Irish hotel chain officially opens first location outside British Isles in Prague
Crowds gathered the second Thursday in October to launch the latest Jurys Inn, a mid-range hotel brand with more than 30 locations, the new Prague site being the Irish company’s first foray into continental Europe. Traditional Irish music and folk dancing set the mood, and, in case there was any confusion, Czech and Irish national flags saluting from the hors d’oeuvre toothpicks solidified the message of multicultural cooperation.
Marketed to economically minded tourists and business travelers, the Prague Jurys Inn was designed to attract the same class of customers to its restaurant and cafe, even locals who won’t stay the night.
“The majority of diners here aren’t guests,” says General Manager Johannes Schuschu. “We have attractive prices, and the business people in the area like to come.”
The restaurant itself is a casual, open affair. Seats are a mix of curved high-backed booths and four-seater tables scattered around. A long bench through the middle offers seating on both sides and divides the area to create some privacy. A unique part of the space is a small cubby cut into the side wall. A purple couch is snuggled inside around a low table with low lighting – the perfect quiet nook for a small group.
“The established Jurys Inn concept was a separate bar and restaurant,” Schuschu says. “Now, with this new concept, the reception leads to the bar and on to the restaurant.”
The front wall is given over to windows to ensure lots of bright light in the lobby area, which is furnished with fun, oversize chairs that could serve as either a cozy seat for two or a sprawling seat for one. The upholstery is an entertaining mix of eggplant, lime and rust colors.
“They are challenging colors. I was afraid it was too dark,” Schuschu admits. “But, once we have people in here, everyone seems to enjoy it.”
The colors were probably a smart choice, since the white walls and gray-beige tile floor would make the space look flat otherwise. The lighting scheme also adds needed dynamism. Cocoon-shaped cloth-covered floor lamps lie about, and long, narrow lights snake across the bar.
“The architect had to think about how to get light into the building [because] it’s very long,” Schuschu says. The building was originally a residence, but had been empty since the floods of 2002. The reconstruction took two years and cost about 26 million euros.
Another architectural challenge was the metro line running directly under the hotel and a tram line running in front of it. Schuschu says the building is actually built on coils to prevent vibrations. The whole structure must be well-insulated so none of the traffic noises disturb the guests.
The guest rooms are bright and simple, a calming retreat from the bustling streets of Prague. White walls are matched with white linens. Modest charcoal coverlets lie at the bottom of the beds, and the color and material are replicated in the curtains. Large windows allow for lots of light, and all the rooms face a back courtyard so there is no street noise. One unique aspect for families or a large group is that the two rooms at the end of the hallways can be blocked off with their own separate door. This would allow for the two rooms across the hall from each other to be joined into a single private area.
For the near future, Jurys Inn looks ready to focus expansions back in England and Ireland, with new hotels set to open in Portsmouth, Glasgow and Newcastle in the coming months. An investment this summer of 30 million by major shareholders Oman Investment Group and Quinlan Private property group will help fund these developments.