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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Hotel Insider: Sheraton Bucharest, Romania

This well-located hotel with a reassuringly familiar brand is let down by staff who seem to wish you weren’t there

The Sheraton Bucharest's new-build glass-and-concrete tower. Sheraton
The Sheraton Bucharest's new-build glass-and-concrete tower. Sheraton

The welcome

I land in Bucharest on an evening flight, and the journey from Henri Coanda International Airport to the hotel takes about 30 minutes. The lobby is fairly deserted when I arrive, which means check-in is swiftly completed before I’m off to my room.

The neighbourhood

In an accessible location at the north end of Bucharest’s old town, the Sheraton is near to several of the city’s museums, the overbearingly massive Palace of the Parliament and the impressive Roman Athenaeum concert hall. The immediate surrounding area has a distinctly old Eastern Bloc feel, with communist-era architecture contrasting with the Sheraton’s new-build glass-and-concrete tower.

The room

The classic king room is sufficiently spacious, with a work desk, small sofa chair and decent wardrobe space. Sheraton Bucharest
The classic king room is sufficiently spacious, with a work desk, small sofa chair and decent wardrobe space. Sheraton Bucharest

My sixth-floor classic king room is sufficiently spacious, with a work desk, small sofa chair and decent wardrobe space. It’s not all good news, though: the safe is broken, the internet is free and password-free, yet doesn’t seem to allow web pages to load, while a few amenities that you might expect at a five-star hotel are conspicuous by their absence (no shaving or dental kits, for example).

It also proves the perfect room for anybody who is afraid of the dark – the blue digital digits of the TV clock act like a night light once all other bulbs are turned off. In-room food and drinks charges are steep for such an ordinarily cheap country – a small bottles of Evian, for example, costs 22 Romanian leu (Dh21). Even in the capital city, that seems somewhat excessive.

The service

Functional, with a side order of Eastern European brusqueness, although one member of reception staff is rather more jovial at check-out. The restaurant staff aren’t especially attentive, however, and give the general impression that they would rather you weren’t there.

The scene

The lobby. Sheraton Bucharest
The lobby. Sheraton Bucharest

The hotel isn’t at all busy during my stay, but most of the fellow guests who I do encounter seem to be middle-aged Romanians on business trips.

The food

Japanese restaurant Benihana will be familiar to many in the Middle East, although its signature live teppanyaki fun doesn’t happen in the Sheraton’s incarnation when I dine there: a late dinner means that I’m the only guest in the entire restaurant, and my waiter strongly hints that sushi is the only menu option I will be getting at this hour. The eel nigiri (two pieces for 45 leu [Dh43]) is passable, while I also try the when-in-Rome choice of Bucharest makimono (59 leu [Dh57]), which is much better value for money, with 10 rolls stuffed with tuna, salmon and sea bass, but doesn’t taste especially fresh.

Breakfast (€22 [Dh97]) at the Avalon all-day-dining restaurant, also on the first floor, is a buffet with all the usual options – juices, hot dishes, yogurts, cereals, pastries and breads, and omelette station – but it’s also a fairly joyless affair. The first evidence of service I receive is halfway into my meal, to inform me the buffet is about to close, at which point I finally get to order a coffee.

Loved

The location.

Hated

The service in the restaurants leaves something to be desired.

The verdict

The Sheraton’s familiar five-star feeling is a reassuring presence in the Romanian capital.

The bottom line

Double rooms at the Sheraton Bucharest cost from €108 (Dh477) per night, including Wi-Fi and taxes, but excluding breakfast.

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