New Town hotel finishes an extensive guest room renovation project
What would Prague be without its history? From the people to the music to the buildings, history seeps through every cobblestoned corner.
With its legendary guest register and its building homage to Art Deco, the Radisson SAS Alcron Hotel is an integral part of the Golden City’s history. The building has seen a lot of changes since its 1932 opening, the most recent being a complete guest-room renovation.
The original Alcron Hotel was the brainchild of architect-owner Alois Krofta. He wanted a luxury hotel that would attract tourists to Prague, since, at the time, most people preferred visiting Berlin or Vienna. His idea was a massive success, and word soon spread of the fabulous new hotel in Prague.
Krofta named the hotel slightly after himself — a combination of his initials “Al” and “Kro,” which were somewhat transformed to, and inspired by, the “Alcron,” a boat from Greek mythology.
The hotel was closed from 1990 until 1998, when it underwent an almost total renovation before reopening. The architect and designer took great pains to preserve as much of the building’s original essence. Few historic interior pieces, however, were left over from the original hotel, though two of them have made a lasting impact on its décor. The Secession fireplace separates the Alcron restaurant from the lobby and the grand marble staircase is the original as well.
The new room design, done this year, gives a modest upgrade to the overall look, but the rooms’ technological comforts were bumped up several notches. Rooms now contain free Wi-Fi Internet access, three telephone lines, a minibar, large-screen LCD televisions, a Nespresso machine and Villeroy & Boch china — just to name a few fun treats. If you aren’t particularly interested in design, the new look may not be apparent, but small, charming details abound.
“It’s an easy, simple style, very elegant,” says Martina Tkačová, public relations manager for the Alcron. “That’s what I like. It’s more modern than before.”
The Alcron used the same interior designer, Maria Katsarou-Vafiadis, who was responsible for the first renovation of the hotel back in 1998.
For the first renovation, “the architect looked to old Alcron images for details, wandered around Prague for inspiration,” Tkačová says. “This time, she wanted to make it more modern, keep the design but combine it with contemporary details. Prague has grown a lot in 10 years, and she wanted to show what has changed.”
Those who take the time to look closely at their rooms will be rewarded with a joyful selection of Art Deco designs. From the bedspread pattern to the lamp posts to the string-shaded bedside lamps, it’s the 1930s come to life. One big change was the addition of a mirror on the wall behind the beds. Tkačová says this enlarges the look of the rooms and provides a “shiny effect.” Powder-blue and burgundy dominate the color scheme, with beige, white and blue carpet on the floors. The Alcron decided not to do carpet in all the rooms; some offer dark wood flooring. The furnishings are a timeless “box-style,” simple and comfortable and go well in any décor. The in-room art is simple, detailed photos of Prague moments.
The hallways are another Art Deco pleasure. There’s a mix of art, some illustrations and some paintings, but all are of beautifully attired ’30s-era ladies. The room numbers are unique as well — a black plaque backing gold numbers.
“We created the font. We call it the Alcron. It was created for the hotel,” Tkačová says.
The first “sample” of the new design was in the executive lounge, located in the front of the lobby. Its street-side location makes for a perfect getaway, and all the fun Art Deco motifs are here – boxy furniture, string curtains and classy colors of brown, cream and burgundy.
While the rest of the hotel may be considered “old” now that the rooms have gotten a face-lift, Tkačová says there are plans to continue with renovating the public spaces, perhaps starting as early as next year. Ten years on, however, the décor still remains classy and fresh.
The lobby has low ceilings, white marble floors and green pillars, with small conversational groups of furniture, decorated in greens and golds. Off the lobby is the Be Bop Bar, colored in rich hues of green and maroon, like a typical 30s jazz club. The renowned Alcron restaurant is tiny, only 24 seats, but it’s dominated by a beautiful mural of French Art Deco scenes from the ’30s. The La Rotunde is a large space, curved and classically decorated. And an outdoor terrace on the back is a popular summer spot.
But it’s the leftover original elements, like the marble staircase rising through the center of the building, that give the Alcron its sense of place. Tkačová believes its one of the most important aspects of the hotel.
“You can still feel the people, the era [through it],” she says. “It’s like the monument of the hotel.”