Room Round-Up

With ASTA’s upcoming International Destination Expo (IDE) to be held in March in Prague, TravelAge West visited a number of the hotels that will be a part of the expo offerings.

By: Kenneth Shapiro

In the U.S., when a hotelier wants to impress customers with the famous guests that have stayed at the hotel you are likely to hear about Madonna, or Britney or Brad and Jennifer. (Or should that be Brad and Angelina?) In Prague, you might just find out a Czar slept here as in the Czar. Now that’s star power.

In fact, because most of Prague was spared bombing during World War II, the architecture and history of this European Capital is well preserved. You could be walking down the street and come across a concert hall where Mozart performed.

Unfortunately, while many of the city’s buildings survived WWII, the influence of Soviet architecture is another story. The Soviet era left a number of buildings, including some hotels, looking more akin to grim office buildings. On the bright side, the Czech tourism industry has been booming practically since the day the Berlin Wall fell, so there has been ample time and motivation to rebuild or renovate. Agents therefore should not judge a book by its cover, and remember that fortunately, guests can’t see the outside of the hotel while they are inside enjoying it.

Here then are a few hotels participating in ASTA’s International Destination Expo. The organization reportedly has 1,000 rooms blocked for the IDE and current registration was at 500 agents, so there should be plenty of space for attendees. Check ASTA’s Web site for negotiated room rates.

(Note: Another important fact to keep in mind is that Prague officials have promised free public transportation via a commuter pass for all IDE attendees. This makes all the hotels below even more convenient to the Congress Centre.)

Holiday Inn

Probably the most ideal location for the IDE is either close to the sights of Old Town Prague, or close to the Exhibition Center. When it comes to the latter, you can’t beat the location of the Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre, as it is literally steps from the center’s doors.

And this is not your typical Holiday Inn either.

Built in 1999 especially for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, from the first moments in the lobby, guests will be struck by a sophisticated design sense that seems more at home with a boutique hotel than a Holiday Inn. In particular, the hotel restaurant, Cafe Restaurant Esprit, is a striking setting for meals and intimate cocktail parties especially the recently finished summer garden room, which can either have glassed-in walls or can open up to the outdoors.

The 251 guestrooms are well appointed and comfortable, with modern decor. Amenities include satellite TV, a pillow menu, a small complementary gym and more. High-tech security touches include a special door-key-and-safe system with sensors that help detect intruders. There are also 50 executive rooms and eight suites in the six-floor hotel, but the added features here didn’t seem especially worth the extra expense to us.

In addition to being next door to the Congress Centre, the hotel is only two stops by metro to Prague Old Town area.


Corinthia Towers

Located directly across a roadway from the Congress Centre, the Corinthia Towers doesn’t look like much from the outside, but on the inside this hotel has everything a guest could want from an upscale business hotel.

Built in 1988, this 24-floor hotel has 544 rooms and 39 suites. While the rooms and public spaces are all top-notch, the hotel has two unique features that really make it stand out. First, is Level 25, the top-floor health and fitness center complete with an indoor pool surrounded by windows that look out over the city (around $14 for a day pass for guests). The second special feature is the Beer & Bowling restaurant on the lower level. This classic sports bar features two, 10-pin bowling lanes right inside the bar, making it a popular weekend hangout for locals.


Hilton Prague

A little farther from the congress hall, but within walking distance of the city center, the 788-room Hilton Prague is the largest five-star hotel in the Czech Republic. The Hilton has been the home hotel for a string of major international events and has hosted a wide range of foreign leaders, including President Bush.

While many of the hotel’s guestrooms are in need of an update, Hilton is planning to renovate all the rooms by 2007. For now, the best rooms in the hotel are on the Executive levels. These rooms not only have separate check-ins and a well-appointed lounge solely for Executive level guests, but the rooms themselves are very nice. In fact, these rooms have the decor that will eventually be used in the rest of the hotel after the renovation.

The Hilton has all the standard features guests would expect from a premier property, including the Cybex health club and spa, one of the most modern fitness centers in Prague.

The Hilton also has a Duty Manager on the premises 24 hours a day whose job it is to handle any guest situations that may arise, including medical, legal or security problems.


Prague's hotels offer something for everyone.

Hotel Paris

For those looking for a more intimate hotel, one full of old-world charm, the Hotel Paris will not disappoint.

Originally built in 1904, the hotel has had only two owners in its 100-plus-year history. The hotel’s 86 guestrooms were renovated this year, and throughout the historic property, guests will find unique Art Nouveau details.

Though the hotel is over 100 years old, rooms have all the modern conveniences including satellite TV, high-speed Internet and in-room heating and air conditioning. There is a small, but well designed spa in the basement, and on the ground floor there is the stylish Sarah Bernhardt Restaurant and a charming cafe and bar that is great for coffee or cocktails.

One of the hotel’s greatest draw, however, is its location right in the heart of historical Prague only minutes away from the Old Town Square and other important sights.


InterContinental Prague

Another hotel in the heart of the city center is the venerable InterContinental Prague. Built in 1974, the exterior might seem a bit dated, but inside, the hotel has all the upscale details one would expect from an InterCon.

The hotel features 372 rooms, including 89 suites, each equipped with all the standard amenities. Of special note are the restaurants, with one of the best buffets in Prague as well as several other eateries.

The real highlight of the hotel, however, is its Zlata Praha restaurant on the top floor. This fine-dining restaurant features incredible views of Old Town Prague from both inside, and outside on the open-air terrace. The terrace is also a great place for sunset cocktails. Even locals consider the view from the restaurant one of the best in Prague.



Masterful Meals

Attendees to the IDE should be treated to some fine dining during the expo courtesy of Sanjiv Suri, president of the Zatisi Catering Group. Suri is in charge of catering at the Congress Centre, and is also one of the hottest restaurateurs in Prague. He and his team have prepared meals for a wide array of foreign dignitaries.