Riverside gives new meaning to ’boutique’

The Prague Post

Guests can enjoying sweeping views of Prague and Vltava

“Boutique” is often the adjective used to describe many shops, hotels and other specialty businesses. Frequently, however, these places don’t live up to the basic meaning of the word: small, unique and fashionable. Riverside Hotel, on the other hand, is a true “boutique hotel” in every sense.

“Originally, it was a residence house,” explains Miroslav Bukva, Riverside’s general manager. “It was reconstructed and opened in 2002.”

Because of the building’s original use, everything is more “home-size” than in most hotels. The doors open onto an entryway with the reception area housed in a small room to the left, while another room off to the right holds the hotel’s bar. Immediately you are met with the elegance of Belle Époque architecture. French designer Pascale de Montrémy was in charge of the décor, while his compatriot, Philippe Hurel, furnished the space.

Red is the dominant color, but it is not controlling. Red ceilings may sound overwhelming, but, here, they are paired with white moldings and cream walls for a distinguished look. Black and white marble tiles cover the entryway, while, in the bar next door, striped black-and-white curtains frame the tall windows. Corduroy covered chairs in red and gray surround low wooden tables.

The high ceilings are one of the few things that take away from the small and intimate feel found throughout the property. The impressive chandeliers made from Czech glass are also eye-catching. The white and red baubles continually draw the eye upward everywhere they hang, from the lobby to the bar to the hallways. Czech crystals are used as highlights throughout the hotel. They decorate nearly all the lampshades, hang in the windows of the public spaces and are even framed as art in some of the guest rooms.

Up a small set of stairs brings you to the beginning of the guest-room floors. Moss wallpaper and softened lighting gives the public spaces a warm, welcoming glow. A dark green, almost black tile replaces the bolder flooring of the lobby. A lovely staircase with a wrought-iron railing and wooden banister decorates each floor it passes through.

The actual guest rooms are understated, allowing the magnificent Prague view to act as its own adornment.

“It’s a soft design,” Bukva explains.

Beige dominates the color scheme with highlighted striping of other colors, such as apricot or mint, to brighten the look. Spreads of basic checkered white, beige and navy cover the beds, while soft, barely marbled beige wallpaper covers the walls. Lighting is simple table and floor lamps and the occasional recessed spotlight. Decorations are kept to a minimum. The majority of the rooms offer an impressive city view, and this is used to its full advantage with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies.

Classic silver framed oval mirrors, accented with Czech crystals, also hang in the rooms. The bathrooms are beautifully done in a golden brown mosaic, complete with basin sinks and fresh flowers. A subtle touch is the bathroom and wardrobe doors. Designed more as floor-to-ceiling cupboard fronts, they are usefully unobtrusive. Bukva believes in the importance of all these details but knows there is more to running a good hotel than the color of the walls. A fact recently supported by an award from Tripadvisor, an online travel community.

“We are proud to say we received the Travelers’ Choice 2006 award for best hotel in the Czech Republic in the luxury category,” Bukva says. “This is a very important award because it shows guest satisfaction and value for money.”

The award was based on guest evaluations submitted to Tripadvisor. Riverside Hotel ended up in fourth place in Europe and eighth globally. Bukva’s staff offers a variety of personalized services, which most likely contributed to the hotel’s lofty positioning.

“We have seated check-in,” Bukva cites as one example. “We personally escort the guests to their rooms. Guests feel like they are treated as VIPs, and there is more time to communicate with them.”

Situated on the Vltava’s left bank, Riverside Hotel currently offers 45 rooms and suites, but that will soon change. The hotel has purchased the building next door and is in the process of renovating it to eventually be connected with the current property. This will add another 30 rooms plus banquet facilities to the hotel offerings. But, no matter the building, the service is what shines through here.

“It’s all about showing the importance of the client,” Bukva says. “The point is to make them happy.”