Don’t be shy to admit it: you are well aware of your striking looks! Uphill, downhill, along the Moldova with Smetana’s music resonating in one’s mind: walking your streets stands for a rewarding high-performance exercise for the senses – and for a bit of a challenge to the feet, too, I must say. To explore you from the core means treading historic grounds paved with cobble-stones hewn to all shapes and sizes. Yet, if the horses could cope with tricky surfaces on hooves back then, so can I in sensible footwear today. But, where to look first in this maze of wonder: left, right, up, down or around?
Churches, monasteries, an impressive castle (Pražsky hrad) complex perched on the hill for everyone to admire from near and far, classical buildings shining in bright colours, bridges, vineyards, orchards, hills and valleys…? Lovely and mild to the eye, you do not care to reveal the trouble you have seen.
And then your population! Their ancestors created the rich heritage they now must safeguard and preserve for themselves and future generations. To the prevailing wealth of hardware, their finely-tuned sense of humour and the pinch of melancholy often inherent to a Slavic soul make an arcane blend. Just think of all those famous individuals gifted with exceptional artistical talent.
Exploring you with awe jumping in circles and oblivious to time, one does indeed run the risk of an involuntary encounter with bespoke lamp-post or of a collision breast-to-breast with someone similarly mesmerised by the surroundings. Silent movie slapsticks spring to mind. I apologise for that. Throngs of people from all over the world flock here, only to succumb to your charm – and one spoilsport or another always (!) walks into the picture I’m trying to shoot. Ah, well, I’ll just have to choose my footage cleverly.
How am I to come to terms with your abundant cultural broadband treasure? Architectural styles and the buildings bearing witness of their respective epochs alone hold more stories than I could possibly tell. New movements developed? Not without you having had a serious role in them.
And still you don’t seem vain. Instead, you easily handle with confidence and dignity what has been bestowed upon you over the course of time: curly Baroque, flowery Art Nouveau, curvy Art Deco, geometrical Cubism, minimalistic Bauhaus or concrete Brutalism are united to a diverse concoction (together with romanesque, gothic, renaissance… styles).
In order to maintain your beauty and well-being: shall we get down to business now?
All hotels mentioned in this report offer various categories of rooms and suites, meeting spaces and facilities, restaurants and other amenities suitable and/or essential for the MICE trade.
Facts & figures and useful details are available on the respective websites.
A retreat on the hill
For those striving to escape the hustle of the big city only minutes away: the Lindner Hotel caters to this wish for peace and quiet. Up on the hill, nestled in a privileged location on the grounds of the Strahov Monastery, it only takes a short and picturesque walk from the hotel premises to the renowned Prague Castle. The hotel also conveniently connects to the city center by public transport: the tram no. 22 (Pohorelice) takes guests up and down the steep slopes within 10 to 15 minutes.
A section of the Lindner is housed in former stables constructed in the 16th century. The rooms situated inside it still feature the original wooden ceilings and so exude the cosiness of bygone times; from the balconies, a fabulous view is to be had.
The German Hotel chain has wrapped up a co-op with the Hyatt Group, meaning that all rooms and suites, meeting rooms and communal spaces will undergo thorough refurbishment starting by the end of this year.
Architectural style: pyramidal
It is spacious, bright, modern and friendly, it smells good and has a history: all premises under the OREA umbrella were built by the communist regime in the 1970s for the recuperation of government employees who had performed well. Nowadays, the chain of 20 hotels, four of which lie in Prague, welcomes guests from all castes and nations.
The OREA Pyramida Hotel is a good example of a successfully implemented renovation scheme. The exterior is still on the agenda and will receive a facelift as well. As for now, the present façade helps to amplify the surprise one experiences after stepping inside the Pyramida in Praha 6. Which is also not far from the Prague Castle. The Eclipse Restaurant in the lobby serves delicious food.
The majority of the Czech population are said to be self-declared meat-eaters. When living in a beer-brewing country, a hearty meal to mollify the stomach before consumption of the popular beverage does seem a splendid idea.
For omnivores and potato-lovers, the Brambory Restaurant (Prankrác district) might be the right choice when looking for traditional as well as novel food offerings in inventive combinations. Some sixty sorts of potatoes (grown on Czech farmland) are to be had, prepared in every thinkable fashion at reasonable prices. The Brambory is a member of the Together Restaurants chain consisting of nine outlets – each sporting a different cuisine – whereby menus are exchangeable upon demand for groups. It’s wise to book a table well ahead: the place is brimming for a reason.
Quite an endearing asset to a business oriented hotel: Some of the workforce employed by the Vienna House by Wyndham Andel’s Hotel labours by the million, is tiny, a bit hairy with yellow-black stripes and equipped with a sharp sting at the rear. It hums and buzzes around the city relentlessly collecting nectar – only to return to one of their bee-hive honey-factories on the hotel roof and to slave away life-long. It is the right attitude wanting to produce the prize-winning kind of honey, what else to live for being a bee? Guests who need to unwind and are looking for an alternative to aquarium fish swishing to and fro: there’s a webcam videoing the bees’ activities and some of the footage plays on the TV sets in the rooms. In order to nudge green thinking (if necessary), little fabric bags hung on the door handle by the guest in the evening signal, that towels or linen do not need to be changed the next day. Et voilà, in the morning a thank-you-goodie promptly brightens the guests’s day.
Minus fish plus cinema
At the Andels – located in the quirky Andel district – it has even been decided to no longer serve fish for the benefit of the ocean life in general. Adjacent is a cinema, parts of which can be privatised for groups. The hotel’s Oscar’s Bar is situated directly next to the movie theatre’s side entrance, so distance is short and weather moods neglectable. Some of the area in front of the hotel also belongs to its premises and thus offers additional space for events, if asked for.
Andel sibling Vienna House by Wyndham Diplomat Prague is situated in the diplomatic neighbourhood on the road directly leading to the airport. Still, Strahov Monastery, Prague Castle and also the city centre are all within easy reach. Delegates who would like to take their “break-out” literally, are offered various options to delve into Prague’s past not far from the hotel premises.
Chic and cool
The Almanac X Prague Hotel (formerly: Alcron) in the city center has Wenceslas Square and Old Town just around the corner and recently been refurbished back to its former Art Deco glory. It now not merely boasts elegance and consequent attention to detail as far as its ambience is concerned, but equally lays its focus on its epicurean qualities and the delicacies devised by their creative kitchen staff. Magnificent view desired? Stepping out onto the rooftop could ease the craving.
With the popularity of vegetables on the rise, restaurants develop their own ideas on how to seduce a wavering client into tasting a daring veggie meal; at the Alcron Restaurant (situated in the Almanac X Prague Hotel) for instance, the young female chef serves courageous alternatives to conventional food. Such as a main course consisting of „Glazed carrots, carrot purée, celery and Rhubarb crudités.“ Together with a starter and a desert it’s filling but light enough even for a late dinner. European and authentic Czech cuisines are available as well.
A realm within monastic walls
The Augustine (a Luxury Collection Hotel) located close to where Charles Bridge meets the Malá Strana side of town, is a top-notch establishment that succeeds in honing a multi-facetted offering into a wholesome entity. Aesthetic and exquisite, cultivated and noble, it leaves nothing to be desired – budget permitting.
All rooms are held in the prevailing colours typical of the cubist idea and the Augustine order itself and are predominantly equipped with furniture and accessories that honour that specific era. The icing on the cake accommodation-wise might well be the Tower Suite, a maisonette housed in the astronomical tower used by the beer-brewing monks of the past. Needless to say: not only they enjoyed the view from up there.
The Augustine Restaurant is able to satisfy the palate of any discerning gourmet – while in the atmospheric Refectory bar four putti are watching the goings-on from a ceiling fresco. Dedicated to them are four cocktails mixed exclusively here.
Venues and two more hotels
From Hamburg to a view over Prague
For the Prague Congress Centre times have been a’
changin’ multifold since its construction in neo-functionalistic style in 1976. Inspired by the architecture of the Hamburg Congress Centre and originally built by the Communist Party for their own meetings exclusively, the edifice was later turned into a Cultural Palace for the people; in the early 1990s, international events were brought to the city. The main share of budget during severe refurbishment between 2015-2017 was wisely invested in energy management, rendering the venue sustainable by saving up to 50 per cent of its energy costs. A part of the remaining budget was secured for the acquisition of paintings and other artifacts, 200 of which may be admired by an international audience today. About 240 events per year take place here, some of them not seldom simultaneously, whereby 11 separate entrances/exits assure delegates smooth transfers within and out of the building. Metro station: Vyšehrad.
A function of some significance took place in this venue only recently: The Prague Convention Bureau celebrated its 15th anniversary together with 60 active members, whereby 15 of them had joined the club right from the beginning. Some 400.000 attendees have come to the internationally popular destination of Prague during this period. Roman Muška (CVB) and Lenka Žlebková (PCC) not only delivered figures, but also shared their personal experience as directors of these two entities.
There are plans to integrate the public space in front of the PCC into future activities and to widen the geographical and experiential horizon for everyone involved: by including the neighbouring national cultural monument of Vyšehrad – an area whose picture-book setting is hard to top. On the churchyard of the Peter & Paul basilica reverence can be paid to gifted Czech composers and writers buried here – such as Bedřich Smetana, Franz Kafka or Antonín Dvořák.
The two hotels in the immediate neighbourhood of the PCC (same Metro station):
Tall, slender and capacious
There is little competition size-wise: with 539 rooms, the Corinthia Hotel is Prague’s local leader when it comes to capacities. Situated right opposite the Congress Centre, space and geographical closeness plus a noble interior well looked after do come in handy. An army of 250 staff makes sure that all works run smoothly in a full house. The Bellevue up at the top poses as the jewel in the crown amongst the meeting rooms available in this building and offers exactly that: a beautiful view over the city.
From the outside, it is a typical Holiday Inn. Inside, a complete facelift has been achieved by changing the familiar interior appearance, by implementing a fresh and friendly colour scheme throughout the house and by remodelling the groundfloor into one agreeable open space. Although there’s a cosy nook here and there – one of which houses the „Wine & Tapas bar – an atmosphere has been created that motivates guests wanting to explore more. The HI offers standard rooms and suites.
Inspired by Cubism
Truly chameleonic characteristics are displayed by the Cubex Centrum (Pankrác), where colour concepts are implemented according to the client’s wish and 360°-projection is feasible in the largest hall. An enormous media wall in the main area lends corporate presentations an impressive backdrop for the products on show. The Cubex follows the cubistic ideal of geometrical shapes which are reflected throughout the venue with great consequence. And it’s famous too: one of the sequences of the serial „Last Light” was filmed here.
Noblesse does oblige
Confiscated twice – in 1939 by the Nazi regime and in 1948 by the Communists – Lobkowicz Palace was in a sorry state when eventually restituted to the Lobkowicz family in 2007. Members of the present generation are dedicated to their cause by keeping the single privately-owned property on the Prague Castle grounds alive and kicking. That asks for unconditional commitment, constant effort and daily work to preserve a demanding cultural heritage edifice. With a bit of luck, William Rudolf Lobkowicz (a genuine prince when on monarchic soil) takes the time to fill visitors in on his family’s and the palace’s history – and he does so in rather a charming and humorous way!
The main source of income are events like concerts, conferences or festivals; renting out spaces for functions another. Lobkowicz Palace’s pride is their remarkable art collection that impresses with a.o. paintings by Canaletto, Bruegel, Cranach and Velásquez or with original scripts by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn.
The brew that conquered the world
A brand-new candidate on Prague’s venue map is the The Pilsner Urquell Experience on Wenceslas Square, an interactive demonstration on how the famous Czech beverage came to be and how it was refined over time. And that it is unique, as it is produced in Pilsen exclusively (for the magic properties of its water there).
Those for whom terms such as Hladinka, Šnyt, Mlíko or Čochtan sound like words from another planet can become instant experts via an entertaining team-building exercise. It teaches on how to tap these four beer variants to perfection. Non-alcoholic beer is available, too.
Header image and all other images except for OREA, Prague Congress Centre, Cubex and Corinthia :