Airport Oasis

The Prague Post

Courtyard by Marriott haven for weary travelers

“Your oasis at the airport, where time flies by.”

That’s how Martin Žídek, sales and marketing director of the Courtyard by Marriott Prague Airport, likes to describe the new hotel, which opened last April and is just a short walk from Ruzyně International’s boarding gates. The place is certainly a change from your typical nearby airport accommodations, where style, service and dining options can sometimes fall by the wayside, because proprietors know that stranded passengers likely have nowhere else to go.

“Airport hotels are perceived as being old and worn-out,” Žídek says. But “for the passengers who get stuck here [at the Marriott], they feel the space — it’s fresh and spacious.”

Airport hotels tend to operate a bit differently from your standard city-center ones. Generally they are the first places called if a flight gets delayed or canceled. Žídek adds that Courtyard by Marriott, in particular, sees a lot of “day-stayers,” those who may be traveling to Prague for just the day on business, or people passing through with a long layover. Marriott, Žídek notes, took into consideration the variety of guests they would be seeing when designing their new property.

Walking into the lobby is your first clue that design and style were important steps in the project planning. Besides being extremely large, it is bright and airy, thanks to the front wall of windows and live plants. Off-white marble tiles provide a simple backdrop for the moss-colored-fabric chairs, neatly paired with maroon leather couches. The colorful throw pillows scattered on the furnishings are homey touches. Large, round hanging lamps match the floor ones. A good amount of seating is grouped “conversational-style” throughout the lobby, and a small section on the far left side is slightly separated for a little extra privacy. Open black shelving, stylishly displaying pottery and other knick-knacks, accents the room nicely. The actual reception desk seems like it is practically an afterthought to the living-room layout of the rest of the lobby. Set directly opposite the entry doors, it’s a warm, golden, welcoming area.

The “light-conquers-darkness” theme is apparent as you ascend the stairs. The entire front of the building is windows, and the soaring ceiling offers up a beautiful central atrium area. The second floor is dedicated to the hotel’s restaurant and meeting rooms. It is the third floor, however, that definitely takes top honors here. The open ceiling plan nearly makes you feel you are outside, standing on a Mediterranean hilltop. There’s a Zen rock and sand garden as well as a garden with orange, lemon and olive trees and fresh jasmine. The supporting columns are wrapped beautifully in spiraling ivy. The flooring is reminiscent of a hillside path — swirls of orange, burnt-red and yellow. An interesting detail is the choice of lighting for this area. Žídek says the lights are actually reflected up toward mirrored panels. These mirrors then reflect the light back down, making for a soft glow, especially in the evenings. Small chairs and tables are scattered around for guests to sit and truly enjoy the peace.

The hallways, painted a soft gold with recessed lighting, are carpeted in bright yellow and red. Red, gold and green are the colors given to the guest rooms, brightening up the beige walls and white linens. A simple wood is used for the wardrobes, desks and headboards. A small table and chair, plus spotlights for nighttime reading attached to the headboards, are cozy touches. Again, a huge window covers one wall of each room, ensuring natural light gets in. Even the bathrooms offer “natural” light — small windows bring some daylight into what’s usually only a fluorescent glow.

Luckily, you don’t have to be staying overnight to enjoy Marriott’s tranquility. A covered walkway from Ruzyně’s Terminal 2 links onto the hotel’s second floor. Here you’ll find Oléo Pazzo, the hotel’s restaurant-bar-café. The space is subtly subdivided into four sections. The bar area dominates the middle and is offset with wooden floors and high chairs. The café is off to the left of the bar featuring a combination of low chairs and benches. A stone wall adds interesting texture and tons of black-framed photographs of Mediterranean scenes again give off a homey vibe. To the right of the bar is the main restaurant area, complete with an open kitchen. Large curtains can be pulled to partition the room even further for private parties or meetings. It’s Žídek’s favorite spot.

“People may be flying in or out,” he says. “A business meeting is going on in the café, while others are having lunch in the dining room, the chefs are cooking. It’s always in motion.”

Such is an airport hotel. But the motion in here is soothing and leisurely — perfect for the road-weary traveler.