More luxury than ever in Prague's hotels

From the riverside Four Seasons to the palatial Pariz, swanky travellers can choose from nearly 30 luxury hotels in the Czech Republic’s capital city, Prague.

And next year the directory of five-star accommodation is expected to grow along with the city’s expanding tourist industry.

During 2005, city officials issued building permits for at least seven new hotels. Some could be completed in 2006.

At least two on the drawing boards—the proposed Diamant on Wenceslas Square and the Paladium near Republic Square—are expected to cater to an upscale crowd.

In addition, a French hotelier recently unveiled plans to open a posh Prague version of Le Royal Meredien by 2009.
The project includes the 1,3-billion-koruna ($54-million) reconstruction of a former bank headquarters.

Last year, Italy’s Boscolo Group opened the red-carpet Carlo IV hotel in another converted bank and began offering one night for one person in a presidential suite for â,¬3 000, breakfast and taxes not included.

The Four Seasons near the Charles Bridge is a popular stopover for the celebrity crowd. Past guests have included Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson.

A hot spot from the city’s communist era is the Hotel Praha. Formerly a hangout for communist party leaders, it is tucked into a residential area but perched on a hill overlooking the city centre.

The Presidential and Intercontinental hotels in the heart of the city’s Jewish Quarter share an interesting Cold War history. In times past, Westerners were required to stay at the Intercontinental because its rooms were bugged, while communist officials stayed at the Presidential next door.

More luxury rooms with striking views can be found at the Corinthia Towers, a huge steel-and-glass tower that until recently was legally off-limits for Americans because of its owners’ ties to the Libyan government.

The upscale Hotel U Prince is directly across a square from the famous Astronomical Clock and features a rooftop café where even commoners are allowed to order coffee.

The list of luxury hotels where “budget” prices start at â,¬210 a night goes on and on.

But for those with less money to burn, Prague also has about 100 four-star hotels and hundreds of less expensive facilities, including student hostels and very basic hotels called “pensions” scattered around town.—Sapa-DPA

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