Cold War History at the Hotel Jalta on Wenceslas Square
On a somewhat cool and breezy day, bright sunshine woke me up and I stepped out on to the balcony of my room at the Hotel Jalta. This four-star hotel is located on Wenceslas Square, the main square of Prague’s New Town district. To my left, at the top of the square, the imposing neo-classical façade of the Czech National Museum dominated the view while a collection of early 20th century buildings are framing this long public space on all other sides.
The facade of the Hotel Jalta
Around 7:30 I headed downstairs to the hotel’s main floor to Como Ristorante, where a large buffet breakfast was awaiting the hotel guests. A generous spread of cheeses, cold cuts, eggs, beans, hash browns, bacon, sausages and mushrooms was waiting, along with various types of fruits, yoghurts and freshly baked multi-grain breads. I was definitely ready to dig in and fill up for a busy day of explorations in Prague.
A colourful breakfast spread
After my scrumptious breakfast I headed to the reception and asked if I would be able to have a tour of the hotel facilities. I always like to learn more about the unique places that I am staying at and the hotel accommodated me. One of the hotel employees took me upstairs and explained that the Hotel Jalta was built in 1958, during the Cold War, a time when the Czech nation was dominated by Soviet control. Hotel Jalta was supposed to be a flagship of the Eastern Bloc hospitality industry. Many Soviet dignitaries and international delegates stayed at the Hotel Jalta during the Communist years.
Breakfast in the Como Ristorante
The hotel itself was designed by Prague architect Antonin Tenzer and was one of the most modern buildings in Prague when it was opened. Many of the original features such as the large corridors and metal wrought stair railings are still completely intact. I had a chance to see a variety of rooms, including one of the 84 Superior Double Rooms and one of the 5 Superior De Luxe Rooms, both of which distinguished themselves by their spaciousness.
Bar area and staircase in the Como Ristorante
The Superior Double Rooms are equipped with a queen-sized bed; an en-suite bathroom with bathtub, shower, hairdyer and a towel warmer; air conditioning; a mini-bar, a safe, satellite flat-screen television, a direct dial telephone and free wireless high-speed Internet access. All the guest rooms have recently been renovated and sport a warm palette of beiges, dark browns, rusty reds and mauves. The entire hotel was completely renovated in 2004 and now exudes the ambience of an upscale boutique hotel.
Luxury at the Hotel Jalta
The Superior De Luxe Rooms have additional features, starting first and foremost with the fabulous view over Wenceslas Square, as well as a king-size bed with a cozy sitting area and a mini-bar. Thoughtful touches include a complimentary umbrella, high quality L’Occitane bath cosmetics, and a welcome drink upon arrival. Bowls with green Granny Smith apples are positioned all over the hotel, and they are not just a delight for the eyes, but also a welcome healthy complimentary snack in between.
Cozy sitting area in the hotel room
The hotel also has five suites that include a bedroom with a plush queen-sized bed as well as a separate living room. The spacious bathroom also features two washbasins in addition to the bathtub and the separate shower. A fitness room is available to hotel guests free of charge; and a business centre, photocopying and printing services look after the needs of the business travelers. Naturally, as a luxury hotel, the Hotel Jalta also offers laundry and dry-cleaning services, luggage storage, safety deposit boxes, foreign currency exchange, parking, 24-hour room service, a concierge, limousine service and convenient on-site massages. Multi-lingual staff members are able to assist guests with their special needs.
Authentic 1950s staircase