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MINIVIEW: Balancing heritage and playful design inside Maximilian Hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
MINIVIEW: Balancing heritage and playful design inside Maximilian Hotel

Known locally as one of Prague’s most established boutique hotels, redesigning the 71-key Maximilian Hotel called upon experienced minds and skilful to sensitively reimagine and redesign the hotel’s interiors. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in for a sneak peek…

Situated on Haštalská Street facing the Haštal Church – close to Prague’s Old Town Square, Maximilian Hotel was first opened in 1995, and was last last renovated by Czech architect Eva Jiřičná in 2005.

Since then, an evolving demand among international savvy travellers has called for a new kind of F&B areas. Combine this with the rise of the urban ‘hometel’ hotel, the hotel was in drastic need of tender, love and meaningful care.

Commissioned by the owners, Christian and Rudolf Ploberger, Conran and Partners was given the task to sensitively restore the hotel to its former glory, adding a modern mix of personality and character without diluting its charm – something that, considering the architectural shells of the hotel, was easier said than done.  “Maximilian presented us with interesting challenges,” says Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners. “It consists of two different buildings with different architectural styles, which are connected on the ground floor by a linear series of previously underutilised public areas. Our challenge was to open up and unify these spaces to create a coherent and engaging journey for guests and visitors.”

Previously, only a limited food and beverage offer existed in the front-of-house areas. The design team have added a café and bar at the main entrance, which animates the building’s façade and engages with the adjacent streetscape, including a small tree-lined paved area directly in front of the church opposite.

In addition, the ground floor spaces were re-worked to include a brasserie within the new living room hub at the heart of the hotel, providing social spaces for guests and visitors. The Plobergers have teamed up with innovative Austrian restauranteur Marco Simonis to create the F&B concepts for the hotel.

Martina Honcikova, Maximilian’s Creative Director, adds: “The new brasserie is a wonderful additon to the Prague gourmet scene and the reconfigured spaces within the hotel will allow us to host a range of private and public events. The design approach is highly creative – yet practical – and has helped to confirm Maximilian’s position as one of Prague’s leading hotels.”

Conran and Partners’ design approach for the 71-key hotel reflects the cultural and architectural heritage of its urban context, referencing Czech modernism and the progressive art movement influenced by famous avant-garde artist and architectural writer, Karel Teige. Teige developed a version of the modernist principle that was based on much softer elements than many of his peers; his poetic modernism embraced elements such as texture and colour as well as more playful elements also represented in his many surreal collage works.

The design team wanted to retain a strong element of Teige’s poetic modernism while creating sense of place rooted in the city and the neighbourhood. This involved drawing upon the iconic pastel colour palette of Prague’s architecture and local crafts – including weaving and glass-making – for the materiality of the design.

“By respecting the heritage of the original building and through an inspiring collaboration with Conran and Partners, we have created a chic, contemporary urban dwelling that brings together the best of Czech tradition, culture and design with brasserie-style food,” says Rudolf Ploberger, co-owner of Maximilian. “The new design will allow us to focus on the needs of our guests to ensure that they experience a truly memorable time while in Prague.”

“Each area of the hotel is highlighted in a different pastel tone.”

Bold use of colour is the defining element of the design approach. Each area of the hotel is highlighted in a different pastel tone, referencing the colourful architecture of Prague’s inner city. This ranges from light green tones on entry, to pinks in the historic stairwells and a deep blue for the guestrooms. Overlaid on this are elements of local craft, made bespoke for the hotel, and a carefully curated selection of contemporary and classic furniture pieces in similar soft and colourful shades.

Bespoke lighting elements designed by Conran and Partners, and made by Czech manufacturer Sans Souci, feature throughout the public areas and a contemporary chandelier crafted from handmade Czech glass was created for the living room and library spaces. The popular basement spa has been optimised and refreshed throughout using gentle pastel paint colours, bespoke artwork murals by local design company Lavmi and warm ambient lighting to promote relaxation.

“The bespoke headboards reference the local craft of basket weaving.” Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners

“We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional,” says Norden. “Colour features very strongly in the rooms as well, combining a deep blue with softer highlights and warm oak joinery, textured glass, mirror and brass details. The bespoke headboards reference the local craft of basket weaving, while the artwork celebrates the Czech avant-garde movement, including photomontages by Karel Teige. The terrazzo in the bathroom areas is both decorative and functional. Each room has a window bench seat – some looking out onto the church opposite – to offer guests a direct connection with the city and outside. Our aim was to redefine Maximilian with a clear and compelling personality which is grounded in the local context and re-establish it as a prime design destination hotel for the city.”

Image credit: Matthias Aschauer

Artwork plays a key part in the design, based on pieces the owners had already, combined with prints of iconic Teige collages and contemporary works inspired by his playful, surreal and intriguing works. The Teige pieces were sourced through the Czech archives with the new pieces curated with Dais Contemporary in London.

Conran and Partners’ design approach for the rooms has sought to optimise the spaces across various guestroom layouts, which include quirky rooms with curved ceilings within the roof space, and give them a contemporary yet warm and residential feel.

Main image credit: Matthias Aschauer

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection

MGallery by Sofitel Prague property reopens following refurbishment

1021 768 Daniel Fountain

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery By Sofitel has relaunched following an extensive renovation of the property. The 5-star property has undergone a complete transformation, giving the historic interiors a unique ambiance where classic heritage and contemporary design are combined together.

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

The hotel is situated in the heart of Prague, next to the Old Town Square, where the famous medieval astronomical clock is mounted on the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall. The Neo-Baroque building was built in the 19th century by Alfonse Wertmuller, a famous architect in Prague. It was formerly the office of the Workers’ Accident Insurance of Kingdom of Bohemia, where Franz Kafka worked as an insurance clerk from 1908 to 1922. His spirit can still be felt in the hotel, as his bronze bust welcomes guests in the lobby in front of the majestic stairs.

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

The 19th century listed building was transformed into a hotel in 2002, and became part of the MGallery By Sofitel portfolio in 2009. The sculpted Neo-Baroque façade and spectacular stairway, with its columns, marble steps and wrought-iron banister are characteristic features of the building.

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

Renowned French interior designer Ana Moussinet has transformed the hotel, whilst retaining its grandeur and original classical features. The Neo-Baroque interiors have been modernised to complement the rich history of the building. The hotel’s heritage has been integrated into the design with Franz Kafka’s random patterns, reminiscent
of ink lines and splashes. His inspirational quotes are displayed on the hotel’s walls and his presence can be seen in the Kafka Suite, which used to be the writer’s office for many years. It is now an exclusive suite with a contemporary design, inspired by Art Deco and mid-20th century Cubism.

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

The renovation saw 169 rooms transformed into 5* room categories from Classic to Suite; along with new design of the Living Room, Restaurant and Bar. The hotel’s interiors are light and spacious, with marble parquet, glossy black and gold decorative features, deep green velvets and sober lines. Long corridors featuring artistically
geometric carpet patterns are a refreshing and stylish blend of classic and contemporary design. Guests can relax in the luxurious Le Dome Suite, which is a round and cosy cocoon under the dome, surrounded by the thousand spires of Prague.

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

The Bar concept has changed and the space has been rebuilt. The main inspiration for the new Hedgehog bar ambiance and bar services was derived from the legendary Czech conundrum “The Hedgehog in the Cage”, which is often portrayed in comics, movies and TV series. It is a mysterious story of a plan of constructing a flying bicycle hidden inside a steel cone in shape of a hedgehog in a cage. Guests can enjoy The Flying Bicycle – a cocktail served in its cage as a metaphor of the famous Czech puzzle. The seasonal terrace has turned into a Glass Veranda available throughout the year and on level -1, a new fitness room was created.

Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

Hotel Century Old Town Prague is now a breathtaking sight in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. MGallery has 90 existing fascinating addresses in addition to 30 others under development. Each hotel is inspiring, enhance local discovery and shapes memorable moments. With a compelling mix of Heritage, Serenity and Signature hotels, each MGallery is original with its own story to tell. MGallery will expand its collection with new openings including MGallery Leicester Square in London in August 2017; MGallery Dubai in the UAE; MGallery Livorno, Italy and MGallery Istanbul, Turkey.

www.sofitel.com