If circumstance compels you to overnight in Suceava, there are more than a handful of hotels, none of them particularly alluring. Generally considered the best hotel in town, Hotel Balada, Str. Mitrolopiliei 3 (tel. 0230/52-2146 or 0230/52-0408; fax 0230/52-0087; www.balada.ro; L255/$110/£68 double), has clean, tidy rooms that, while not especially attractive, are functional in an old-fashioned sort of way. Unless you're dead set on the anonymity of a hotel, however, you'll have a better experience at smaller, family-run Villa Alice, Str. Simion Florea Marian 1 (tel./fax 0230/52-2254; www.villaalice.ro). With rooms at less than half the price (L100-L190/$43-$82/£27-£51), hospitality here is a notch above that in the city's larger hotels; most importantly, it offers private tours to the monasteries. Guest rooms are simple, exceptionally clean, and have private balconies; they're also relatively comfortable, despite the kitschy gold bedspreads (and, in some cases, lime-green walls). In summer, it's worth paying a bit extra for a so-called "luxury room," which includes air-conditioning (and free Internet).
If you are stuck in Suceava with time for a meal, look no further than Latino, Strada Curtea Domneasca (tel. 0230/52-3627), across the road from the Armenian Monastery. Young waiters with Latin looks, long red aprons, and a willingness to go through the entire menu with you make this place a delight. Start by sharing an Aperitiv Latino -- a platter of cheeses, Parma ham, and Italian salami, served with fresh bread. There's fine selection of pastas and pizzas, but those with a real appetite should consider splashing out for one of the duck (rata) dishes, especially good with wild mushrooms.
A Night in the House of Stags
Guesthouses in villages and rural regions are now a dime a dozen in the Bucovine heartland -- it is here that you will live, sleep, and dine in the cultural milieu you've really come to Romania to discover, a way of life so unencumbered by modernity and globalization that it's unlikely your hosts will communicate in English. What they will do, instead, is provide you with unerring hospitality and surprisingly fine comfort, all packaged in a manner that might be light-years away from the contemporary urban experience, but has a style and rustic sophistication that is unique and will be memorable for the right reasons.
Around 6km (4 miles) from Sucevita monastery, in the teensy village of Voievodeasa, you'll come upon a striking, beautifully green wooden farmhouse. Built a few years back in traditional style, it's called "The House with Stags" -- or Casa cu Cerbi (tel. 0745-333-402; email@example.com) -- and offers a memorable chance to discover a traditional way of life, whilst enjoying relatively great comfort. The guesthouse features some large bedrooms -- all with attached bathrooms (modern, with showers) -- with plenty of simple, hand-painted traditional furniture, including good beds with wonderfully firm mattresses and handcrafted linens. Rugs and traditional ornaments bring atmosphere to a space that is beautifully modest and otherwise quite minimalist (no TVs or other modern distractions, but plenty of color in an immaculate, exceptionally attractive space). Thoughtful decorative touches include antique photographs and memorabilia representing the last hundred years of Romanian history. Clues to a more traditional way of life are nowhere more evident than in the handsome kitchen-cum-dining room -- a giant ceramic-covered furnace keeps the room warm in winter, and guests sit down to enjoy miniature feasts at beautifully laid tables.
At dinner there'll be wine, water, and palinca (strong homemade brandy), and you'll be served with a smile by a kind old lady who might not speak a word of English but cooks up a storm. Your hosts are well-established guides, and can help you organize a thoroughly engaging tour of the region, or even farther afield. A night in this enchanting guesthouse costs 26€ ($33) per person, including breakfast and dinner.
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.