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