful boulevard, Calea Victoriei—one of the city’s pride and joys—takes you directly to the hotel. It is a stunning wide avenue reminiscent of the Champs-Élysées but with more diversity, thanks to it’s longer length. In fact, you’ll even drive past an eerily familiar arch. No, you haven’t wished your way to Paris (Bucharest is often called Little Paris, though, so it’s an honest mistake). This is Bucharest’s Arcul de Triumf, an homage to the original in France. Once you are a few blocks from the hotel, designer shops begin to pop up and you will really wonder if you’ve made your way from Bucharest to Jersey to Paris. Alas, the Radisson Blu Bucharest awaits you on the right.
Now that you’ve had a crash course in Bucharest via the ride from the airport, prepare to be even more overwhelmed. From the outside, the building is pretty bland. Lots of windows and cement, and some hard-to-miss Radisson signage—a major contrast to the Belle Époque landmarks that surround it. The covered entryway takes to you a world of blue, or should we say, Blu. After circling through the rotating doors, your eyes won’t know where to land. Straight ahead on the neon blue laser lighting that leads to a long central bar? Up through the hole in the center of the building that shoots straight through to a ceiling of skylights? Or out the back wall of windows that leads to … a garden? Pools? In the middle of the city? It can’t be …
Our advice? Check in (directly on your left). Get settled, and then try to make sense of the place. Once you’ve obtained your key, you can follow your curiosity to the blue lights that illuminate a shallow pool (not for swimming) and the bar behind it. The laser lighting extends beyond, and lines the floors along the walls, leading you directly to the elevator, which will take you out of the daytime Romanian version of Saturday Night Fever for a moment.
As you step off the elevator on your floor, you’ll be faced with that exact hole you were staring up just moments ago. It’s actually a square, and allows you to see the wild lobby (if you wish), the contrastingly calm sky, and other floors. Dangling from the ceiling is an artistic lighting scheme that hangs all the way down to the lobby bar and upon closer inspection, seems to be swatches of off-white leather wrapped around singular light bulbs. It’s delicate creative touches like these that balance out the wackiness of the place and make you appreciate it.
A subtly studded dark brown door leads you to your sanctuary. No bright lighting in here, it’s all beige and brown. The room reveals a classier side to the hotel—which you got a taste of thanks to the leather lights. And that really was just a taste, because leather abounds in the bedrooms. Let’s start with the bed: the headboard is a rich brown leather, and it’s backed by some sort of larger brown headboard with beige panels, giving the room a modern appearance. A floor length mirror leaning against the wall is framed in the same leather as the headboard.
The brown is escapable; every mirror is framed in brown, and the brown with beige paneling can also be found on the closet doors. The rest of the furniture is a dark brown and so are the pillows and blankets. The deep color could symbolize the country’s dark history and combat with communism, and you could say that the bright lobby is its future. But maybe we’re overthinking it.
The hotel consists of 718 rooms, including 74 Business Class rooms, 294 extended stay suites, and a Royal Apartment called “King Ferdinand and Queen Marie.”
All the rooms have barely noticeable pieces of Romanian-themed art (like photos of the village houses), luxurious and modern bathrooms, generously large windows, and a peaceful quality about them.
The higher up in class you go, the more Romania begins to show. For example, while the standard rooms have burnt orange carpeting throughout, the apartments have Romanian Oriental (is that a thing? If not, you get the point) rugs.
It’s safe to say the first floor is unforgettable. And we haven’t even mentioned the two outdoor pools, four restaurants, high-end shops, and the fact that you can walk on water. The floor below the bar is a pool of water covered in glass. Now you can check that off your bucket list.
As mentioned, we were particularly impressed by their effort to balance out that craziness with dim quiet hallways and thoughtful artistic hints.
Then there’s the location. Imagine staying in a major city and never having to figure out the public transportation system or take a taxi—and not because you spent thousands of dollars on a hotel to get that close. It’s unimaginable, but it exists in Bucharest. More on that below.
Turn right as soon as you exit the hotel, walk half a block, and you are face to face with the Romanian Atheneum and National Art Museum of Romania. Continue walking down Calea Victoriei and the city—including the old town and the controversial Palace of Parliament—unfurls.
Address: Calea Victoriei 63-81
Website: Radisson Blu Bucharest
Room Rates: $103 – $254