Story by Norma Davidoff
Photos courtesy Hotel Paris, Prague
Hotel Paris. Prague
If luxuriating in art nouveau surroundings in a prime location appeals to you, head for five-star Hotel Paris in Prague, Czech Republic’s trendy capital. Ever so authentic, Hotel Paris oozes Mittel European sophistication and what was state of the art in 1904, when the hotel was built.
Remember the feature film “I Served the King of England?” The story is based on what happened here… although it ended up being shot down the street. The hotel’s owner didn’t want to inconvenience his guests. By the way, the lobby is lined with stills from feature films that were shot here in earlier times.
Hotel Paris has been renovated but not remodeled. It still keeps its elaborate, swirling lines, soft colors, and comfort, right down to the deco leather sofa in the lobby. Its Sarah Bernhardt restaurant is a gem. It has green mosaic walls with touches of gold and red that have clearly been perfectly restored. Surrounded by those mosaics, looking out the window onto more early 20th century buildings, I was thrown back in time.
Orchids in a period vase, unusual crystal chandeliers, parquet floors with intricate carpets make it Old World wonderful. It was an exciting setting for one of my best meals in all nine days in Prague. Paris’ chef knows how to take what could be heavy cuisine, and make it light. Pan fried trout joins peas and boiled potatoes; perfectly-cooked perch comes with spinach, onion and potatoes. They’re delicate and complex with a sprig of dill.
And the finale: A blueberry parfait was airiness itself. Light and creamy, it came with black currant sorbet and black currant liquor flavoring. It was splendidly encased in spun sugar “glass” that one must shatter to get to the rest. Heaven on a plate!
Breakfasts in the same room are generous and varied. Plenty of cheeses, omelets for the asking, fish, fruit, and assorted breakfast breads, rolls, and pastries washed down with strong scented European coffee. We ended up doing another round of the buffet to try everything each day we were there. And service was appropriate…interested but not hovering.
And now to sleep. A double set of doors – my first ever -- (let’s keep noise out when people are in) brought me into an elegant but cozy room with intricate lace curtains. Rooms are in soft peach with art nouveau design carpets. All the handles, and door fittings and the stylized and stylish elevators are burnished brass, true to 1904.
And let’s hear it for the truffles graciously placed in our room, white, chocolate, and bittersweet plus a welcoming basket of fruit. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom spacious, modern, and sleek but still deco in feel. My view from the room: more of those art nouveau buildings across the street. And double windows helped snuff out any noise.
The Paris Hotel is in an excellent location, in walking distance of Old Town and Josefov, the old Jewish section. But for those who want it, there’s a subway stop less than a block away. Around the corner from the hotel, is the famed art nouveau Municipal Building with its sculptures of languishing nudes, exquisite concert hall and three restaurants from the early 1900’s. Don’t miss it!
Paris has had its share of celebrity guests: the Dalai Lama, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Joseph Fiennes, Oliver Stone, the first president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, and actress Audrey Tatou. A small spa carved out in the basement offers massage. It seemed underwhelming.
The Brandejs family that owns the hotel recently opened a medical clinic to provide aesthetic treatments -- lasers, dentistry, breast augmentation and reduction, and facial plastic surgery. This building has a fresh modern interior and is just across the street from the hotel. Patients can discreetly slip out the side door of the Paris into a centuries-old elegant building that houses the new Brandeis Clinic. (That’s the spelling they are using.) If clients choose to have their “work” done here, they can combine it with a good rate at the hotel. The clinic has chosen to approach the Russian and European market first, but Americans are welcomed.
All in all, this hotel delivered in an exciting way. The Paris or Pariz… depends how you want to spell it… is a relatively small hotel, with 86 rooms. It is pristine, authentic, and an aesthetic delight. In its evocative Old World elevator, I heard one male guest say, “You know this is a pretty place.” Oh yes, I thought to myself, people could “flip” for this pretty place. I’m one that did.
© February 2014 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.