fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

A Glass Act

Prague Wows with Parisian Flair

By Sarah Freeman

I must be in Paris, non? Or at least that’s what I pondered while strolling along a sun-dappled, tree-lined boulevard studded with elegant shop fronts where the likes of Gucci and Dior (and soon Chanel) rub shoulders. Christened “Paris Street” in 1926, Prague’s very own Champs-Élysées is more than an unmissable stop for fashionistas; it’s a love letter to the art nouveau. Bisecting the Czech capital’s Jewish district, Pařížská is bookended by two of Prague’s most storied squares: Curie and Old Town, whose medieval Bridge Tower offers an unparalleled pigeon’s-eye view of Pařížská.

Scarcely a five-minute skip across the tourist-polished cobbles from here is the fifty-nine-roomed Emblem Hotel. At this turn-of-the-century communist edifice turned stylish city bolt-hole, even its staff look the part thanks to threads by Czech designer Jakub Polanka.

Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week will take place September 8–14, 2022. | Photo courtesy of LAFORMELA, MBFW

Time-traveling one hundred years through its art deco portico into a sultry space divided by mirrored tile curtains, I enjoyed a desk-less check-in from the comfort of a Chesterfield. It’s one of a coveted collection of bespoke furnishings and handpicked artworks that grace The Emblem’s seven floors, including its moodily lit basement’s game room, copper-clad kitchen, and salon. These guest-only living quarters atone for the property’s small but perfectly formed guestrooms outfitted with Italian leather banquette walls, retro Anglepoise lamps, and backlit, winged headboards.

Like a sun-starved plant reaching for the light, I traded this material world of velvet, chrome, marble, leather, and textured wallpapers for the hotel’s attic M Spa, vaunting a sauna, steam room, and Kneipp bath. The highlight is its outdoor jacuzzi, where guests can soak up views of the world’s largest medieval castle rising above the city’s pretty terra-cotta rooftops.

The Emblem Hotel is one of Prague’s most fashionable accommodations. | Photo courtesy of The Emblem Hotel

The UNESCO monument stands sentinel on the opposite bank of Prague’s Vltava River, best crossed via the city’s statue-studded, pedestrianized Charles Bridge. Fanned out beneath the fairy-tale castle’s soaring spires is Malá Strana, where I uncovered the Mandarin Oriental (MandarinOriental.com/prague) in the district’s labyrinth streets. An unexpected refuge from the city’s midday heat, its ethereal Renaissance-chapel-cum-subterranean-spa is tethered to the main hotel via a sunken hallway. Padding over the even earlier remains of a fourteenth-century convent church (revealed through a series of glass floor panels), I descended into a treatment room with a vaulted ceiling, where I was massaged with poultices of linden blossom from the country’s national tree.

My monastic pilgrimage continued on Vltava’s right bank, where I discovered Europe’s first preaching chapel, Bethlehem, and its charming namesake square. On the corner is V Zátiší (Vzatisi.cz/en)—one of Prague’s first restaurants to open after the country’s 1989 Velvet Revolution—where dynamic chef duo Igor Chramec and Ramesh Mamgain have curated a hybrid fine-dining menu of Indian-Czech dishes. Sinking into a crushed velvet armchair, I opt for one of V Zátiší’s signature starters: an artfully plated lamb tartare with tarragon mayo, mustard seeds, pickled asparagus, and potato pancake. With my tastebuds recalibrated, I forwent the Bohemian specialties and instead tucked into a tiger prawn tandoori oven dish, washed down with naturally fermented cranberry lemonade.

The Municipal House’s interior is just as gorgeous as the outside. | Photo courtesy of Municipal House

Who knew summertime in Prague was all about the lemonade crawl? A sweet spot to start is at waterfront LAb Space (LAbSpace.cz), which sits in the shadow of American-Canadian Frank Gehry’s head-turning Dancing House. Served in lidless jam jars, the zero-waste bar-café’s raspberry-pepper and cucumber-lime lemonades are concocted from homemade syrups. It’s one of a clutch of ice vaults reimagined as gallery spaces, community studios, and riverside bistros accessed through giant glass porthole doors lining the Náplavka embankment.

The Municipal House’s interior is just as gorgeous as the outside. | Photo courtesy of Municipal House

Also straddling the Vltava’s right bank is a Burgher-style building dating back to the 1800s, housing Deelive (Deelive.cz). One of Central Europe’s largest Czech design stores, this is where you’ll discover the latest cohort of artisans reviving the country’s style. Some thousand products beautify its gallery-like interior, including kimono-sleeved blouses and whimsical Wellington boot porcelain vases!

Another address nurturing homegrown talent is Old Town’s Kubista Gallery (Kubista.cz), where you can go square-eyed shopping for cast-iron candle holders, leather clutches, and various jewelry inspired by cubism. Despite the twentieth-century avant-garde art movement having Parisian roots, its architecture took hold almost exclusively in the Czech Republic, spanning an all-too-brief period from 1912 to 1914. House of the Black Madonna (where you’ll find Kubista) was the city’s first cubist building; its broken-lined facade and pyramidal windows distinguish it from its baroque and Gothic neighbors. Swapping its elevator for the building’s spiral staircase, I immerse myself in two floors of cubist bronzes, glassware, book illustrations, and veneer furniture.

The Municipal House’s interior is just as gorgeous as the outside. | Photo courtesy of Municipal House

Cubism was a revolt against the floweriness of art nouveau, which takes center stage at Prague’s celebrated concert venue, Municipal House (ObecniDum.cz). Home to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, its stunning billiard and card rooms are hosting a year-long exhibition called Timeless by Czech fashion designer Blanka Matragi. I scanned the thousands of precious stones and pearls embellishing her hand-painted silk gowns, interspersed with chandeliers and sculptures in the space. Born into a family of glass cutters, award-winning multidisciplinary artist Matragi also designs porcelain for the renowned Czech Thun workshop. Her atelier is open by appointment, accessed via Municipal House’s grille-doored vintage elevator.

A cosmopolitan city rooted in tradition which also embraces reinvention.
Stunning architecture, shopping, and cultural destinations line the Vltava riverbanks in Prague. | Photo courtesy of Prague City Tourism

Matragi’s second love is glassmaking, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages in the Czech Republic. Also referred to as Bohemia crystal, it’s venerated at Andaz—a cultural monument reborn this March as the city’s latest luxury lodgings. Formerly the headquarters of the country’s famous sugar refineries, the 175-room property marks American hotel brand Hyatt’s first entry into the Czech Republic.

Prague’s medieval castle bathed in sunset | Photo courtesy of Prague City Tourism

Suspended from its entrance’s ceiling is a hand-blown, amber-hued glass installation that guides guests along a terrazzo-floor corridor to the hotel’s lobby, styled as a trio of “living rooms.” One pays homage to alchemists during the time of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, another draws inspiration from the city’s frescoed Strahov Monastery library, and the third celebrates Czech glass art.

Christened “Paris Street” in 1926, Prague’s very own Champs-Élysées is more than an unmissable stop for fashionistas; it’s a love letter to the art nouveau.
A look by Liběna Rochová and Umprum at Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week | Photo courtesy of MBFW

Pleasingly, the property’s past life as a neobaroque sugar palace lives on through heritage details like stucco decoration and historic columns. Contemporary flourishes also abound. (Think playful plaster wall reliefs inspired by Czech legends, a skylight mural above its Mez bar, and a bold palette of mustard, forest green, and admiral blue coloring its suites.) With design in its DNA, the property became a natural fit as an official partner of Prague Fashion Week (to be held September 8–14, 2022). Already a firm favorite among the city’s trendsetting crowd, the Andaz’s buzzing ground-floor Zem restaurant serves up contemporized Czech comfort dishes and Japanese izakaya atmosphere and fare, like charcoal-grilled mackerel. In many ways, Zem is the perfect analogy for Prague: a cosmopolitan city rooted in tradition which also embraces reinvention.

— V —

Both concierges of Andaz Prague (Hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/czech/andaz-prague/prgaz) and The Emblem Hotel (EmblemPrague.com) can help coordinate sightseeing, along with Prague’s official Tourist Board website (Prague.eu/en).

Read Responsibly

December 2023, Holiday Issue, Christmas, VIE Magazine, Lisa Burwell, Cover, Gift Guide, Holidays
Marisol Gullo, Not Too Shabby, Home, Decor, Interior Design, Santa Rosa Beach, Churchill Oaks
VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail