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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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An Architectural Gem Turns 100

Published on September 25th, 2014 in Sights

  • Historical Brochure of the Imperial Hotel (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Exterior at night (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Hall (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Hotel entrance (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Imperial Café (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Imperial Café (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Bedroom (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Deluxe double room (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Bath (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

  • Large Dining Hall (photo courtesy of Imperial Hotel)

 

Prague is a tapestry of architectural styles and ‘must-see’ buildings exist across the city. But one combines three fabulous forms in one; and in 2014 celebrates its 100th anniversary. Imperial Hotel is a gorgeous blend of Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Cubism and showcases classic components of all three styles in luxurious panache. Built as a hotel in 1913-1914, Imperial has an Art Deco and Cubist exterior. Inside all three design elements are balanced with the ceramic mosaics being especially irresistible. 
 

It was the vision of Jan Kolář (who also owned the nearby Art Nouveau masterpiece Hotel Paris) to build the Imperial, and he tasked architect Jaroslav Benedikt with the work. The hotel, its restaurant and café quickly became the in place to be in Prague’s interwar years. World War II began its demise, and in 1948 the property was taken over by the state. It was used as a hotel by the Revolutionary Trade Union Movement until 1989. It was closed, and then from 2002-2005 operated as a hostel. In 2005, new owners took the structure over and extensively remodeled it, reopening again in 2007 with the majority of the original designs and fixtures still in place. Amazingly, Rako, the company that originally did the hotel’s ceramic work was still in business and undertook the refurbishment of the mosaics, which were all handmade and hand painted. Rako’s ceramic work can also be seen in the main stairway and foyer of Obecní dům.
 

Walking into the entryway, I get a vaguely Egyptian vibe; sure enough, the space was inspired by both the Egyptian and Mediterranean cultures with its pictured tiles and ceramic reliefs. Your eyes need a moment to take in the explosion of mosaics, marble and stained glass. Some of the public spaces have been rearranged, the current reception area and lobby bar used to be a restaurant, while the concierge space was the reception area. Standing in this interior room, you’ll be at the base of the fabulous marble staircase that runs to the top. Looking up, you can get a glimpse of all three designs: the Art Nouveau windows, the Cubist railing and the Art Deco statue. 
 

I love the Café Imperial and I recommend it in my book, mainly because of its fabulous over the top design. I’d always wondered about the side room at the back of the café, often reserved for private parties. Why was its tile design and style so different from the rest of the restaurant? Turns out this was the Games Room in the original hotel, and the restaurant space today was simply a café. Besides the café and the concierge space, one place you must visit if you are a guest is the workout room. Even if treadmills give you the hives, take the elevator down to see the space. What was formally the wine cellar is simply covered in gorgeous green ceramic reliefs. It almost inspires me to do a few laps just to soak it all in.
 

The hotel and café are listed in the Czech register of historic monuments and remain a gem in Prague’s architectural landscape.
 

 

Imperial Hotel and Café

Na Poříčí 15, Prague 1, Nové Město
www.hotel-imperial.cz
hotel tel +420 246 011 600
www.cafeimperial.cz
café hours Mon-Sun 7:00-23:00
café tel +420 246 011 440
metro Náměstí Republiky
tram 8, 24, 26 to Náměstí Republiky
 

 

 

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