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If Paris, Rome and London have begun to lose their luster and you're looking for a novel way to explore Europe's vast terrain, don't fret. Way over on the other end of the continent, countries like Romania, Hungary, Poland, Estonia and Croatia beckon with 17th century castles, lush countryside, and unspoiled coastal cities. Here's a look at some of the most stunning old-world hotels to be found in the region.
Three Sisters Hotel, Estonia
This Relais & Chateaux-branded property is actually made up of three former merchant houses, built in the fourteenth century, and located within the walls of Tallinn's Old Town. Guest rooms (all renovated in 2003) convey the building's intimate, medieval vibe, but it's the suites that get the most play: four-poster beds, claw foot tubs, and spacious living rooms with the original ceiling beams.
Downstairs, guests can cozy up next to the fireplace, sip on vodka in the dungeon-like Beluga Bar, or head to the award-winning Bordoo restaurant for a five-course degustation menu (65 EUR pp) featuring Estonian specialties like onion consomme, steamed whitefish, elk "cocotte," beef fillet and apple with salted caramel.
Rates from $500/night.
Six more after the jump!
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It was announced this week that a Courtyard by Marriott is coming to the capital of Romania in early 2014. And while Marriott already has an outpost in the city—the flashier, more expensive JW Marriott Bucharest Grand—this will be the city's first Courtyard, and, in fact, just the 47th in all of Europe.
And we must, say, we're liking its look. A rendering was released, showing off the hotel's glass facade and geometric structure, organized into interlocking blocks. The kind of thing we'd expect at maybe a newer budget brand like Hyatt Place, or maybe IHG's newest, and yet to launch, health-oriented brand, Even Hotels. But if this is the direction we see more new Courtyards heading in, then sign us up!
Eerily sculpted headboards adorn rooms at the Balea Lac Ice Hotel
It's been over a year since we last reported on an ice hotel, which we took as a sign that the kitschy travel trend had seen its final day pass. But rounding out this unusually mild winter season is news about the latest contender in (relatively) cheap and chilly accommodations: Romania.
The Balea Lac is one in a series of European icy lodgings that are rebuilt to compensate for melting and other seasonal changes. Temperatures inside top off at a spine-tingling 35 degrees Fahrenheit, though rest assured, every stay includes a "specialist sleeping bag" and some furs.
Earlier this year when swine flu first erupted, 280 people were quarantined at the MetroPark Hotel in Hong Kong, we lightly dubbed it a Swine Flu Hotel. But now we have a real Swine Flu Hotel.
Hotel Sinaia, a resort in the mountains of Sinaia, Romania, has been closed after 40 Romainian and foreign law students attending a conference caught the dreaded H1N1 virus.
Health state secretary Adrian Streinu-Cercel says 40 people were hospitalized Sunday in Bucharest, suffering from medium to severe forms of the flu.
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same region and decide which one most deserves your hard-earned benjamins. Rates quoted here were captured on July 31, 2007 and are subject to change. Enjoy.]
If you're heading to Bucharest, Romania, you can easily spend two weekend nights for less than $300, starting with this week's Good Rate at the Rembrandt Hotel. If that's full, you're not hurting for choices though: European site Booking.com lists 21 hotels for under $150 a night for a August 17 to 19 and Expedia lists 15.
Then there's the Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest, where the lowest rate we could find for that weekend was 380 Euro a night, or $516. Even if you can manage to get the best deal captured from this promotion screen shot, it's still $342. Did we mention that this is for Bucharest? In the land of Count Dracula, Romania? Yes, we know that Romania joined the EU this past January, but Prague, Vienna, or Budapest this city is not.
This being a Hilton, you can also expect to pay handsomely for parking and Internet access. If the ugly standard room photos on the website are the best they can do, we would also advise charging even more euros to your expense account to make sure you are on the Executive Floor. Besides a continental breakfast, you'll get furniture and bedding that looks like it was made after the end of the Cold War.
· Good Rate :: $143 Deal at the Rembrandt Hotel Bucharest [HotelChatter]
· Hotels in Bucharest [HotelChatter]
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same city and decide which one most deserves your hard-earned benjamins. Rates quotes here were captured July 31, 2007 and are subject to change. Enjoy.]
A couple of months back National Geographic Traveler raved about Rembrandt Hotel in Bucharest, Romania, saying the boutique hotel "has brought long-needed sanity to the city's inflated hotel prices." Then we look on TripAdvisor and it's also the #1 rated hotel there.
The 15 rooms are all a bit different, ranging from smallish ones with a "matrimonial bed" to spacious "business rooms." Rates are a max of 117 Euros ($159) on weekends and top out at 137 Euros ($186) on weekdays. It gets better though: through August 31 they'll knock 10 percent off that rate and your meals and drinks at the popular Cafe Klein, plus throw in a fruit basket and a welcome drink. Not bad for 143 of our anemic U.S. dollars.
Guests rave about the better than average service and continental breakfasts. Stylish rooms come with hardwood floors, attractive lighting, CD/DVD players with discs to borrow, and complimentary Internet access.
· Bad Rate :: $516 or More a Night at the Bucharest Hilton [HotelChatter]
· Hotels in Bucharest [HotelChatter]