Iconic impressions

The Prague Post

New hotel offers comfort and fun

“I thought about what I don’t like about hotels and did it the other way around.”

That’s how Nah-Dja Tien describes the concept of his new property, The Icon hotel. Opened in February, this small boutique off Wenceslas Square is proud to show off its distinctions.

“We have a different approach to the hotel business,” explains Tien, who is the general manager. “We want to have fun, not be too serious.”

Everything about The Icon screams youthfulness with a laid-back attitude. The staff? All dressed in Diesel. Really. The hotel has an agreement with the clothing company to dress its employees. The Icon also has an agreement with Apple, which supplies all the hotel computers, and Rituals supplies all the body cosmetics.

“We openly cooperate with our partners,” Tien says. “We use their name. They gain publicity from being in our hotel.”

The hotel is privately owned by a Greek investor, and the building is leased from the Greek Church. It was previously an office building with a bar on the ground level. When the owner, Yiannis Moutsopoulos acquired the lease, he knew he wanted a hotel and brought in Tien to assist with the concept.

“We think in Prague, there aren’t the boutique hotels, like in London or Paris,” Tien says. “We wanted this concept, instead of a normal four-star hotel.”

From the very beginning, the ideas that went into the reconstruction were unique. The actual design was carried out by a group of students Moutsopoulos had worked with in the past. Art in the rooms and public spaces will be rotated on a regular basis to virtually make the hotel into a small gallery. The “multipurpose space” has a spot for a DJ, and the hotel is wired throughout, which means it has the possibility of turning into a rocking club.

From the outside, the hotel’s most eye-catching features are the two huge windows framing the front doorway. One gives you a glimpse of the hotel’s restaurant, Jet Set, while the other provides a view of the hotel’s Zen Thai Massage Wellness Center. The two scenes are so different that, at first glance, it’s difficult to realize they are part of the same place.

A narrow ramp leads guests to the lobby. While most of the décor is minimalist, bright colors and modern touches keep it from being stark. To your left is the seated check-in area; to your right is the bar and restaurant. Simple furnishings combine with multicolored spotlights, a theme repeated in many other areas of the hotel. Half the walls are painted and half sport wallpaper because, as Tien says, “it can easily be changed.” What’s hanging up there now is bright and patterned, again a contrast to the room’s sparse furnishings.

Straight on from the entryway is the multipurpose space. Looking like a lounge, guests can hang out, have a drink or eat breakfast. Basic tables and chairs are found here as well, contrasted with purple benches and black module tables. A huge skylight covers the room, along with a giant green and yellow pinwheel mobile. Guest reactions have been mixed.

“It’s something for people to talk about,” Tien says with a smile.

The multicolor theme comes into play in the hallways leading to the guest rooms, with room numbers depicted on huge colored cubes. The rooms themselves offer two color schemes, purple and turquoise. Wood floors, an off-white cushioned headboard and dark-brown-and-cream painted walls keep a basic feel, while the colors found in the curtains, sheaths and bedspreads make for a cheerful atmosphere. Golds are also featured prominently in the low chair, on the desk and on the wardrobe. The modular wardrobe offers a few surprises — drawers, a bio-metric safe that uses your fingerprint to lock and unlock and a mini-bar set at eye level.

The bathrooms are dominated by a huge white-framed mirror and are well-lit with a spotlight directly above the basin sink. Black seems a strange color for bathroom walls, but the scheme seems to fit at The Icon.

The beds, though, are where the hotel truly hopes to make a name for itself.

“We sell sleep,” Tien says, explaining the choice of Hästens-made beds.

These beds, supposedly the most comfortable in Europe, can be found in all of The Icon’s rooms. At 2 meters and 10 centimeters (6 foot 9 inches), they are known as super-kings. The rest of the furnishings are also exclusive to the hotel. Most were designed by a company called Modernista and produced in Pardubice. The chairs have a different story.

“The chairs were originally designed around 1930 by a Mr. Hallaballa, a Czech designer who designed it for an exhibition in Brno,” Tien says. “It has never been reproduced until now, and we also made our sofas using the same design.”

Little touches like these are what help make The Icon a truly memorable place.