Spanish sol

The Prague Post

Windows galore brighten up the Barceló

When the lobby of a hotel is covered by a skylight, you notice. When the hallways are one-wall windows, you notice.

Barceló, a new hotel near náměstí Republiky, has certainly brought in the sunshine.

“Not many hotels have daylight in the lobby. It’s a dominate feature of the building,” says Lina Boudníková, the hotel’s sales and marketing director.

A wall of glass doubles as the entry doors, giving you your first impression that this hotel is looking to show itself off from the inside, while a long passageway lined with wood on one side, and a ruby wall on the other brings the “outside” into the reception and lobby area. This space was originally the courtyard, but designers covered it with a skylight and added track lighting.

“Architects used a lot of glass and light; the interiors are quite modern even though it’s a historic building,” Boudníková says. The architects “played with colors and metal combined with wood.”

The materials are what dominate the hotel, much more than the occasional use of color. The reception desk is wood, while the exposed brick on parts of the lobby walls gives guests a sense of the building’s history. Off the lobby is a small café-bar, the South Lounge Bar. Dimly lit with a curved ceiling, it offers a quiet place to sit and relax. The long space is filled with creamy white leather chairs huddled around frosted glass tables. The bar is dominated by a hanging rack of glass and metal, used to display a variety of spirits and glasses. An entrance from the street makes it attractive for passers-by.

The hotel has a couple of separate entrances, including two from its ground-floor restaurant, Zlatý Andel Fusion. Longtime residents will probably remember that there used to be a restaurant here called Zlatý Andel. Now redone and renamed, Zlatý Andel Fusion is subtly divided into three rooms. Upon entering, you’ll find yourself in the café-lounge area, complete with dark wood floors and tables paired with black leather chairs. And, of course, loads of windows.

“People are sometimes afraid to go to a hotel restaurant, so we want to be welcoming from the street,” Boudníková says.

The restaurant also features a small bar area with a couple of tables. Notice the lit panels fronting the actual bar. Boudníková says the panels can be changed out based on the season or by request for private parties. The look is replicated in the privacy panels in the restaurant. The restaurant’s dark wood floors meld into light. The lighter colored wood can also be found on a long bench stretching the length of the room. Wooden walls dominate the left side, while the signature ruby wall is on the right. Thin, rectangular light panels are inlaid in the floor and extra decoration and lighting is shared via frosted, hourglass-shaped lamps sitting on the window sills.

The Barceló has 62 rooms. Each is slightly different, thanks to the quirks of a historic building. A strong stone staircase passes through every floor, which are interestingly decorated with mosaic landings and marble columns. Since the building is built around a courtyard, the hallways surround this natural feature. Windows run alongside the interior of the hotel, allowing you to look down on the lobby or across to the building’s other side.

“On the floors, you feel the history, while the rooms are quite modern,” Boudníková says.

Indeed, the hallway walls sport large black-and-white photos of up-close Prague architectural curiosities, like busts, statues and sculptures. Even the guestroom doors are appealing, with old-fashioned gold-handled knobs. The rooms provide a mix of neutral colors paired with strong black furnishings. Browns, beiges, grays, tans and creams dominate the color spectrum. Decoration here is in the form of large, close-up photographs of leaves. Colors from these photos, be it green or blue, are highlighted elsewhere in the rooms. Bathrooms are well-lit with big sinks. It’s a historic building, so rooms randomly have interesting wall nooks, mosaics and sometimes ceiling moldings.

The building dates to medieval times, when it was actually four separate buildings, one of them a brewery. The 17th century saw the buildings connected and transformed into a hotel, with notable guests such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the queens of Greece and Denmark checking in. The classicist facade was added in the 19th century. Copa Management oversaw the transformation of the building, which was completed in May 2007. The building wasn’t managed as a hotel, however, until Spanish operator Barceló came in two months before the opening last December.

The hotel has been open for less than three months, and the interiors are doing their job.

“It’s a design interior but not cold feeling,” Boudníková says. “Guests feel like they are at home; the rooms are like living rooms. They like that it is spacious with lots of daylight and a combination of modern and historic.”