Just an hour outside of Prague and about 100 years away, a stay at the Grand Hotel Praha is like living in the lap of Bohemian luxury - even if your budget isn’t luxurious. The family-owned hotel is in the center of the historic town main street and includes a restaurant and bar for late nights and early mornings. Rooms are stately but comfortable, with rustic wood furniture and thematic art. Discovering each room is like uncovering a buried treasure.
Architecture history, mystery, magic
Originally opened in 1910, the hotel has been in the hands of several family owners since then, all of whom have taken great pride in sharing the hotel’s historic and quaint details with visitors. Art Nouveau, made famous in Prague and Paris thanks partly to Czech artist, Alfons Mucha, finds expression in the hotel via gentle colored glass windows, cherubic carvings in the facade and tasteful period paintings, circa the fin de siecle. Wander the hallways and ask for a tour in the lobby to learn more secrets and history.
Each room in the three-story hotel has its own personality but contains all the expected creature comforts like television, Wi-Fi and air conditioning. More importantly, the beds are comfortable and rather new, especially when compared with other small-town guesthouses through small-town Czech. Fair warning, though: not all rooms have double beds. Some have twin-sized beds, so it’s worth asking if you’re looking for space to spread out.
Although the bathrooms have been recently modernized, they retain the charming colored tiles and flowery borders of the original Art Nouveau design, which all adds up to the best of both worlds. Wood floors, sumptuous area rugs and heavy, antique furniture make guests feel like they’re stepping into their Czech grandmother’s tastefully furnished flat rather than a single-night guest room. Over-sized couches, wooden writing desks and brightly colored walls in separate sitting areas complete that rather delightful illusion.
Dining, dancing and relaxation are part of the package
The hotel has quite a few places to hang your hat, read your newspaper and dance with your partner, although none of them seem overly popular. The lobby cafe serves breakfast, included in the price for hotel guests. You can order your fixings from the waiter. There’s a more substantial restaurant here too, which serves traditional Czech dishes at night. A piano man plays the baby grand on weekend evenings for a sophisticated - if a bit quiet - atmosphere.
If old-school sophistication is not your bag, make your way around the back and down the stairs to the basement beer house, a pub and snack bar with smoked meats and Czech beer on tap. Polkas, waltzes and working-class company are yours in spades at this more “local” hang-out. A separate wine bar, also in the basement, connects via spiral staircase to the main restaurant.
A spa with a salt water pool, sauna and hot tub is a new addition to the hotel. It takes the place of the horse stables. But don’t worry: it still exudes the grand charm of the rest of the hotel by resisting bland modernity.
Worth the splurge
You might not see a lot of Czech people (other than the staff) in the Grand Hotel Praha. Even though the 50.00 USD rates look fairly cheap for western Europeans and Americans, the hotel is well outside the price point of regular Czech tourists. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to feel “grand” if you yourself can’t afford a fancy Prague hotel but what to bask in the Art Nouveau atmosphere of Bohemia.
Staying at this authentic “period piece” hotel, which still has the necessary modern conveniences, is the best of the Old World and the New World.