Casa Popeea by Manea Kella

Casa Popeea is a boutique hotel that transforms the space, light and charm of a historic building while balancing it with the contemporary needs of its guests, offering fresh thinking as regards future development within the historic Hellenic quarter of Brăila, Romania.

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About Casa Popeea

The Art Nouveau Jewel: Casa Popeea’s Origins

In 1900, a Greek merchant built Casa Popeea in the Art Nouveau style. This iconic structure stands in Brăila, Romania’s historic Hellenic quarter. Sadly, a fire in 1923 caused significant damage. Post-World War II, the Socialist regime seized the property, leading to neglect. After regime change in 1989, neglect continued, leaving the structure exposed. From 2005, urgent restoration began, led by Manea Kella in collaboration with Penta Stil Studio.

Rebirth as a Boutique Hotel: Merging History with Luxury

Manea Kella, partnering with Tracon, reimagined Casa Popeea as an 11-room boutique hotel. They prioritized high-quality facilities, ensuring an unforgettable experience for visitors. This vision aligned with the client’s wish to embrace the surrounding streetscape. Addressing the site’s complexities, they crafted a design capturing comfort, security, character, and charm. It’s a tribute to both its rich history and the pulse of contemporary city life.

Access, Circulation, and Café Popeea’s Allure

Public and private guest accesses were meticulously separated. The primary entrance, coursing through a courtyard, leads to a serene reception at the building’s core. Meanwhile, a secondary route introduces visitors to Café Popeea—a fusion coffee shop and brasserie. Both hotel guests and the public can savor its offerings. Carefully chosen materials resonate with the building’s historical essence and its modern functionality.

Preservation Meets Innovation: The Design Ethos

Restoration championed the original structure’s spatial context and materials. Instead of imitation, new elements echo lost originals. Dark hues in public spaces contrast with the airy stairwell leading to serene bedrooms. Transylvanian carpenters, known for their unmatched skills, joined the project. Life-sized models became instrumental in the design process.

A Spa Oasis: Inviting Tranquility

Manea Kella’s spa design emphasizes relaxation. Natural materials—Bulgarian limestone, black marble, and stained solid oak—craft an intimate ambiance. The architecture transitions visitors from the bustling ground floor to a peaceful sanctuary. Clever lighting techniques elevate the materials’ inherent beauty.

Celebrating Casa Popeea: A Contemporary Homage

Working harmoniously with the original structure, the Casa Popeea Boutique Hotel stands as a contemporary gem. It’s both modern and deeply rooted in its historical context, offering unparalleled comfort and character.

Historical Significance: Romania’s Architectural Gem

Casa Popeea bears the title “Monument Istoric”, Romania’s equivalent to the UK’s listed building status.

Photography by Cosmin Dragomir

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- by Matt Watts