Bucharest’s Ugliest Street and Weirdest Hotel

It may be the ugliest street in Old Town Bucharest. So much so in fact, that I took a photo there on my first trip, without noticing the hotel behind me. But it’s also a great street to really see Bucharest right now. Because while one side is rusting stairs, spray paint, and broken windows, directly opposite is a chic modernist boutique hotel, while just a few doors down rise the neo-Renaissance facades of interbellum Europe. It’s Bucharest in a nutshell, with all its juxtapositions of memory and aspiration, a complex history alongside the striving energy for a different future, all of it sitting together on the same pedestrian street. It’s a great physical manifestation for understanding Bucharest, and Romania as a whole.

The ugliest street in Bucharest. We won’t spend time there, don’t worry. (Though I kind of love it.)

That’s the sort of thing I was thinking about this trip, one of whose main purposes was to evaluate hotels for the tour. My first option was not as good as it looked online, so no. My second option was…adequate.

This was my third shot. The street would be immediately off-putting to my tour members, but would I be able to make them see why it was actually kind of awesome? Would they see the beauty of history and human struggle, or just the rust? Since Bucharest is an immensely safe city, where even bad-looking streets are entirely safe, I was willing to take the chance. But how was the hotel?

That hotel….may be the weirdest one I’ve ever stayed in. The lobby was chic and shiny, a good first impression. Very modern, which could be a good contrast for the medieval and Renaissance sites I would be taking the group. But from there things got a bit…Minimalist? Avant garde? Industrial? Let’s go with Weird.

The hallway outside the elevator was like the inside of a filing cabinet. The floor covering was more like a plastic placemat than a carpet, concealing the concrete below but not softening it. A big square of that unfinished concrete was left visible right above the bed. Exposed concrete may be good for the architecture aspirants, but it’s not exactly cozy. But the weirdest thing was the windows.

They weren’t windows. They were doors. One normal size, one half that. Both opened right onto a sheer five-story drop. The pairing was in both the bedroom and the bathroom. This meant that I could take a shower while looking across the street at the dome of the National History Museum without anything between us but the occasional pigeon in flight. A new experience. But not a warm one.

After two weeks of evaluating hotels, I appreciated the novelty, but there was no way I was bringing a group here. Luckily, my fourth option for a group hotel turned out to be an utterly sumptuous feast of belle époque luxury and style. Easy choice. And for extra bonus, its street is just ugly enough to be informative. Perfect.