Green getaway

The Prague Post

Hotel chain expands with simple, clean décor and even cleaner energy savings

A breath of fresh air: The doors at the Praha Radlická hotel silently slide open and welcome you in from the gritty streets of Smíchov. Opened in May, the Praha Radlická is so new you can still smell the fresh coat of paint on the walls. This is Spanish chain NH Hotel’s first foray into the Czech Republic.

An “eye for people, eye for details,” is how General Manager Petr Diviš describes the chain. The design is NH standard: cool, modern and refreshing. The lobby itself is a multi-use space. The reception counter is tucked discreetly to the right upon entering, while straight ahead is the bar. Everything about the hotel is subtle; details are evident, but understated. To the left sprawls the lobby and lounge area. Low cream and beige couches are matched with tables and chairs along the window. The front wall is all windows, letting in lots of natural light. Gauzy curtains block the busy road, allowing guests to steal a few moments of tranquility in this busy Prague district.

The walls are done in black, a feature repeated throughout the ground floor. The color scheme isn’t dark or depressing, since the black is combined with apple green highlights and neutral shades of taupe to brighten things up. A long corridor brings you back to the sprawling breakfast room, the design of which copies the lobby – calm and relaxing with large windows. The hotel backs up to a park, and from the breakfast room guests can access a long terrace with high walls and trees peeping over the top. It’s a peaceful spot not at all expected in the area. Diviš says rooms that face the back have a view of the park.

The standard rooms are surprisingly large. Blond, real wood floors are paired with large windows for a refreshing brightness. The linens are white, highlighted with green. The safe and mini-bar are hidden in a mirrored closet, and the wardrobe is an open style. The desk has a cool feature – what seem to be two huge drawers are actually chairs. Pull the “handles” on their backs and out comes a cubed spot for sitting. A large TV is set into a green frame on the wall, and the minimalist style is soothing.

NH Hotel’s focus on green goes beyond the décor, however.

“In general, companies want to work with other companies that are environmentally friendly,” Diviš says. “It’s the direction everyone is going, and we are a bit stricter than most in our standards.”

Those strict standards have won the chain a European Design Award. Energy-saving measures implemented at the hotel include presence detectors for lighting, the use of LED bulbs, water filters in the baths and double-flushing toilet tanks. Cleaning materials are required to have a low impact on the environment, as are the materials used in the furnishings and floorings.

The Praha Radlická is a newly built building, and Diviš says he is happy with the design, noting especially the separate spaces and entrances for guests, employees and suppliers. The hotel offers a meeting room, sauna, fitness room and two levels of underground parking.

Opening a hotel – especially one with 134 rooms outside the center – might be considered risky in this economic environment, but Diviš says NH Hotels saw potential on the market. Though not directly in the center, the Smíchov area boasts a vibrant nightlife and some of the best shopping in town. NH plans to expand their model to the rest of the country, having also opened a hotel in Olomouc in May, and another Prague location is in the works, as well.

“This is my fourth hotel opening. I say it’s my adrenaline sport,” he says. “It’s always a big challenge. If you are there from the beginning, though, you can give it a little soul, make it special.”

The third largest business hotel chain in Europe, NH Hotels begun in Spain in 1978 and now has nearly 400 hotels in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

“Our chain is really service, service, service,” Diviš says. “I don’t want to be an ordinary hotel.”