You should have little trouble finding a bed in Romania, whatever the season. Hotels run the full gamut from bland, basic dives to plush establishments – there are now a few design hotels popping up, too. You can also choose from a good number of youth hostels, in addition to a spread of private rooms and village homestays, the last of which typically offer wonderfully peaceful retreats.
In summer, it’s safer (though only really essential on the coast) to make advance hotel reservations. If you’re keen to save money on accommodation and you’re travelling around a lot, you can use the trains to your advantage. On the long overnight journeys by Regio or InterRegio train, it only costs a little more to book a comfortable sleeping car or couchette.
Hotels and pensions
Hotels use the traditional five-star grading system for classification, although in many cases this often gives only the vaguest idea of prices, which can fluctuate wildly according to the locality and season. For example, in Bucharest you can get some excellent deals at many high-end hotels in summer when the traditional business market is slack, while along the coast prices can drop by as much as a third outside July and August.
Outside Bucharest and the coast, the average three-star hotel can charge anything between €30 and €60 for a double room. But note that ratings are not always indicative of the quality of a place; what might be considered a four-star hotel in Romania is often the equivalent of a three-star in Western Europe. That said, the plushest four- and five-star hotels offer all the luxuries one would expect, while three-star hotels can be unpredictable in terms of both quality and cost; you should, however, expect a reasonable standard of comfort, as well as private bathroom, TV, air conditioning and minibar, in most. Whatever the rating, just about every hotel now has wi-fi, and it’s usually excellent.
There is now a high number of pensions throughout the country; these are often smaller and more personable than hotels, as well as offering much better value for money.
Village homestays and private rooms
Village homestays (agroturism) – rural farmhouse-style accommodation – offer visitors the opportunity to spend some time with a Romanian family (most of whom won’t speak English) in often lovely surrounds. The downside is that many places are in fairly remote locations, and are therefore difficult to reach without your own transport. Homestays are graded according to a daisy classification system; four or five daisies (of which there are few) denotes a house with large, well-furnished rooms with private bathroom or shower/toilet, while one or two daisies represents a more basic place offering shared shower and toilet facilities. Expect to pay €10–15 per person per night depending upon the category; many places also offer breakfast (around €3) and dinner (€5–7) upon request. The excellent website ruralturism.ro lists a number of homestays throughout the country. The official nationwide body for homestays is ANTREC (the National Association of Rural, Ecological and Cultural Tourism; antrec.ro).
You’ll also come across many places advertising private rooms (cazare or camere de inchiriat), particularly in the more touristed areas of Transylvania and along the coast. Indeed, in places like Braşov, Sighişoara and in some of the coastal resorts, you’re likely to be greeted by people at the train station offering a room. Expect to pay between €10–15 for a bed, though breakfast is unlikely to be provided. In the countryside, where there is a strong custom of hospitality, people may take you in and refuse payment, but you should offer something anyway, or come armed with a few packets of coffee, which make welcome presents.
Romania has a reasonable network of HI youth hostels (hihostels-romania.ro), plus many which are independently run. There are around a dozen or so in Bucharest, as well as good options in Braşov, Cluj, Sibiu, Sighişoara and Timişoara, while you’ll find the odd one in towns and resorts like Deva, Miercurea Ciuc, Suceava and Vama Veche. Expect to pay around €10–12 for a dorm bed, €15–20 for a bed in a double room, and €25 for a single-bed room – breakfast is usually extra.
While student accommodation is largely in short supply, you may find the odd student residence willing to let out a bed, though these are largely available only in July and August – however, these are unlikely to be advertised, so ask for details at the local tourist office or town agency.
In the countryside, particularly in the mountainous areas favoured by hikers, there are well over a hundred cabanas or hikers’ huts, ranging from chic alpine villas with dozens of bedrooms to fairly primitive chalets with bunk beds and cold running water. The hikers’ cabanas are generally friendly and serve as useful places to pick up information about trails and the weather. Some (mainly in the Bucegi range) can be easily reached by cable car, while others are situated on roads just a few kilometres from towns; however, the majority are fairly isolated and accessible only by mountain tracks or footpaths. The location of the cabanas is shown precisely on hiking maps. Cabanas are supposed not to turn hikers away, but in the Făgăraş mountains, in particular, it might be wise to book in advance, by phone or through a local agency. Beds in remoter areas cost about €3–4, a little more for a private room or in one of the more comfortable cabanas.
Romania has a reasonable spread of campsites throughout the country, which vary in quality from very rudimentary places with minimal facilities to first-class sites with cabins or bungalows (căsuţe) for rent, hot showers and even a restaurant. You’ll generally pay about €3 per person per night, plus €5 for a car.
In the mountains, certain areas may be designated as a camping area (loc de campare), but these are few and far between. However, providing you don’t light fires in forests, leave litter or damage nature reserves, officialdom turns a blind eye to tourists camping wild, or, at the worst, may simply tell you to move along.