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In a country where the service industry was for a long time associated with spying on guests for the Communist government, service does not always meet expectations, but accommodations are steadily improving. Hotels are rated according to a star system, which is a moderately informative guide to the type of facilities you can expect to find. However, genuine quality often hides in the details, and there are many three-star properties that are more intimate and classy than their four- or even five-star neighbors. Pensiunea (basically, a family-run guesthouse or scaled-down version of a hotel) may be rated two or three stars (or "daisies"), because they offer meals and bedrooms with en suite facilities; in the same star category, however, you may find a much better villa which simply doesn't have an elevator.

When booking a room, note that a "double" usually refers to a twin-bedded unit; double-bedded guest rooms are frequently referred to as "matrimonials." To eliminate any misunderstanding, it's best to request a "matrimonial double," and top this with a request for a "king-size" bed, which will not really impact the size of the bed, but will ensure that you don't have two singles. And be suspicious of accepting accommodations when you're told that only the expensive suite is available as this is usually pure nonsense.

Staying with the Locals -- Homestays, pensiunea, and rural guesthouses are an excellent way of getting to grips with village or community life; in rural areas, there are an unprecedented number of agritourism schemes enabling you to stay with local families at low cost. Be warned, however, that life for some of these families may be fairly simple; you'll be expected to put up with similar conditions. Always check if there is regular hot water, electricity supply, and bathroom facilities (in this chapter, you'll find mention of any problems in this regard). For extensive homestay options across the country, contact A.N.T.R.E.C. (National Association of Rural, Ecological and Cultural Tourism), Str. Maica Alexandra 7, Bucharest (tel. 021/223-7024; fax 021/222-8001; www.antrec.ro), which has an excellent online booking system with helpful details of its network of guesthouses.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.