Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
Additional photos by Hotel Cosmopolitan Prague
Prague Hotel Gems
110 00 Prague1,
Art Deco Imperial Hotel
Na Poříčí 15,
110 00 Prague 1,
Prague is a city of neighborhoods, with each zone reflecting the personally of its march through time. History unfolds as you walk into the Old Town (Staré Mĕsto) or the New Old Town (Novĕ Mĕsto) or Lesser Town (Malā Strana) or Jewish Town (Josefov) or the less well-known districts of Hradčany and Vyehrad, and be sure to keep your camera at the ready to capture the abundance of riches Prague offers. Beauty and music surround you in Prague, the Capital of the Czech Republic.
You can find outstanding examples of almost every architectural expression in Prague; from the 9th century St. George’s Romanesque Basilica in Prague Castle to the Powder Tower in all its 15th century Gothic splendor; from 17th century Baroque buildings and monuments designed by master architect Jan Blazej Santini-Aichel, to the 21st century avant-garde Dancing House designed by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Prague is an on-going work of art with a healthy eye towards preserving the past.
Entering the gate of the Old Town through the Gothic style Powder Tower (name stems from its use as a gunpowder depot) or at the side of the Art Nouveau Municipal House, presents a stunning contrast in time and style. The Municipal House was built at the height of the Art Nouveau movement in the first part of the 20th century and is an outstanding example of this highly decorative style employing motifs of the finest materials suggestive of floral elements found in nature.
On my recent visit to the Prague, I had the pleasure of staying at the recently opened contemporary boutique Hotel Cosmopolitan on Zlatnická 3 re-constructed in a Belle Époque style, while a dazzling example of the stylish Art Deco movement can be found in her older sister Hotel Imperial around the corner on Na Poříčí 15. It has been oft repeated that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and while the choice of which hotel to choose is according to the personal taste and style preference of each guest, both hotels are notable for their high degree of attention to detail and personalized service.
The Cosmopolitan started life in 1889 as a neo-renaissance townhouse built by the National Brewery Association on a property that was purported to have housed a pub as early as the 14th century. Preserving the historic aspects of this lovely building, while redesigning it as a contemporary 5-star luxury boutique hotel, was indeed a design challenge.
With 106 individually designed and decorated rooms and suites ranging in size from 270 to 474 square feet, and featuring top notch room amenities and Swarovski crystal decorative elements, rich marble baths and elegant furniture throughout, the hotel has the added desirability of its perfect location.
Prague is a walking city and both hotels are a 5-minute stroll to the Old Town Square, the first stop on anyone’s agenda in Prague. This is where you will find the amazing Astronomical Clock. This miracle of engineering is on the face of the Old Town Hall and it performs only on the hour… close attention is needed as it performs for a few brief seconds making a return visit de rigueur.
Whether you stay at the Cosmopolitan or not, a visit to Prague should include dining at its highly rated “Next Door” Restaurant with celebrity Chef Zdenek Pohlreichin at the helm. The handsome, simple but stately, modern restaurant has wooden tables and a striking wood and tile parquet floor. It features an open kitchen under a skylight with growing foliage. Breakfast is an outstanding affair with beautifully displayed offerings on buffet or made-to-order by the bevy of cooks busily preparing individual orders in full view, if you have the time to linger. But for dinner, well that’s another story all together, when one is not rushing to begin the day, one’s appetite should be indulged and the meal slowly savored.
Mine began with a savory grilled foie gras served on a bed of dense and rich duck liver, with fresh peas and wild mushrooms attending in a sauce au naturel… absolutely divine!
Next came a bowl of crayfish soup - flavorful without being fishy – with small pockets filled with crayfish meat and basil oil floating on top. After such a rich beginning I choose to go traditional with a veal schnitzel supported by the creamiest of mashed potatoes and a side of crisp sliced cucumbers in sour cream sauce. A local Národní Park 2015 crisp white wine was the perfect choice to balance the meal that ended with a chocolate sour-cherry filled bomb with macadamia nuts on the side.
Waiting to entice me with its beautifully restored Art Deco decorative elements was the glorious Hotel Imperial just around the corner on Na Poříčí, one of the main tram streets leading to the Old Town and just a block from the central railroad station. The original 7-story 1913 building combined three art styles – Art Deco, Cubism and remnants of Art Nouveau. The original brochure offered: “up-to-date establishment with Telephone in each chamber. Central hot-water heating. Warm and cold running water always available. Comfortable bathrooms in each floor. Lift. The chambers are large and roomy and maintained in a state of perfect neatness and have excellent beds”
Well much has changed in the intervening years of war and communist revolution but happily the building survived to live again as a Czech National Monument and UNESCO Heritage property and is today recognized as one of the most luxurious hotels in the Czech Republic. There are 126 guest rooms and suites, all with marble bathrooms that have heated floors and modern up-to-date electronics and fixtures but with the old world elegance of the Art Deco era.
And for lovers of classic art deco design, a visit to the famous Café Imperial on the ground floor is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate with Chef Pohlreichin doing double duty overseeing the kitchen at both hotels. The café has its own entrance but don’t miss going through the hotel to pass the stunning tiles decorating the entranceway and reception area.
For information on both the Cosmopolitan and the Imperial, along with their other historic luxury hotels, visit www.oldtownhotels.cz/en/
© August 2017 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.