New hotel opens in the heart of Prague
The big modern Hilton now has a smaller, more traditional brother. Hilton Prague Old Town opened its doors in November, and, by all accounts, has received quite a warm reception from the city.
“There’s a feel of the last century here,” says Markéta Šebková, marketing and public relations manager for the hotel.
The reconstruction was overseen by interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, who used aspects of Prague architecture and modern Czech design to revamp what originally was a Renaissance Prague hotel. The renovations started at the beginning of last year in January 2007. The hotel closed down completely that June and reopened as a Hilton in November. Champalimaud was responsible for the guest room makeover, while designer David Collins spearheaded changes in the lobby, meeting rooms, restaurant and bar. The early-20th-century feel is most experienced in the small details of the lobby and other public areas on the ground floor.
With a slight nod to Czech Cubism, the lobby is an elegant space in white and burnished brass. White marble floors and inset lighting add to the simple, understated atmosphere. There’s a small reception area off to your left, with additional lobby seating to your right. A large picture window here allows for lots of natural light and gives the room a street café feel. The furnishings are unassuming in forest green. Architectural interest is added with two elements — the staircase and the fireplace. The staircase is the traditional square set of stairs common in many buildings of this period but sadly not always kept after an upgrade. The fireplace is set back a bit from the entryway. Done in white marble, the matte gold and wood chairs offer a surprisingly cozy space in a room more efficiently businesslike.
Also straight on from the entryway is the lobby bar and Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant. The bar is a large one for a hotel, a nice change from the typical corner seating offered in many hotels. There’s a unique screen slightly separating the bar area from the rest of the lobby. Made from decorative brass bars, this screen presents an open but detached room. The interior of the bar offers green- and black-vinyl chairs and couches. The furnishings are well laid out, offering a mix of small and large tables, many placed for privacy. Small corner lamps add to the bar’s warmth. A similar style is carried into Maze. Wooden floors and a navy blue color scheme dominate here — along with long tables versus separate ones. This is the most contemporary-looking space in the hotel, but the designers have done a good job of updating the décor.
The meeting rooms are laid out at the top of the beautiful staircase. Twelve meeting rooms, nearly all offering natural light are here. There is also a large open space that can be used for coffee breaks. There’s a bar located in this foyer, perfect for informal cocktail parties or other such events.
“The architecture is such that even the meeting rooms are fancy and elegant,” Šebková notes.
Indeed, the Vivaldi meeting room has lovely painted glass, and many of the other rooms have beautiful city views.
The Czech modernist experience can’t be found so much in the guest rooms. Honey-colored wood furnishings, white and gold bedding, yellow-beige walls and chocolate-brown curtains provide a relaxing atmosphere. Green-toned carpeting and an etched mirror instead of a typical hotel room painting offer an appealing contrast. Homey touches come in the form of shelves under the bathroom sink for towels and a Cuisinart two-cup double coffeemaker.
While not as big as the original Prague Hilton in Karlín, the Hilton Prague Old Town manages to combine the demands of a large property with the grace of an older, fashionable house. The designers did a good job avoiding the typical “chain” hotel feel while paying tribute to Prague’s beautiful architectural surroundings.