This is a guest post by Matt Carter.
Known as the City of Spires, Prague’s endless visitation by tourists seems almost constant 365 days a year. But after the mad rush of summer – with everyone from backpackers to vacationing families crowding its cobbled streets – the Czech capital experiences a small breather as the leaves turn to autumn shades.
Early Fall may prove to be one of the best times to experience the city, with more wiggle room to explore its twisting narrow side streets. For most, Old Town is the first stop on many a visitor’s itinerary, its artistic past includes inspiring the music of composer Carl Maria von Weber and the writings of Franz Kafka. When taking in Prague’s atypical museums, bohemian crystal boutiques and abundant art galleries there is no better way to position yourself in the culturally infused city center than a stay at the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel.
This noble architectural treasure sits on a quiet corner on Panska Street, just off the heavily-trodden tourists’ path, but in prefect proximity to the main attractions such as Wenceslas Square and the shopping district of Namesti Republiky, while bordering Prague’s New and Old Towns. The hotel itself is a love letter of Prague’s rich artisan history. In 1909, Prague builder and hotel proprietor, František Buldra, together with architect George Justich, launched the development of the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel’s original medieval groundwork. The building itself was completed on in April of 1909. When the Iron Curtain fell, the hotel was restored to its former glory while preserving its simple Viennese features that distinguish the property from other art nouveau structures in Prague.
Today, Art Nouveau Palace Hotel is a staple of Prague’s whimsical luxury. Its Deluxe rooms vibrate with a mellow pallet of golds, yellows and reds, contrasted with dark forest greens. The sparking Italian “Carrara” marble bathrooms come with a deep tub for soaking, with complimentary robes, and each room offers a selection of tea and coffee to start the day. There’s free high-speed Internet throughout the entire hotel, and rooms are equipped with comfortable seating and a work desk if you need to catch up on any emails or plan your day’s itinerary.
After you rise, head down to the buffet, nearly any breakfast food you could desire awaits you there and far contrary to the European continental staples of cold meats, eggs and bread. Located on the second floor, the breakfast area brings you eye-level with ornate glittering chandeliers that cascade down into the classy, ambience of the lobby below.
Now you’re ready to walk! Directly across from the Palace you’ll find the Mucha Museum, which exhibits the works of the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. Then head to Old Town and weave through the narrow streets, past the Astrological clock and take the “Royal Way” – a route going through the historical center of Prague that connects the former Royal Court with the Prague Castle. The Royal way starts in the Old Town, crosses over the Vltava River, by way of the Charles Bridge, winds through the Lesser Town and leads you straight up to the Prague Castle. Along the way you will find plenty of opportunity to fill your bags with souvenirs – Czech crystal, local schnapps (Becherovka and Slivovice), glowing green bottles of absinth, and boxes of traditional Czech spa wafers.
Heading in the opposite direction from the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel, you can stroll the pedestrian streets towards the square, Namesti Republiky. Here you’ll find the Hybernia Theatre (Divadlo Hybernia), which stands on the site of a former Benedictine church, and presents a varied program of ballet, classical concerts and theatre performances. Just opposite it is the Powder Tower, or Powder Gate, which is a Gothic tower and one of the original city gates, dating back to the 11th century.
Just 10 minutes walking distance away, stop by the Palace’s sister property Café Imperial, which houses the most popular “Grand Café House” in Prague for the past 100 years. Experience an opulent Art Deco dreamscape with original Art Noveau ceramic wall tiling from 1914 and brass adornments. Try a bowl onion soup and stay for a slice of cake!
After a day on your feet, you’ll probably start thinking about food again. If you haven’t already stuffed yourself with Prague’s infamous goulash or fried cheese, washed down with crisp pints of ice cold beer, head back to the Palace’s Gourmet Club restaurant for dinner, which was ranked in the “Top 10 International Restaurants in Prague.” Here you can enjoy a wide selection of USDA Black Angus Beef specialties in a cozy turn-of-the-century English-style atmosphere, complete with ballroom piano jazz.
Remember to reserve an hour in the private sauna. Here you rejuvenate on the hot planks of cedar, or relax in the private lounge area on a recliner with a magazine, bundled in a fresh robe with a cold bottle of water.
Your nights will be filled with the city’s stone fairy-tale landscape alit for beautiful views, ideal for enjoying from any of the city center’s quirky water holes. If you happen to doubt any of the elegance The Art Nouveau is offering, then know that you will be staying in a place with the likes of presidents, John Malkovich, and even Whoopi Goldberg.
– Matt Carter
Photographs by Melanie Sevcenko for Socially Superlative
The Art Nouveau Palace Hotel
111 21 Prague 1
Tel: +420 224 093 111,
Fax: +420 224 221 240
Socially Superlative readers will receive 10% off their stay when booking through the hotel’s website using promo code: WELCOME
About the author:
Matthew Carter studied abroad in Trondheim, Norway, where he played drums for college credit. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary studies: Journalism with Poli Sci from SDSU, he then moved to Portland, OR, and continued his career as a music venue manager. Now living in Berlin, Germany, his work has appeared in DJ Broadcast, Truth-Out and Occupy.com. Matt currently works as a guide giving tours of street art in Berlin.