< CZECH REPUBLIC | PRAGUE: Grand Hotel Bohemia
Located in the centre of Prague, in the very heart of the Old Town, the Grand Hotel Steiner - as it was originally named, opened its doors on February 25th, 1927.
It was built and owned by Mr. Josef Steiner, an experienced hotelier who had gained his experience in England and Switzerland. Equipped with the latest technology, the Hotel soon became
one of the most famous spots in Prague.
Decorated in English Art Deco style, the hotel lobby was luxuriously furnished with marble floors, wooden cassette ceilings and comfortable leather chairs in front of a fireplace. Together with an adjoining French restaurant, it was the place to meet for Prague’s high society in the 1920's and 1930's.
Originally the hotel had 100 rooms and offered accommodation on the highest level of luxury, most of them also equipped with marble bathrooms or at least a toiletry corner with a sink and mirror. Some of the rooms offered a possibility to be connected and create luxury suites with a living room, several bedrooms, private dining room and bathrooms. Each guestroom was equipped with an outside telephone line and a special paging system enabling the guests to call a chambermaid or room service attendant. There were also a winter garden and green terraces on the 6th and 7th floors.
The Boccaccio Ballroom quickly became one of the favorite places for Prague’s high society’s social events. A masterpiece of artificial marble, gold and crystal glass, unique in its glittering details. Afternoon "5 o'clock teas" and evening "Soirées dansantes" were held daily to entertain people like Jan Masaryk, a Minister for Foreign Affairs, or the US ambassador to the Czech Republic and many others. It was said that the whole Masaryk family (including Tomas G. Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia) had reserved the huge box over the bar area and therefore it is called a "Presidential Box" nowadays.
In the afternoon, ladies arrived with their daughters to introduce them to the high society and search for a possible husband. Later in the night, the place turned into the most luxury, men-only nightclub in Prague. Friendships were sealed, business was discussed and politics was made in a company of beautiful girls, sparkling wines and Cuban cigars. A couple of Czech movies remembering these times were made here. Boccaccio was very often, even in times of the communist rule, used as a movie interior. It was so opulent, that it excellently fit the communist image of “a capitalist place of vices and filth”. Just check some of the movies´ names “Devil with an Angel Face” , “Angel Seducing Devil” or ”The Sinful People of Prague”.
After the communist takeover in 1948, Mr. Steiner himself offered the hotel to the Communist Party for representation purposes, asking in return for a possibility to remain in the hotel at least as an employee since all private properties were nationalized and private ownership of business became illegal. Mr. Steiner probably hoped (as many others) that the rule of communists will not last very long and he wanted to keep his eye on the property. Unfortunately, things did not go quite as planned. Mr. Steiner's name disappeared during the 40 years of "the dark times" as well as the beauty and luxury of his hotel. Furnishing and decoration faded away, rooms served to accommodate and monitor not only high communistic officials from foreign countries but also to gather compromising materials about other guests. Wild parties were held in the Boccaccio ballroom and continued in upstairs rooms. Hotel was renamed to Hotel Praha, but it only was a hotel by name. It was never mentioned in any guidebooks, tourist information, not even listed in a telephone directory. Hotel served solely to the Communist Party and its needs.
In the 1970's, hotel became the property of the state, since it had not been beautiful enough anymore to accommodate any officials here. Mostly unofficial guests were staying here then. New Hotel Praha was built in the other part of Prague to take over a position of the Communist Party "official" hotel. In 1989 the Velvet revolution came and saved the hotel from decay. The property was returned to the Steiner family who later sold it to an Austrian hotel company Austria Hotels. Hotel had undergone major reconstructions in only 11 months and was reopened on the 1st of October, 1993 under its new name Grand Hotel Bohemia.
Since January 2013, Grand Hotel Bohemia is owned by Austrian “Gerstner Hospitality Group“.
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