24-Hour Room Service

Hotel Pariz, Prague
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The Independent Travel

The term Art Nouveau was coined in Paris and it's easy to see where the Pariz, just five minute's walk from the heart of Prague's magical Old Town, got its inspiration. The hotel is an architectural gem of mosaics, statuettes, wrought-iron fixtures and crystal, all decorated in shades of green, pale blue and gold. In the café society of pre-war Prague, the Pariz was the place to be seen.

The term Art Nouveau was coined in Paris and it's easy to see where the Pariz, just five minute's walk from the heart of Prague's magical Old Town, got its inspiration. The hotel is an architectural gem of mosaics, statuettes, wrought-iron fixtures and crystal, all decorated in shades of green, pale blue and gold. In the café society of pre-war Prague, the Pariz was the place to be seen.

I stayed here 12 years ago, when the Pariz was run by the Communists and received a masterclass in Soviet service, all rudeness and indifference and a final dinner bill at least three times what it should have been. How things have changed: President Vaclav Havel even brings visiting heads of state here for the occasional coffee.

You could order a salmon sandwich from room service but this is really a hotel to explore. Start with a glass of Moravian wine in the Café de Paris with its sumptuous decor before passing into the Sarah Bernhardt restaurant where you can feast on Czech specialities such as dumplings (knedliky) or try the more refined ravioli filled with salmon and carrot sauce. Dishes are more than reasonably priced: main courses are around £10, wine from £12 a bottle.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Hotel Pariz is at U obecniho domu 1, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic (00 420 2 22 195 195, www.hotel-pariz.cz).

Time from airport: a taxi from Prague's Ruzyne airport will cost around £15; a minibus from outside the arrivals hall costs £1.60 per person and will take you to the Namesti Republik metro station, barely 30 metres from the Pariz.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

There are 93 rooms, all air conditioned and all with wall-to-wall Art Nouveau, even down to the waste-paper basket, net curtains and the green umbrella lamps. Chairs and other furnishings, tall and svelte, echo the theme. The bed was luxurious and an ideal place to sleep off any excess of Czech Budvar. The bathrooms have heated floors that come in handy during Prague's cold winter and are decorated with restful blue and white tiles. Rooms at the front look onto the grandiose Municipal House and offer bay windows and a balcony. Rooms at the back overlook a Soviet-style shopping centre.

Freebies: no toys or trinkets, but we were offered a half-price dinner on our first night. If you're too honest to pinch your bathroom towel, you can always buy one, adorned in, yes, Art-Nouveau gold lettering, for the price of £12.50.

Keeping in touch: the television and phone are about the only concessions to modernity. The hotel keeps the usual fax and e-mail facilities in the lobby.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms cost £189, while the mind-boggling luxury of the Mucha suite will cost you £840.

I'm not paying that: do try to, if only for one night, then switch to the comfy Hostel U Melounu, at 7/457 Ke Karlovu Street right in the heart of the Old Town. Rooms cost £11 with private bathroom (00 42 2 24 91 83 22; www.hostelumelounu.cz).

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