Heads on Beds: Aria Hotel, Prague
Checking in to Prague's most musical hotel
A fair number of hotels have their own private screening room but not many have their own music director. Musicologist Dr Ivana Stehlikova has her own office in Aria from which she lends out music CDs and DVDs and advises guests on which cultural and musical sights and sounds to take in during their stay.
Aria is infused with music. Its owner, a music-loving Czech film producer, commissioned Milanese architects Rocco Magnoli and Lorenzo Carmellini to create an architecturally distinctive hotel in Prague’s Mala Srana district and to fill it with music. Guests enter through a passageway where the floor has been laid in mosaics to resemble a music score. This leads past reception to a gated and roofed atrium known as the Winter Garden.
The musical theme is continued in series of cartoons of musicians, composers and musical genres from Dvo?ák to Elvis, Mozart to Billie Holiday, Bossa Nova, from Puccini, Brahms to British Rock and Bernstein to Swing and Fusion. Each of the rooms is themed around one of these great musical influences. The Czech caricaturist responsible for these unforgettable images is Joseph Blecha. When Morgan Freeman stayed at Aria last year for his birthday he was so taken with Blecha’s image of Billie Holiday in his room that friends bought him a signed copy.
Track It Down
The Aria is located in Mala Strana (Little Quarter), the left-bank neighbourhood founded in 1257 and hardly changed since the 18th century. It’s a small area of Baroque palaces, churches and gardens squeezed in between the Vltava River and Prague Castle. Aria Hotel is a short walk from some of Prague’s most impressive sights, including the castle itself , the Charles Bridge, St Nicholas Cathedral and the Old Town Square.
The hotel is next to Vrtbovska, Prague’s oldest baroque garden and a UNESCO World Heritage site to which guests have private access between 6pm and 9pm in the summer. A taxi from Prague’s Ruzyne airport costs 800 CZK (£24).
All the guest relations staff speak English, German, Italian and Russian.
After reception guests pass into the Winter Garden, which forms the magnificent heart of the Aria Hotel. A concert-quality Petrof grand piano has been installed for live entertainment in the evenings.
Room to manoeuvre
There are 52 rooms, each decorated with original Blecha artwork of the musician, composer or genre in question and filled with a selection of books. A flat screen computer in each room features the biography of the composer or artist associated with that room and there is an iPod connection loaded with music of all 52 composers/performers.
All rooms have the same wool carpeting that features a pattern of musical notes. Bathrooms are luxurious, with Chilean granite heated floors, inlaid glass mosaic, polished granite countertops accented by mahogany shelving, and your choice of piped-in music. Frette bathrobes are provided, as are Molton Brown bath products.
Guest rooms feature in-room entertainment systems with access to the extensive DVD and CD library, plus a work station with Internet access. Each room is equipped with 2 line Teledex Hotel Phones featuring Voice Mail and speaker. In-room WiFi is free of charge.
The hotel’s business centre is located next to lobby and is accessible 24 hours free of charge. There is free colour printer but only one workstation because each guest room is equipped with a PC.
The first-floor fitness centre is equipped with cardio-vascular machines, free weights and LifeFitness strength-training machines. There is also a steam room.
Raid the minibar
Minibars are stocked with soft drinks, wines, beers, Hennessey Cognac or Champagne. Prices start at 85 CZK (£2.50) for soft drinks. Wine sells at 350 CZK (£10.50); beer at 95 CZK (£2.85). You can also enjoy a drink in the ground floor Coda Restaurant where the counter has been designed to resemble the lid of a grand piano.
Breakfast is included in the tariff and is served in the Winter Garden’s Coda Restaurant from 7am till 11am daily. A selection of international newspapers is available.
Deluxe rooms start at 210 EUR (£158) per night and include not only breakfast but also complimentary valet parking. Junior suites start at 300 EUR (£226) and luxury suites at 500 EUR (£377). Top of the range is the Mozart suite with two bedrooms, kitchen and lounge which costs 1,200 EUR (£906) per night.
Aria Hotel, Tržišt? 9, 118 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic (00 420 225 334 111; www.aria.cz)
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