Located in a prior monastery dating back to the 14th century, The Mandarin Oriental in Prague which opened in 2006 sits regally in the Malá Strana district, a picturesque quarter in the heart of the “Golden City”.
Adjacent to the Czech Museum of Music and only a five minute walk to the famous Charles Bridge, Mandarin Oriental seamlessly marries legendary Asian hospitality with historical European charm. The quiet earthy interiors with grand vaulted ceilings and arched doorways are skilfully dotted with modern artworks and designer furnishings creating a fine balance of traditional reverence and contemporary elegance.
Contending with this fairy-tale city’s magnificent architecture, the hotel was bestowed the celebrated “Building of the Year” award in 2007, presented annually by the Czech government. It was selected for its particularly thoughtful and innovative approach to transforming and resuscitating its historical past into a new avatar as a luxury hotel.
Nestled in an ancient section of the left bank, the 99 room Mandarin Oriental encompasses a set of buildings steeped in history. Part-Renaissance, part-Baroque and part-Modern, the distinctive structures embody over six centuries of architecture. Formerly a Dominican monastery, the hotel has effortlessly integrated a significant portion of the outer wall of St. Mary Magdalene (one of the oldest churches built around 1330) into its layout.
With the savoir-faire of prominent Dům a Město Architects and architectural consultant Otakar Dvořák, AIA, the Mandarin Oriental carefully preserves and highlights its distinguished heritage with flair, subtly introducing trademark Oriental touches that result in a grandeur as distinctive as the city itself.
All guestrooms though individually furnished retain their original architecture and are strewn with natural woven rugs, polished stone and time-worn parquet floors that echo the history of the place. Contemporary Asian touches, sumptuous drapes, silken throw pillows and rich upholstery bathe the rooms in understated lavishness, while the sprawling bathrooms, designed as private spas are clad in smooth limestone, featuring heated floors and pampering bath products.
Thirteen Deluxe Terrace rooms offer ultimate luxe with private patios leading onto fragrant flower gardens, though the hotel’s gems are its five unique signature suites. Two Moser Crystal Suites located in the Baroque wing feature stunning accoutrements by Moser, the Czech Republic’s premier crystal manufacturer.
The Oriental Suite located on the top of the former Renaissance chapel that now houses the spa has conspicuous curved walls, while the elegant Lazar Suite, exquisitely bedecked in the inimitable Mandarin Oriental style is perfect for high profile families who need privacy. Meanwhile, the Presidential Penthouse Suite commands panoramas of the entire city, including a large private terrace with a jaw-dropping view of Prague Castle.
Spices Restaurant and Bar, and the hotel lobby with its beautiful vaulted ceilings, muted colours and purposeful lighting have been refurbished by British design studio Black Sheep who treated the spaces as an opportunity to pay homage to its 17th century past. Signature Oriental touches have been tastefully amalgamated with wood, metal, leather and marble creating a glorious timeless feel.
All relics uncovered during the renovation and rebuilding of the property are displayed throughout the hotel, the most striking being the remains of a Gothic church showcased in the spa area. The award winning holistic spa is situated in what was once a Renaissance chapel, connected by an underground passageway, allowing guests to retreat to their rooms in complete privacy.
Entering through a dramatically lit lobby that was the former nave, (treading on glass flooring that displays the ruins of the church below) the entire atmosphere is palpable with a sense of deep veneration. Spread over two floors, the spa proffers seven treatment rooms, each with unique architectural characteristics crowned with either old vaulted or arched ceilings that give guests a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Each Mandarin Oriental hotel in the world has its own fan, a profoundly meaningful symbol of the group’s Oriental culture that also links each property to its individual legacy. In Prague, the creation of the fan was entrusted to Mrs Jarmila Mucha Plocková, the granddaughter of celebrated artist Alfons Mucha. Hand painted on special rice paper, it has a peacock design taken from one of Mucha’s works – a symbol of beauty, loyalty and empathy, as well as a reminder to take pleasure in the finer things in life, a fitting image for the Mandarin Oriental.
The Mandarin Oriental’s repute for refined quietude is if anything magnified here in Prague by the historical aura of the gothic, baroque and renaissance buildings. Blending discreet luxury with impeccable service, this fascinating property is enchantingly unforgettable.
Text By Natalie Pedder-Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Mandarin Oriental