The Emblem Hotel in Prague is in bed with artists (quite literally): some of the city’s creative crème de la crème stay for free, in exchange for loaning Emblem their striking artworks. This free-thinking hotel prefers innovative shared spaces to big bedrooms, meaning boudoirs are on the diminutive side, but there’s an entire communal floor dedicated to socialising and relaxing (highlights include the swellegant fumoir). The surprises continue in the bedrooms, one of which has a hidden room tucked away behind a library shelf. In case that wasn’t enough to have you hot-footing it to Prague, there’s also a light-filled spa, a rooftop Jacuzzi and an accomplished restaurant that aces steak and wine...
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Free room upgrade (subject to availability) and a welcome drink each
11am, but flexible, subject to availability (a fee of €150 applies after 1pm). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £180.12 (€204), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates usually exclude breakfast (€20 a person, daily; pick from buffet and à la carte options).
Make the most of the communal floor, whose lures include the decadent Maharal Club (a private members club that guests can access), the elegant Fumoir (cigars at the ready) and the peaceful drawing room.
At the hotel
Covetable and extensive art collection; striking spa; guest living room; a communal floor with a lounge, games room, salon, drawing room and fumoir; on-loan bikes; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air conditioning, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
Bookworms will go weak at the knees for the Library Suite, which has a hidden room tucked away behind a library shelf – seek and ye shall find (a copper bath tub).
Instead of a pool, the hotel has a surprise Jacuzzi on the rooftop terrace, which can be rented out privately. From the steamy comfort of this urban oasis, you can admire the city’s skyline and the castle looming imperiously in the distance.
The light-filled, city-spying M Spa (€10 a person for entry come 2021) beckons invitingly on the seventh floor. It's open from 3pm to 8pm Thursday and Friday, and from 12 noon to 8pm on Saturday and Sunday. Guests can unwind in the relaxation room, sauna, steam room and wellness area, shiver by the ice fountain, reach peak smugness in the fitness centre, and line up a couple of massages or facials starring Pure Altitude products.
Bring an appetite for steak and the city’s world-famous chocolate; save room in your case for Prague-sourced prints and art books.
Pets can stay for a flat fee of €60 a room, which gets them on-loan bowl and bed, plus welcome treats. Four-legged guests are allowed everywhere except the restaurant and spa area. See more pet-friendly hotels in Prague.
Little Smiths are welcome: there’s no cost for cots and under-9s can stay for free in parents’ rooms (older ones can sleep in an extra bed for €70 a night, including breakfast). Babysitting is available for €15 an hour (more after midnight).
Emblem has a heart, donating to a local charity that helps people in need. The hotel favours local farmers for its meat, eggs and produce; energy-efficient light bulbs and eco-conscious cleaning products are used throughout. There’s a fleet of on-loan bikes, so guests don’t have to rely on cars or public transport to gad about.
Copy Emblem’s staff by modeling threads by Prague designers such as Jakub Polanka (responsible for the hotel’s chic uniforms) or Klára Nademlýnská; Mrs Smiths could add jewellery by Antipearle.
Sink your teeth into prime cuts of American beef – matched with highly gluggable Californian wines – at George Prime Steak, where top chef George Betak rustles up crowd-pleasing comfort food. Highlights include the lobster chop salad, baked sparkling oysters, the hefty Porterhouse steak for two, and the self-titled Ultimate Chocolate Cake, which earns its name with dark, white and milk chocolate mousse, crispy nougat layers and a chocolate-infused sponge. (Savoury-toothed Smiths might prefer the decadent cheese platter, which comes with house-made marmalade.) The restaurant is a dark ’n’ dapper space, lorded over by an impressive ceiling light.
The bar is housed within the restaurant; you’ll walk through it to get to the main dining space, so pre-dinner tipples or postprandials are pretty much obligatory). There’s a tempting bar menu if you want to match your Californian cabernet sauvignon to something tasty; pick from burgers, salads, truffled mac’n’cheese, poutine and more…
The restaurant opens from 6pm to 10pm from Tuesday to Saturday.
Emblem has no intention of letting you go thirsty or hungry: the 24-hour room service stars items from the restaurant menu, including salads, soups, steak, mains and desserts until 10pm; after that, there’s a smaller selection (burgers. pizzas and so on).
Emblem Hotel has a prime Prague location in the historic city centre, a short walk from heritage headline acts, including the Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter and the Charles Bridge.
The Emblem Hotel is just 15 minutes away from Prague’s international airport, Václav Havel. Just give Smith24 a ring and they’ll sort your flights. From the airport, it’s a half-hour drive to the hotel; let Smith24 know if you need transfers arranged with the hotel, which cost €30 each way (a booking) in a car, or €45 in an eight-seater minivan.
Hlavní Nádraží station is just four kilometres from the hotel, with services connecting to all of Europe’s capital cities (http://czech-transport.com). Smith24 can sort hotel transfers for you (€20 in a car; more for a minivan).
This city-central hotel doesn’t have any of its own parking spaces. However, guests can entrust their cars to the hotel’s capable bell boys, who will park them in a secure underground garage, a five-minute walk from the hotel (€40 daily).
Worth getting out of bed for
Emblem is well connected, and nurtures relationships with artists and other movers and shakers in Prague’s cultural scene – as a result, guests are sometimes offered free tickets to fashion shows, art exhibitions, music festivals and more. Join a free art walk, run by the hotel, to discover Prague’s hotbed of creative talent. Bookworms are advised to pay a trip to the hotel’s library, which is shaping up to be a treasure trove of tomes on art and architecture. Arterial Pařížská Street is a short walk away, dotted with tempting designer stores; since Emblem is in the historic city centre, all the cultural sites and museums are within walking distance (the Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter and the Charles Bridge, for starters). Emblem’s excellent concierge can tailormake suggestions and itineraries to suit guests’ interests.
La Finestra at Platnéřská 90/13 in the Old Town is arguably Prague’s best Italian restaurant; head there for perfect pastas and pizzas. Admire the views – and the accomplished international cuisine – at Restaurant u Zlaté studně, which enjoys a prime position beneath Prague’s castle, at Terasa U Zlaté Studně. Carnivores will love traditional, meat-centric Nasemaso; you might find yourselves standing up while you munch on your meat, but these cuts are worth sacrificing seats for. For fresh, delicious Asian flavours, head to SaSaZu at Bubenské nábřeží.
Have Sunday brunch like the locals at characterful Café Savoy, at Vítězná 5.
Tretters Bar is Prague’s oldest drinking den; it continues to deliver on cocktails and cool points. The bar is tucked away on V Kolkovně. Hemingway fans should surely have a tipple or two at Hemingway Bar on Karoliny Světlé, which serves cocktails strong enough to sate a hardened author.
Mrs Smith and I decided that for our anniversary we would pack the thermals and take a winter trip to Prague to spend a few days wandering its cobbled streets and soaking up the stunning array of architecture.
Tucked quietly just behind the hustle and bustle of the Old Town Square, and near the people-packed Charles Bridge, is the Emblem Hotel. From the moment you step into its entrance, there’s an air of calm and tranquillity that washes over you – more than enough to make those vibrant streets that are just yards behind you feel like miles away.
The Emblem is a hotel that manages to marry comfort and eloquence harmoniously – minimalist decor, art-filled walls (the hotel champions Czech artists, offering them free nights in exchange for on-loan pieces), clean, minimal rooms… Waking up in the morning on a perfectly sprung mattress with the blackout curtains not letting in a single creep of light is the perfect start to any day.
Over breakfast the eggs are served as fluffy as the American pancakes, and washed down with steaming hot coffee, fresh juices and a whole buffet of tempting options. It’s the perfect preparation for city exploring.
Location-wise, the Emblem couldn’t be better suited. A few steps out the front door and the whole city feels within easy reach. Prague’s galleries, museums, churches, shops, restaurants and bars are plentiful and one could fill days without straying too far from your front door.
However, exploring further afield is made much easier thanks to the thoughtfulness of the hotel. In your room you’ll find a guest smartphone to take out with you (free of charge) helping to avoid costly data-roaming charges and doubling up as a personal navigation device. Exploring the winding paths of Pet?ín park becomes a breeze, as we found when we wandered to the top to climb its Eiffel Tower-like observation tower and look out over the spectacular views of the city before retreating for trdelník (a local, and delicious, sugary pastry).
After a day walking the streets and climbing the steep steps up towards the towering Prague Castle, a little relaxation was needed. The Emblem most certainly knows how to help. The guests-only basement operates as the M Lounge, a classy series of rooms aimed for ultimate relaxation. You can help yourself to juices, teas and coffees and there are countless chairs and sofas to unwind in.
The rooms are loaded with an eye-catching collection of books, spanning art, photography, culture and history. There is even a games room, where you can relax (or argue) over a game of Scrabble or sit back in front of the giant TV and play a little Xbox. It’s a giant living room, essentially, offering somewhere to put your feet up and relax after a long day – a home from home.
However, should you wish to plunge even deeper into relaxation mode then make your way to the top floor M Spa. Here you’ll find a sauna, steam room, ice fountain and relaxation room. Given it was our anniversary, we decided to hire the rooftop Jacuzzi for an hour. We drank the bottle of prosecco that came as part of the package and soaked in steamy hot bubbles looking out over the Prague sunset; the sky dissolving into to a warm orange glow. A special moment.
Feeling as relaxed as can be, we dined in the in-house George Prime Steak restaurant. The steaks were sizzling and succulent and the side of sautéed wild mushrooms were the perfect accompaniment. We ended our stay by retiring to the cosy bar, where the gentle flicker of candles proved as soothing as the music.
Sucked in by the allure of their excellent cocktail menu, we couldn’t resist a nightcap. Their smoky old fashioned – the glass gently filled with apple wood smoke – remains one of the finest, most perfectly mixed and sippably smooth cocktails I’ve ever had. This ended our stay just as we’d begun it: in total comfort and in a blissful state of complete calm and tranquillity.