ELLE Decoration (UK)

ROMANIA

Named as one of the world’s fastest growing destinatio­ns, this eastern European gem is finally attracting the attention it deserves

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For all its superlativ­e gothic castles and ample countrysid­e, Romania has so far retained a fairly low profile in tourist terms. While its bucolic, mountainou­s interior is widely extolled by those who head there to hike and ski, the capital Bucharest can’t yet lay claim to the same city-break status as its fellow former Eastern Bloc-ers Prague, Budapest and Warsaw. Yet, according to a new report from Airbnb, Romania is on the (sky-rocketing) rise; the firm says the country is the fifth biggest advancer in internatio­nal tourism, with bookings for this year up a decisive 298 per cent.

One only has to consider the growth in hotels to recognise that Bucharest is a city on the up. Its 2020 openings – set to bolster capacity by 1,500 rooms – include the first Romanian outposts of youthful boutique Moxy and five-star Autograph, a collection that includes London’s sleek Bankside Hotel.

But to reduce the country to just its capital and countrysid­e is disingenuo­us. Romania’s second city, Timișoara, is set to take up the European Capital of Culture mantle in 2021, while there are dynamic independen­t projects beyond Bucharest. Most recently, London-based architect firm Manea Kelly has sensitivel­y saved an art nouveau house at risk of collapse in the city of Brăila, transformi­ng it into the exquisite 11-room hotel Casa Popeea, with the assistance of local firm Penta Stil Studio.

In fact, Romania’s home-grown design talent is burgeoning. Young, vibrant firms like Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio and creative duo Biancoebia­nca are making waves at home and away with striking contempora­ry concepts for bars and restaurant­s – as well as residences – that are sure to seduce any potential visitors. Both companies are less than a decade old and are part of a growing creative scene that’s risen in the aftermath of the communist regime, toppled in 1989. Europe’s post-dictatorsh­ip success stories are plenty – see ever-popular Portugal or Croatia – and it appears Romania’s own resurgence is well underway.

ROMANIA’S HOME-GROWN DESIGN TALENT IS BURGEONING WITH YOUNG, VIBRANT FIRMS MAKING WAVES AT HOME AND AWAY

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 ??  ?? Creative duo Biancoebia­nca’s daring and dramatic design concept at Jess Restaurant in Timișoara Above Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio’s interior for
Bucharest’s Koketerie Bistro Urban
Creative duo Biancoebia­nca’s daring and dramatic design concept at Jess Restaurant in Timișoara Above Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio’s interior for Bucharest’s Koketerie Bistro Urban
 ??  ?? Above and below London-based Manea Kelly, with local Penta Sil Studio, have transforme­d this art nouveau house into stylish Casa Popeea hotel
Above and below London-based Manea Kelly, with local Penta Sil Studio, have transforme­d this art nouveau house into stylish Casa Popeea hotel

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