Review: Vila Economat Sinaia, Romania

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Our fifth (and last) night in Transylvania was spent in the town of Sinaia. Below Tiffany will share why she chose this property, and then I’ll share my review.

Booking Vila Economat

While I looked at hotels in Brasov, in plotting out our activities and the distances between them, it made more sense to break up our trip with a stay in the mountain/resort town of Sinaia. This would put us a bit closer to Bucharest, and weather-permitting allow us to do some hiking in the surrounding mountains (though sadly the weather did not permit).

Sinaia has a resort-town feel, and (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) at least in terms of lodging options seems like a more popular weekend destination for Romanians looking for a break from the city than a place necessarily catering to international tourists.

There are casinos and ski slopes nearby, and many places have spas, or advertise their conference facilities. There are some smaller bed and breakfasts in town as well, but nothing that stood out as incredibly charming.

On the outskirts of town, however, was the Vila Economat, which I ultimately booked for two reasons.

One, to see the look on Ben’s face when I told him we were staying at a place called “Vila Economat,” which paid off spectacularly, and staying here would have 1000% been worth it for that alone.

Secondly, because the hotel is on the grounds of the Peles Castle, meaning this is the view you wake up to:

“Economat” for those concerned, doesn’t have any relation to either price points or laundromats — rather it comes from French, and the association here is more with a steward or bursar. The building was originally used by palace staff and officials, hence the name.

When I made the reservation through there was only one double room and two suites available (which is odd, as the hotel didn’t seem that occupied), so I booked one of each. The total for the two rooms, including taxes and breakfast, was ~$260, which is still reasonable, but as you’ll see in the review the premium for the “suite” wasn’t really worth it, so if you can book one or multiples of the “superior double” that would be my recommendation.

Vila Economat Review

Vila Economat was one of the only hotels we arrived at after dark, and the entire arrival experience felt a bit eery. In the towns leading up to Sinaia Tiffany and I couldn’t help but continuously comment on how just about everything looked haunted, and I think Vila Economat was the culmination of that.

At first we had trouble finding the property, which seemed to be a common complaint based on online reviews. That’s a pretty cool exterior, eh?

Vila Economat Sinaia exterior

Vila Economat exterior

Vila Economat exterior

There was plentiful free parking out in front of the hotel, and we quickly found reception. However, there was no one at the reception desk — as it turns out the front desk agent was eating her dinner in the restaurant.

She eventually showed up, and the whole thing just reminded me of Tower of Terror, or something. I swear every employee working at this hotel had a uniform that looked like a Halloween costume version of a hotel uniform.

Vila Economat Sinaia reception

The check-in experience — and the service in general, for that matter — lacked warmth. The front desk agent brought us to our rooms, which required walking outside, as the rooms were in a separate wing of the building.

I don’t want to sound totally crazy, though sometimes places seem to me like they have bad “energy,” and this was definitely one of those places. Frankly it may have partly been because the carpets were disgusting and the floors squeaked with every step. Also, I feel like they could have made some less harsh lighting choices.

Vila Economat Sinaia stairs

Vila Economat Sinaia stairs

Our rooms were both on the second floor and to the right.

Vila Economat hallway

I received a suite, which sure was… cream-colored.

Vila Economat room entryway

There was a living area with a couch and two chairs, and then a desk and TV deeper into the room. I can’t emphasize enough the extent to which the floor squeaked with every step.

Vila Economat living room

Vila Economat living room

Vila Economat living area

On the desk was a coffee machine, along with a minibar.

Vila Economat coffee machine

Vila Economat minibar

Off the living room was the small bedroom. The bed was extremely hard, and the tootsie-roll shaped bed accessory looked like it hadn’t been replaced in a decade.

Vila Economat bedroom

Vila Economat bedroom

The suite had one bathroom, which was back towards the entrance and featured a walk-in shower, toilet, and sink.

Vila Economat bathroom

Vila Economat bathroom

Vila Economat toiletries

The room also had a balcony with a couple of seats.

Vila Economat balcony

This overlooked Peles Castle, which was a very cool view to have.

Vila Economat balcony view

The hotel had complimentary Wi-Fi, and the speeds were better than one might assume.

I think Tiffany’s superior room may have had the all around better layout (though her toilet setup was a bit weird).

Vila Economat superior double

Vila Economat superior double bathroom

Vila Economat superior double bathroom

The hotel had a restaurant located right next to reception. There was indoor and outdoor seating, though it was too cold to sit outside.

Vila Economat exterior

Vila Economat restaurant

Vila Economat restaurant

We had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. The menu read as follows (one dollar is about four lei):

I had the mushroom stew, while Tiffany had the chicken with cream and mushrooms.

Vila Economat dinner

Vila Economat dinner

For dessert I had the peles cake, while Tiffany had the vanilla and chocolate parfait.

Vila Economat dinner

Vila Economat dinner

The service was exceedingly unfriendly and inattentive. Perhaps the highlight of the dining experience (other than Tiffany’s company) was that they had a TV on the wall playing music videos quite loudly, including of Shawn Mendes (there’s just something about the Señorita music video, ya know?). It did feel a bit out of place, though…

Our rate also included breakfast, and that menu read as follows:

We could order any of the set menus, or could have an omelet with bread. Service at breakfast was friendlier than in the evening. The coffee drinks were very good, at least.

Vila Economat coffee

The “bread” we were offered with breakfast turned out to just be hamburger buns that were a couple of days old.

Vila Economat breakfast

The vegetable omelet was quite good, at least.

Vila Economat breakfast

The reason to stay here is because of the proximity to Peles Castle, which is just a very short walk away.

Peles Castle in Sinaia

The grounds of the property were pretty as well.

Vila Economat grounds

In the morning we checked out after touring the castle, and headed to Bucharest Airport, which was about a 90 minute drive away.

Vila Economat Bottom Line

There’s something charming about Vila Economat, though also not really. The hotel is really outdated, and service wasn’t friendly. That being said, the reason you stay here is because of the property’s proximity to Peles Castle, so the convenience is tough to beat.

If I were to do this trip again I’d probably just stop at Peles Castle enroute to Bucharest, since it’s only about 90 minutes away. I wouldn’t stay here again, personally, unless I really wanted to spend a lot of time in Sinaia.

  1. They really went all in on the monochrome color theme in that room. The photos almost look like they’re taken with a yellow filter.

  2. So thoughtful that the menu tells you the weight of the egg (40g) and the exact 250ml you will get for your coffee. They have thought of everything!

  3. Playing Shawn Mendes on a public TV would be reason enough to skip this hotel.

    Too bad it was such a mixed experience. The food look good, and the views look lovely. Too bad the rooms and service don’t live up the charming exterior of the hotel, which gives of a nice first impression.

  4. @niko_jas – very common in Romania. Might be required by law, even.

    @Tiffany – any comments on the quality of the rest of the food (other than the omelette)? I have also never been warmly welcomed by a hotel in Romania… among the few “services” where I felt they couldn’t care less about my business, together with museums, large super/hypermarkets, and “moderately priced” (not casual, not fancy) restaurants.

    @Aaron – playing a music video channel in restaurants is (sadly) also common in Romania. The nicer the place, the lower the chance, but hotel restaurants there aren’t usually viewed as “fancy,” they’re just there to serve the hotel guests. If you’re staying there on business, your dinners with those you went to see are at a place in town, not at the hotel restaurant. The only exceptions are certain classic hotels downtown… good luck finding one, though, as many of the classic hotel-and-restaurants are now just hotels or just restaurants; among the rest, good luck finding a good one, as many are severely lacking in quality in one or the other.

  5. I really hate it when having to read negative whining stuff – I guess that I should just stop checking in and leave it to the snowflakes to read.

  6. A real shame, as that brilliant location deserves better. A designer renovation and new post-Soviet staff would be great but will likely never happen.
    I am always deeply suspicious of smaller hotels with extensive restaurant menus. Looked all very workman-like, but unlikely to deliver.
    Your balcony looked like the room’s highlight, and a much needed escape from the cream-drenched room!

  7. “I received a suite, which sure was… cream-colored.” – lol wow they sure went all in on that cream color, from the furniture to the walls! I’m admittedly not the least bit skilled in design, but I know this and allow those who are handle those decisions for me. Clearly whomever was in charge here had my aptitude for design choices but lacked the self awareness required to know they should outsource these decisions.

  8. @ Ryan
    Often it’s the wife of the owner/developer/decision-maker who embraces the décor and furnishing arrangements. They are generally totally untalented in the field despite what they may think.
    I recall years ago looking at a new townhouse to buy, but the hi-gloss fire-engine red kitchen cabinetry and the all-black bathroom were deal breakers! Turned out that the wife of the developer was in fact responsible for the whole catastrophy.

  9. I know this is point of your reviews, but why you are not eating out? Probably you might have better experience.

  10. @ Biokozy — We ate out most nights! On this evening we’d been sitting in traffic for two hours, and had a ton of work to do, and since we’d had a fantastic lunch in Brasov, and getting to the hotel had been a challenge, we were happy to settle in for the night.

  11. @ George — I had an omelette in the morning as well; it was fine. I thought the food at dinner was good, certainly nothing high-end, but tasty in that “my grandmother would have made this” kind of way.

  12. Ben, could you please go back to posting the actual Wifi speeds using Speedtest or another service?
    “Better than one might assume” is very vague… Is it 5mbit, 15 or 50? And yes, there is a huge difference.
    As a business traveller, that it mighty important information for me 🙂

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