Now called the Athenee Palace Hilton, in 1912, on the location of the former Gherasi Inn, Romanians started building the Athenee Palace Bucharest. Designed by French architect Théophile Bradeau. It was the first grandiose building in the Capital with a reinforced concrete skeleton. Its inauguration took place in 1914.
The Athenee Palace Bucharest has a very interesting history
Luxurious, opulent, and full of important people in Europe between the two World Wars, the Athenee Palace was connected to Secret Services, and newsrooms of international newspapers in want of first hand information.
In the First World War, when Von Mackensen occupied Bucharest, he established his headquarters in the Athenee Palace. And the officers of the imperial army were also accommodated here, between December 1916 and December 1918. Meantime, the American war correspondent, John Reed, stayed here and he even mentioned the hotel in his column. The famous John Reed, whose name was used to baptize millions of Russian children (as Johnreed) was ruthless with Bucharest ,saying that it was the town with the most cocottes in the world.
Athenee Palace Bucharest survived heavy bombing in 1941, though with all its windows broken by explosions. Nevertheless, after the war, the building was restored and it managed to keep its charm.
Countess Waldeck, Newsweek’s correspondent to Bucharest, was so impressed with the history of the hotel, she wrote a book on it in the ‘40s where she mentioned that the Athenee Palace Bucharest was one of the most visited places in Europe by royals and famous journalists. The Countess observed the Nazi invasion in the Second World War closely. During this time, King Carol first tried placating the Nazis, but later abdicated the throne and his son, Prince Michael became king. Carol departed Romania in 1940 to never see his son again. In order to get secret information, Waldeck attended dinners with diplomats and Nazi officers. Rose De Waldeck lived here during the saddest and the most scarred 7 months in the Romanian history.
The building of the hotel had incredible advantages, because as the writer, Ioana Ieronim mentions, there were precise points in the Athenee Palace Bucharest, from where one could hear from one floor to another. American journalists played this game and whispered false rumors to be heard by German spies. So the building itself was an espionage center, and the difference between truth and manipulation took place within it.
Rose De Weldeck published her volume in Romania a few months after the USA declared war with Germany, following Pearl Harbour.
In the ‘30s and ‘40s, the Athenee Palace Bucharest’s English Bar used to be one of the most popular places in the city. A wide variety of cocktails and cigars has attracted not only locals, but foreign ministers, writers and other personalities (Marco Van Basten, Joe Cocker, Sting and the Rolling Stones for example, and more recently the likes of Lady GaGa).
Richard Nixon, the American president stayed here during his visit in 1968. One chef back then was Iulian Stanciu, who still remembers how he and his team prepared traditional food for the entire US delegation.
Throughout its long history, Athenee Palace Bucharest, has been one of the coziest hotels you’ll ever see.
It impresses with stunning flower arrangements in the lobby, fluffy duvets and pillows, and surrounding music. The lobby of the Athenee Palace Bucharest, was nicknamed Les Collonnades, with its marble columns and chandeliers, and is an architectural landmark from the Belle Époque Period.
What else you should know:
- it is located nearby lots of historic attractions, theatres, shops, and cafes,
- it lies within walking distance from the Old Town, shopping on the Victoriei Street and the Magheru Blvd,
- it is now a hotel from a renowned chain of hotels – Hilton, that is,
- it takes you just 40 minutes to get here from Henri Coanda International Airport,
- for 100 years, the Athenee Palace Bucharest has been one of the city’s most sophisticated and prestigious landmarks.