Hotel review: Hotel Emblem, Prague
The doors open to reveal a small, tall desk – the sort that a maître d’ might stand behind in a restaurant. Given that the George Restaurant is to the left, this is a little confusing. But I’m ushered into a moodily lit side room, where I’m offered a drink. It’s a relaxed, resorty approach – and, eventually, a perky employee comes around with an iPad to check me in.
Being in the Staré Mesto (Old Town) area of Prague can be a blessing and a curse, but The Emblem’s position within the district is nigh on perfect. It’s on a relatively quiet street, with many key sights and good restaurants just a few minutes’ walk away. But it’s not on one of the stress-inducing thoroughfares that teem with visitors all day, and there’s an awful lot of pretty architecture around. You’ll not catch too many glimpses of genuine local life in these parts, but it’s a perfect sightseeing base.
Silvery, shimmering curtains meet a coarse wooden floor and a giant backlit headboard that looks like it has wings on the side. The same launching-spaceship-esque effect is played out with the enormous floor-to-ceiling mirror. It’s aiming for knock-your-socks-off design rather than warm cosiness – and it succeeds. The bathroom is an assault of grey and white marble, topped with an undeniably cool, trough-like stone basin. Huge, it is not. Impressive, it most certainly is.
There’s no faux old-fashioned grandeur here. The Emblem has all its guns blazing in the direction of sleek, future-is-here, 21st-century urbanity. Easels showing off the arrestingly odd artworks of a Canadian-born but Prague-resident “psycho-cartographer” are found outside the lift, while mood-lit alcoves win out over big open spaces. It’s the domain of the cool-hunting city breaker who wants to pick out the best, rather than the highlight-trawling box ticker.
A nosy trip up to the seventh floor spa area – there’s a small rooftop deck and Jacuzzi with lovely views of Prague Castle – sums up the service. The woman behind the desk is eager not just to tell me what there is, but to show me around everything, too. The people who work here are clearly enthused with the place, and that stops what can be overattentiveness from grating too often.
The George restaurant serves undeniably excellent steaks – the 830-Czech-koruna (Dh154) filet mignon is dreamily tender – but the vibe isn’t quite right. It’s going for the showy American power-dining steakhouse feel – the sort of place that draws people in purely because it’s expensive. The service – being asked if I want another drink four times in 10 minutes – is annoyingly over the top.
The downstairs Maharal Club is a valiant attempt to give hotel guests a social area in which to mingle. With a private members’ club vibe, it has a games room and a big-screen lounge area – ideal for sporting events.
The rooms are somewhat lacking on the storage front. The comfy chair in the corner quickly became an impromptu luggage rack.
Prague has a fair number of design-focused hotels, but The Emblem brings a sense of class and gravitas along with the flair. There’s a feeling of in-the-know exclusivity, and it’s a lot more special than a dry facilities list may suggest.
The bottom line
Queen rooms are available from €155.80 (Dh797) a night, excluding breakfast. The Emblem Hotel, Platnérská 19, Prague, Czech Republic (www.emblemprague.com; 00420 226 202 500).
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Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM