London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Snow covered mountains, cosy taverns and mysterious castles are part of Romania’s winter charm and Bucharest is the gateway to all of that. And Bucharest in winter does not dissapoint, from classic music concerts at Atheneum, wonderful spas at Therme, defrosting in fashionable restauants with mulled wine and traditional Romania platters, Christmas markets, museums and beautiful bookshops. Athenee Palace Hilton must be our favourite place to stay especially in winter, iconic squares where Romanian history has been written. One heritage luxury hotel opened over 100 years ago, at points in time Europe’s most notorious den of spies, Hilton was very loved by bon vivants, political conspirators, adventurers, concession hunters, financial manipulators and trend setters alike. Today it remains a landmark of style, heritage and luxury; one of the best of Bucharest hotels and we reckon best children friendly hotel Bucharest.
We know it for years and celebrated with friends special occasions, indulged business breakfasts or lunches and now we explored over February half term Athenee Palace Hilton with kids and can confirm – it’s the perfect base for a long city break in Bucharest with kids or without.
We typically choose a Diplomat Suite which was a roomy 54sqm and perfect for all of us. One kid cot and one extra bed fitting well into the ‘office’ area, whilst we enjoyed the privacy of our room and once the kids were in bed (and babysat), the grown-ups wandered around. Not only the perfect layout and space for families, but Diplomat Suite had the added benefit of access to Hilton Bucharest executive lounge. The views from there are stunning and first night we were welcomed by fireworks. Good wines are available up to 11pm and so are snacks for dinner or breakfast, should you wish to have something smaller/ on the go. Kids end up having dinner in the first evening at Hilton Bucharest executive lounge as it was rather late for them and they were perfectly content with the pasta selection, Romanian cheese pies, grilled vegetables and fish fingers. We fed them over a couple of glasses of wine – much needed after a day of travelling. Once they were in bed, we grabbed more glasses and a light but delicious dinner at the English bar. Probably the most famous pub in Bucharest, the English Bar is packed with history, intrigues and spies. We spotted a couple of Romanian VIPs business included – but it remains discrete and relaxed, perfect for a first cosy Saturday night into our trip.
We also paired this first evening with wandering around the hotel and soaking in the art collection, including a beautiful exhibition with pictures over the time – fascinating to see Bucharest evolving over the last years. We love Hilton hotels and visited worldwide extensively, to outline just a few since kids are around – Barbados, Fiji and of course London. Some could have a slightly corporate feel about, but Athenee Palace Hilton through heritage and art collection steers away from a business vibe and charms and fascinates instantly.
Location wise, this is your perfect pied a terre in Bucharest for very relaxed days out and wanderings – facing the beautiful Romanian Athenee and the National Museum of Art. History has been written in this square back in 1989 at Romanian Revolution, when the former dictator has given his final speech very close by. The square was filled with tanks and so much blood has been spilled in the name of democracy and freedom. It’s an emotional place to many of us who lost years ago friends and family. A place for us to teach our kids a thing or two about communism and why we cherish so much a democratic society.
One can spend half days in here gazing at the ever changing Bucharest architecture in the Old City – an amalgam of old, new, communism ‘architecture’, some beautiful renovation and some historic buildings still dilapidated and feeling unloved.
Brancusi exhibition next door at National Museum of Art and Carturesti bookshop were our highlights over the years- the latter rightly known as one of the most beautiful bookshop in Southern Europe.
A long week-end at Hilton Bucharest is also perfect to relax at spa and swimming pool after a long walk or just before heading out to enjoy Bucharest fabulous nightlife. I tested with my 4.5 years old both jacuzzi and swimming pool – fun meets zen. There’s also a gym next door but family holidays for us feel active enough in terms of work-outs!
For more spa and warming up in Bucharest in winter, head to Therme: 30min drive, great facilities and chilling at The Palm, cocktails by the pool bar, a cool massage on the water beds and a healthy yum lunch. The Palm is for adults and toddlers below 3 years, whilst the Galaxy is great fun for kids above 4.
On Sundays we warmly recommend Roberto’s beautiful brunch, fantastic selection and music live. The food at Athenee Palace Hilton – breakfast, lunch or dinner was exquisite. Ample space for kids to explore as well, lobby and roomy halls or beautiful summer terrace; highchairs plus many kids options – all in there.
Athenee Palace Hilton personnel is kind and graceful even with cheeky kids like ours, from the Concierge to the Executive Club, restaurants and reception, a pleasure to be there. For a longer itinerary Romania with kids or kithout, head here ; Bucharest in summer head here; whilst more of Transylvania marvels head here and ski Romania in here– we reckon no visit to Bucharest in winter is complete without 2 days in Sinaia or Poiana Brasov.
Disclosure: Many thanks to Athenee Palace Hilton wonderful hospitality and media rates. All pics, overexcited kiddies and impressions ours.