One of the prettiest hotels in the heart of the city, Athénée Palace Hilton, impresses locals and visitors every day with its charming style. But few know how different this international hotspot looked over the last century. Compared to the initial design of the building, which was constructed more than 100 years ago, today's facade tells a completely different story. In fact, if you would be given the picture below, you wouldn't be able to identify the hotel, standing in front of it, today.
* Picture above exhibited inside the hotel
*Photo source: atuncisiacum.blogspot.com
The history of Athénée Palace Hilton isn't fascinating only because of its fancy chameleonic looks. It managed to survive difficult times and had to reinvent itself after the 1st World War, and especially the 2nd World War bombings. There is a rich succession of events, crazy stories of famous, controversial guests, as well as history-changing contexts, which are strongly tied to this glorious landmark. Tales of espionage, lovestories, success stories of artists, athletes, writers or politicians, all share this elegant setting. One of the reasons why so many stories and intrigues have happened here, is determinend by the exclusivist location of the luxury hotel, situated in the immediate vicinity of both the National Athaenaeum and the Royal Palace. Imagine all the important personalities visiting Romania and checking in right next to the king's place. Because of its priviledged location, the hotel was named Athénée Palace - Romania's most impressive concert hall (the Athenaeum) and the Royal Palace (National Art Museum today).
The hotel holds a list of honorific guests that have stayed here over time, a list you will find publicly exhibited in the main hallway. Richard Nixon (an American president visiting communist Romania), Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, George Bush, Lady Gaga, Brigitte Bardot, The Rolling Stones and many more have had the chance to explore the wonderful rooms of this timeless and beautiful hotel. On top of it all, what made it so resistent in time was the fact that even back in 1914, when the hotel was inaugurated, the building was the first edifice in Romania which had a reinforced concrete structure.
A luxury 5 star hotel would be incomplete without an appropriate ballroom, a hotel of such caliber needs a grande "Le Diplomat". On the left side of the imposing hallway with floating chandeliers, this spectacular room with glass ceiling and crystal chandeliers stands out with its historical charm. "Le Diplomate" is considered a historic monument, being one of the best preserved reception rooms in Romania. The hotel's historic lobby, Les Colonnades, with marble columns and chandeliers, is also an architectural symbol of the Belle Époque period.
If you end up hungry around Athénée Palace Hilton, the hotel also offers 3 food venue alterantives (the English bar, an Italian restaurant and a French cafe). The Italian restaurant stretches outside in an open terrace on Victory Avenue, right next to the Gucci store - that opened some years ago, on the corner of the hotel, adding Italian fashion to the luxury goods and services available in the neighboorhood.
If you plan a visit to Bucharest, and you know you are a history-buff and luxury addict, keep in mind to check out the hotel and exercise your imagination around its corners.