Prague's Hotel Josef
The only thing better than a laid-back stroll around Prague during the winter holidays is to be able to come back to the Hotel Josef. Set on an ancient street a short walk from the Old Town Square and on the edge of the old Jewish Quarter, it's an ideal location for exploring the city—if not for the famous statue of Kafka riding the shoulders of a headless giant staring at the hotel alone.
The basic materials used in building the hotel—glass, limestone and chrome—reflect light that dances between the surfaces, seemingly illuminating the space beyond its physical boundaries. Communist functionalism has more in common with fine design than one would think and the hotel designer, Eva Jiricna, has extracted the best elements of Prague and modernized them with a minute attention to detail. Every inch of the hotel is thought through. The rooms are well-spaced, the beds are cushy but firm (the bed was actually hard to judge because each time I began to contemplate it I fell fast asleep) and the bathrooms are modern yet comfortable. The glass shower is simple and usable without the usual leaks or design flaws that are all-too-often the consequence of such a feature.
Off-white hues accented by pinks and oranges give the hotel a bright personality. The visual contrast of the bright and bubbly Hotel Josef in the middle of Prague's dark, brooding streets says a lot about the hotel and its staff as they are eager to please. In the rooms you'll find jogging maps and a comprehensive guide to Prague's best restaurants and nightlife—or if you prefer a night in, the large DVD library and a promising room service menu. The hotel also offers a limousine service, transportation around Prague and even the whole Czech Republic, if you plan ahead.
The most common visitor to the Hotel Josef is most likely the business traveler. The weary will find the simplicity of the rooms welcoming—they are sound-proof and go pitch black. Josef also features a brand new dry heat sauna and all different styles of massage available by appointment. On the business end, the hotel is equipped with free WiFi and two conference rooms, accessible via a fantastic glass and chrome spiral staircase that is the spectacle of the lobby.
The lobby bar is also worth a visit if you are a guest over the summer. In fact, you may bump into the Czech literati who stay there during the Prague Writers' Festival. The menu options are colorful and many—everything from champagne with strawberries to cigars and fine scotch. Many rave about the hotel's specialty drink "The Josef," which is good, but in my opinion their Mojito is something to behold.