Malá Strana hotel offers guests a little piece of history
Prague is full of hotels: from the huge and the ultramodern to cozy, intimate getaways. What most travelers remember is the level of service offered, the location and sometimes the hotel’s amenities. Inviting, boutique-type hotels also often present a unique design and decorating scheme to leave a memorable impression on their guests. One such hotel is the tiny Green Lobster, located in Malá Strana.
Opened two years ago by Garzotto Hotels and Resorts, the hotel originally offered only six executive suites. Last spring, they expanded by purchasing a building across the street and increasing their room quota by 14 standard and deluxe rooms. The buildings are comparable because of their history, but designers took care to give them each their own personality.
“The buildings are from the 14th century,” explains Jaroslav Amler, the Green Lobster’s front office manager. “They went through many style changes, but it was mainly Baroque, and the designers kept that.”
Both buildings used to be private homes, so the layout is complicated by a variety of floor plans, levels and other nuances. Architect Jan Koutský used this to his advantage when designing the rooms using period themes throughout.
The past can also be blamed for the odd name of the hotel. Amler says historically all the buildings in the street had unusual names. There was House at the Green Lobster and the House of the Red Lion, among others. And so, as a tribute to the past, Garzotto Hotels decided to hang onto the building’s original moniker. A green lobster hanging over the front door welcomes guests, and another one inlaid in marble in front of the reception desk pays homage to the first owner.
In the original building, each of the six suites is unique and named after Czech historical figures, like Charles IV and Franz Kafka. While Baroque features prominently throughout, touches from the famous person’s lifetime can also be found. Period furniture and the original hand-painted ceilings have all been kept.
In the “new” building, the design is more standard with a deep-red color forming the basis for the rest of the look.
“Every room is different because of the building’s history,” Almer says. “Some have painted ceilings; some don’t. We used what was there to make it unique.”
The rooms here are a mixed bag, but all have luxury and comfort seamlessly combined. Red and gold form the color scheme, while cream furnishings, which seem to be more homelike than standard hotel, bring a sense of calm to the boldness. Wooden floors, large windows with red and gold curtains and carved wall details make everything appealing. An interesting aspect of this building is the center courtyard. Some rooms are located off this narrow space, and it makes the building actually seem like two, rather than one.
The lobby is a plush Baroque flood of red and gold, especially when compared to the sterile entryway of the first building. Here, gilded mirrors and a curved ceiling compliment the plush red carpet and gold-leafed couches and chairs. The walls have interesting moldings and architectural insets. Recessed lights in the ceiling calm the look by giving off soft illumination. In contrast, the original building’s lobby is a narrow walkway to the front desk. This difference is also reflected in the two buildings’ staircases. Many historic buildings that have been reconstructed keep the staircase as a memento to the home’s past. In the first building, the square staircase reveals nothing of the luxury awaiting guests once they reach their rooms. The wooden steps with a black wrought iron railing are perfectly workable. A skylight shines daylight through the middle, making you feel like you are ascending to the sky. White walls, beige tiles on the landing and wall sconces enhance the look. It’s a stark contrast to the painted walls, narrow, carpeted stairways and various embellishments found in the second building.
Both buildings respect their histories and put forth the best of their originality with clever designs and a creative use of furnishings. And that’s the combination Almer says guests like best.
“Usually, they like the feel of history in the whole area of the street and Malá Strana,” he says. “It’s a warm place because of the rooms, very cozy in the heart of Prague.”