The Athénée Palace was built in 1912–1914. It was designed by the French architect Théophile Bradeau. Hilton International acquired it in 1995 and reopened it in 1997.
Describing the hotel as it looked in 1938, A. L. Easterman of London’s Daily Express and later of the Daily Herald referred to its “heavily ornate furnishings, marble and gold pillars, great glittering chandeliers, and the deep settees placed well back in the recesses of the lounge as if inviting conspiracy.”
The hotel was imortalised by Newsweek reporter Rosy (Countess) Waldeck in her book ‘Athene Palace, HITLER’S “NEW ORDER” COMES TO RUMANIA’ (1942). On the day that Paris fell to the Nazis, R. G. Waldeck was checking into the swankiest hotel in Bucharest, the Athene Palace. A cosmopolitan center during the war, the hotel was populated by Italian and German oilmen hoping to secure new business opportunities in Romania, international spies cloaked in fake identities, and Nazi officers.
The hotel was extended in the mid-1960s; the new structure was built away from the street side. The project team, comprising architect Nicolae Pruncu and engineers Radu Mircea and Mihai Ionescu, encountered severe technical difficulties in what concerned the binding of the old building with the new one.
The government-run Athénée Palace closed in 1994 and was bought at auction by Hilton International, who proceeded to do a $42 million renovation, reopening the hotel as the Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest Hotel in 1997.