Some say every hotel needs a single, memorable attraction and the DoubleTree by Hilton Cluj–City Plaza hotel in Romania wins top marks for its inventiveness – transforming its basement bar into a Prohibition-era speakeasy.
And it’s not only the decorative side either, including photographs from that time period adorning the walls, but also the authentic and aptly-named cocktails such as Bootleggers Threat, Moonshine Cooler, The Capone and Spiced Fig Bootlegger Sour.
Full credit to friendly bar manager, Alexandru Erdei, who after conducting comprehensive research, has created 20 cocktails from the 1920s and has gone as far as to specifically date some of the drinks from way back then, including Clover Club (1896), Ward Eight (1898), French ‘75 (1915), Mary Pickford (1920), The White Lady (1919) and Southside Royale (1890). Naturally, the bar, which opened mid-last year, hosts live jazz weekly and serves brand-name cigars including Cuban varieties.
A basement speakeasy serving esoteric cocktails, however, is not the only reason to spend a few days at this five-star hotel in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania. Aside from a young staff granting friendly and enthusiastic service with a smile, its central location also makes this property, one of several in the Hilton brand chain throughout Romania, highly attractive.
From here, it’s only a short, five-minute walk to a lakeside park, the popular, stylish Chios Restaurant and a sparkling new football stadium, home to leading premiership club, Cluj FC. Indeed, most of the city’s main sights are conveniently located nearby, including Tailors` Bastion, Museum Square, Memorial Matthias Corvinus House, the Opera House, the National Theatre and Polyvalent Hall, where arts performances take place. It is also only 25 minutes from Cluj International Airport.
Air-conditioned rooms are equipped with all the modern amenities including a 32-inch HDTV with cable channels, coffeemaker, mini-bar, laptop-sized safe, plush bathrobe and slippers and complimentary WiFi at a desk with ergonomic chair.
Meals are served at the Marco Polo Restaurant with a wide range of choice, from starters such as shrimp salad with avocado, bruschetta with vegetable stew and eggplant and pumpkin soup with goat cheese. Assorted meat and fish dishes comprise the mains including sesame-crusted tuna with mashed celery, confit duck leg with potato cream and red cabbage and turkey breast with quattro formaggi sauce and glazed vegetables. If that’s not enough, there’s always the enticing dessert menu featuring crème brûlée, moelleux au chocolat and cheesecake with raspberry sauce.
Spa facilities at the hotel meet most needs – an indoor swimming pool, sauna, fitness equipment conveniently overlooking pretty gardens, and treatment rooms for massages and facials, managed efficiently by the charming Noemi Csaszar with the finely-honed skills of masseuse Gianina Botas leaving me glowing all over with vitality.
Two flexible conference rooms located on the 5th floor that include a private terrace and a ballroom that hosts a networking event for up to 300 people means the hotel attracts corporate and social events. Interestingly, indicating the diversity of events taking place there, I met a rather nervous young girl in the elevator who had just finished her Cambridge English language tests organised by the British Council.
With its location close to the city’s main highlights, tasty, well-presented food, an enjoyable spa and an esoteric basement speakeasy complete with authentic 1920s cocktails, the DoubleTree by Hilton Cluj–City Plaza hotel ticked many of my boxes.