Located 3 hours away from Bucharest, Mamaia – not to be mistaken for Miami – is a seaside resort in Romania where I’ve spent the majority of my summers growing up, gallivanting on the beach and swimming in the sea. But it’s a place which means quite a lot to me.
I learnt to walk here, had a one or two disastrous dates and it’s the place where I saw the one and only, Shaggy perform “It wasn’t me”. But apart from all those quite memorable moments, it’s home to my family and one very special hotel in particular, On Plonge Junior. You see, it’s more like a home for me than a hotel, mainly because it belongs to my family.
In recent years, I’ve seen Mamaia develop faster than I ever imagined. You’ll be hard not to find a part of the beach that isn’t full of bars, clubs and beach chairs or beds if that kind of thing floats your boat. Yet, in comparison to a lot of other European beach hot-spots its particularly good value for money.
And in the past few years, it’s not just the resort which has improved – the hotel has transformed itself. It originally started as a seafood restaurant, before transforming into a hotel and in the next few years it will welcome an additional gym and rooftop swimming pool. Heading to On Plonge Jr, after travelling down the highway from Bucharest, always feels exciting as the promise of great company and amazing food awaits. It’s pretty awesome, which is why I thought I’d share my little secret with you.
Lemonades and lake views
After checking in with the lovely receptionist and catching up with my family, we dropped off our bags in our room and headed downstairs for a fresh lemonade. If you ever plan on visiting Romania, you just have to try the lemonade. It’s fresh, tangy and usually served in cute glasses. Better still, if you ever find yourself in Mamaia, head to On Plonge Jr for their mint or strawberry lemonade – it’s out of this world.
But enough about lemonade, let’s head back into our room. On Plonge Jr has some fantastic rooms overlooking the lake and we were lucky enough to have one. The view looks out across the lake and in the distance you can see the town of Ovidiu. My favourite thing to do whilst chilling on the balcony is to look out at the guests on the restaurant’s terrace – not in a creepy kind of way! Here you’ll hear laughter, conversations, the slurping of drinks and smell the delicious hint of freshly cooked food. We have yet to crack open a bottle of fizz on the balcony – we prefer to do this on the terrace but more on that later.
The bedrooms are of an extremely generous size with plenty of space for luggage to be stored and clothes to be kept. Even the beds are huge with plenty of room to spread out and even forget that you’re sharing a bed! Plus there’s also this really cool rocking chair which keeps me occupied while I wait for Bogdan to finish getting ready.
But one of the best things about the rooms for me – aside from the huge closet, comfy bed and lovely lake view – is the bathrooms. There’s just something about a hotel bathroom which can make me feel so relaxed. The large rainfall shower head is an obvious reason, I could literally stand under it for hours daydreaming and it leaves me feeling so refreshed before I peel away my pruned body from the shower – what a sight! I then love wrapping the crisp and clean bathrobe around me – pure bliss!
Sunsets and good food
Once we get spruced up and dressed, we usually make our way downstairs to the restaurant for dinner and drinks. In my opinion, one of the best things about the hotel is the restaurant. It’s so great to be able to walk a few meters from your bed to a great restaurant which prepares fresh seafood daily. Mamaia does have plenty of bars and restaurants, but there is something so special and simple about the hotel’s own. In fact, we only ever eat in this restaurant when we visit Mamaia. Perhaps we’re creatures of habit, but it’s worth it.
Making your way down into the lobby and restaurant, you’d be hard not to spot the large photos decorating the walls and diving memorabilia. The photographs actually showcase the story of my uncle who was a well known diver in the 1970s & 80s. He originally too the plunge and launched On Plonge (a seafood restaurant) in the city of Constanta, before moving onto other projects. Essentially, the photographs tell the story of my uncle and auntie’s achievements and the On Plonge journey. I always seem to learn something new about them during every visit.
I love seafood and it’s one thing I have to eat whilst abroad – for some reason it always tastes so much better! Thankfully, the main specialities at On Plonge Jr is the seafood. Over the course of our stay, I make sure I fill myself up with as much fresh seafood as possible – whether that’s by having a paella stuffed with mussels, prawns and squid or the grilled seafood platter.
But it’s equally a tough decision because the pizza at the hotel is one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s light, full of flavour and incredibly moorish. Once we’ve stuffed ourselves silly with seafood, pizza and don’t forget those lemonades – there somehow seems to be space for a slice of cheesecake. And I’m not just talking any kind of cheesecake, oh no – Oreo cheesecake. Crunchy, creamy and sweet – it’s pretty much as perfect as cheesecake can be.
I think the best thing about the hotel’s restaurant (minus the food and drink!) is the memory of sipping a milkshake on the terrace, while watching the sunset. Just a short walk away from the tables, you can find a wooden love seat which is the perfect place to chill and relaxed with your loved one. It literally feels like a million miles away and I have to say, it’s one of my happy places.
While Romania is slowly but surely coming onto plenty of travel destination ideas lists, the idea of Mamaia is only really known to a few. In a lot of ways, I like how it’s still hidden under the radar – but if you fancy spending a week on the beach in Romania and are looking for the perfect hotel, you’ll find it at On Plonge Jr.