Prague Hotels: InterContinental Prague Reviewed
Why We Chose This Hotel
We had a voucher for a free night in any InterContinental Hotel Group hotel, which was burning a metaphorical hole in our digital pocket. It had come as a credit card reward, and the expiry date was fast approaching.
It sounds simple. Get a voucher and use it for a free night. But it's not quite as easy as it sounds. There are some hurdles on the way.
First, choose a brand. It makes sense to go for the top of the range. Why stay in a Holiday Inn Express limited-service hotel, when you can go to a 5-star InterContinental? So the brand chose itself.
Second, choose a location. We wanted to build a vacation around this stay, so other factors needed to fall into place. It needed to be reasonably easy to access by air from the UK and there needed to be other branded hotels nearby, where we could redeem points or find reasonable room rates.
We went down a couple of dead ends when the hotel we chose in Amsterdam wasn't taking bookings and then when we couldn't find other suitable accommodation in Budapest. But eventually, all the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place in Prague.
Our intention was to use our time in the InterContinental as an opportunity for relaxation, making use of the leisure facilities midway through our sightseeing schedule in Prague.
InterContinental Prague is located on the edge of Josefov, the Jewish Quarter. Set back from the River Vltava, one side of the hotel overlooks Namesti Curieovych and Josefov, while the other looks across the river to Letna Park with the bridge, Cechuv Most in the foreground.
The hotel is well-located for visiting the nearby Jewish Quarter and is within easy walking distance of Prague Old Town.
Our initial view of InterContinental hotel Prague was from a boat on the River Vltava during our first full day of sightseeing in the city. Having spent a few hours marveling at the well-preserved historic Old Town, I have to say that the large concrete block from the Communist era was a little disappointing in comparison. Built between 1968 and 1974, the outside of the hotel was renovated between 1992 and 1995.
The hotel is an example of Brutalist architecture, simple block-like structures, often featuring bare building materials. The style was favored especially by European communist countries from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s. With its raw concrete and solid rectangular shape, InterContinental hotel Prague is a product of the era in which it was built.
Upon closer inspection, we noticed a landscaped garden area between the hotel and the road running by the River Vltava. There was also a glass-domed structure attached to this side of the hotel, covering the leisure facilities.
Along one side of the hotel, there is a Rolls Royce showroom, should hotel guests feel the need to add to their fleet of luxury cars whilst staying in the city.
There was a collection of international flags on poles in the square by the hotel, signifying the brand's global presence.
After passing through the automatic revolving doors with brass fittings, we found ourselves in a cream- and beige-colored marble foyer. The area was stylishly and brightly lit with an upside-down-wine-glasses light fitting. We passed a concierge on our way to the reception desk along the back wall.
The lifts round to the right-hand side were keycard operated. The corridors were stylish with wooden framing on the walls matching the doors. Walls were decorated with framed modern art.
The concierge offered us help with our bags. We arrived at 10.30am, which was well ahead of our check-in time, but we were in luck. We had been upgraded to an executive room due to membership status in the IHG rewards program. Our room was overlooking the River Vltava and it was available. Check-in was smooth and efficient. The latest complimentary checkout time we could get was 1.00pm the following day.
Room 478, located on a corner, was of a generous size. An entrance corridor, with the bathroom door on the left, opened into the bedroom. A deep window ran along three-quarters of the wall behind the desk on the right, overlooking the neighboring building. Another window ahead was set in a bay area, with views over a landscaped garden area, raised walkway, cobbled road, and the River Vltava.
There was an unusually large raised section of ceiling in the middle of the room with a shelf around it and a notice asking guests not to hang items from the shelf. The visual image of an InterContinental hotel room with washing on hangers doesn't quite work for me. But I can see that the management was keen to avoid the risk of damage.
Walls were decorated in beige, framed by dark and lighter colored wood. The furnishings echoed the same combination of wood tones. Light and plug switches were surrounded by brass. The door to the bathroom was of solid wood, matching the door to the room and it had a large brass handle.
The carpet was a neutral muted green and beige.
A modern art picture with a black and silver frame was located in the corner of the room between the windows. Two further modern art prints in bronze-colored frames hung on the wall behind the standard lamp. There were a further three bronze framed prints of scenes from Prague on the wall backing onto the bathroom.
Both windows had full-length net curtains as well as beige curtains trimmed with striped edging, which picked up the colors of the beige, brown and deep pink small striped rectangular cushion on the armchair.
The fitted wardrobe opposite the bathroom door had sliding doors and deep hanging space, with a shelf above. There was a tall mirror on the left door of the wardrobe.
To the left of the wardrobe, there was a cupboard containing the minibar and shelving in beige marble and black for refreshments. A cupboard below contained the safe with a disclaimer notice about the security of its use.
A long desk/dressing table stretched along by the window, curving out at the end. The beige effect marble top showed signs of age with the film covering worn in places. There were four shallow drawers with bronze handles. The top was of light wood and the bottom three of the darker wood. The wooden legs of the unit narrowed at their base and were bronze-colored.
The bedside units were of a similar design to the desk area, using the same combination of wood. Each of a good size with a drawer and small cupboard below.
A black padded swivel office chair stood by the desk.
There was a lime green angular square armchair on a medium colored wood base and legs with a matching chunky footrest. The chair was wearing a little on the arms.
A beige, high-sided sofa with brown cushions was set it the bay area. The medium colored wood base matched the frame and lower shelf of the circular glass-topped coffee table in front of it.
The bed was queen size with a dark brown valance sheet matched by two brown cushions on top. The sheet, two single duvets, and four large pillows were all in white cotton.
The backdrop on the wall behind the bed was a continuation of the two shades of wood in the room with a padded insert.
The pillow menu in a silver frame on top of a bedside unit was extensive. There were six choices: standard, special, extra., deluxe, petite and orthopedic. There were spare pillows on a shelf in the top of the wardrobe.
The bed was very comfortable as were the pillows, which we sank into.
Lighting and Electrical Items
The room was brightly lit. The natural light from the two windows was supplemented by three uplighters set around three sides of the ceiling ledge. The rectangular cream lamp on the desk had a bronze colored base. This matched the design of the tall standard lamp in the corner of the room and the bedside lamps. The strip lights in the wardrobe were useful.
There were two bronze framed power sockets by the desk, matching the ones for the bedside lamps. Power sockets were in short supply and in use. A free one at the base of the wood on the corridor near the bathroom was not in a great location. Try charging your phone hear and you could easily step on it en route to the bathroom at night. Previous guests must have commented, as we noticed an adaptor on a bedside lamp to give another power socket. Although to be fair, the hotel was built before we all had multiple devices requiring charging.
The iron and ironing board in the wardrobe were old and basic in design.
An internet socket was housed in a wooden block by the desk. The wi-fi worked well during our stay.
There was a telephone on the desk as well as one by the bed.
A reasonably sized flat screen tv was also on the desktop.
Although the air conditioning system appeared antiquated, it worked surprisingly well.
The minibar was well-stocked. There were also chewing gum, chocolate, water, and chocolate almonds on the shelf nearby. All of these items featured on the price list. There were also glasses and cups in this area.
Tea and coffee making facilities were on a black tray on the desk. We requested milk as there was only powdered creamer.
There was a cream small tray on the coffee table with two apples on it and a jar of dried fruit tipped on its side so that the fruit spilled out. Two 250ml complimentary bottles of water stood by two InterContinental branded tumblers.
A wickerwork box in the wardrobe contained a note about placing shoes outside the door for a complimentary shoeshine. The InterContinental branded umbrella in the wardrobe was free to use during our stay and 10 Euros to purchase as a souvenir. No plastic bags here. The price list for laundry came with a material laundry bag. Additional items in the wardrobe were a shoe bag, a long shoe horn, and a clothes brush.
No executive room is ever complete without slippers and InterContinental Prague provided branded ones.
The useful collapsible suitcase stand was made from a bronze colored frame with dark brown material webbing.
The bedside cupboards each contained something resembling a bathmat, presumably for those who prefer not to step out of bed straight onto carpet.
Thoughts On Our Room
The room was brightly lit from both natural and artificial sources, which further emphasized its generous proportions. Furnishings were good quality, but there were some signs of wear and it was slightly dated in appearance.
The double aspect was a bonus, especially the views towards the river and beyond. The sofa by the window faced the room, but my instinct was to turn around to take in the view of the river, Cechuv Most, Letna Park and the Metronome outside. The downside of the river view was that the cobbled road could be noisy.
At 6.30pm there was a knock on our door. A smartly dressed lady with a white apron, reminiscent of housekeeping staff from a bygone era, appeared to offer to clean our room. It took a while to convey the message that we did not need our room cleaning. Not being accustomed to regularly staying in 5-star hotels, we later realized that this was the turndown service. Language can be a barrier at times. I had earlier noticed that housekeeping trolleys had locked lids, so I am not sure how we would have fared had we requested more supplies for the room.
Overall we were pleased with room 478. Its size, the view and the level of comfort outweighed the signs of aging.
Our side window overlooked the neighboring President Hotel, some uninspiring concrete blocks, and the Church of St. Simon and St. Jude. The top of St. Agnes's Convent could be glimpsed in the distance.
The best view was from the window behind the sofa. Looking down we were able to see the landscaped garden area between the hotel and the raised walkway, which ran along the cobbled road, bordering the river. Across the ever-changing view of the river, we could see Cechuv Most (one of Prague's bridges), Letna Park on the opposite bank and the metronome on the top of the hill opposite. Looking to the left we were able to catch sight of Prague Castle.
There was a toilet with a bidet along one wall, a wide sink area on the adjoining wall and a bath with shower set into an alcove.
The floor was covered with medium-sized square white and grey marble tiles, which matched the tiles on the wall by the shower. A marble shelf ran along above the toilet and bidet. The large white ceiling tiles, with 4 bobble lights plus another over the bath added to the brightness of the room. A white shower curtain hung around the bath from a curved chrome rail.
Fixtures and Fittings
There was a white wall-mounted toilet, with large white controls on the wall. The flush was quite weak. The chrome flaps over the toilet roll holders were irritating, but good paper-saving devices. There was a bidet next to the toilet with a circular chrome towel rail on the wall between them.
A large circular white-framed shaving mirror with halo lighting was on an adjustable pole (like the fixing for a shower head). A shaver socket was located below it and there was a wall-mounted hairdryer nearby.
A chrome-framed opaque glass shelf served as a toiletry holder. The small oval-shaped sink was inset to the left of the large marble base and sides. There was a chrome towel holder nearby. A large mirror ran behind the sink area up to the ceiling.
The bath had a non-slip base. A chrome towel holder was located above it at the end. A shower came off the taps and a further shower was fixed above.
Toiletries and Towels
At first, there was one of each, shower gel, shampoo, and body lotion. But this doubled while we were out of the room. There were two white hand towels and two flannels as well as two bath sheets. A green box contained a sewing kit, makeup pads, cotton buds, and other items. A chrome tissue box holder was inset to the front of the sink unit. A bar of soap was placed on a white soap dish. There were two white bathrobes hanging on the back of the bathroom door.
A black telephone was fixed on the internal wall to the right. There were two tumblers near the sink.
The bathroom facilities were adequate but had a dated feel about them. The toilet dripped and the room was in need of modernization.
Access to leisure facilities was very convenient. A separate carpeted lift in the corner of our corridor took us straight down to the entrance on the lower ground floor, with no need to pass through reception. It meant that we were able to get changed in our room and make good use of the InterContinental bathrobes. Wandering through the public areas dressed in a bathrobe is not really our scene, so the ease of access was a definite bonus.
A long corridor ran along the river side of the hotel. There was a large, well-equipped gym area, changing rooms with saunas in them, and massage rooms. A lobby near the pool had a small bar area. A relaxation area on a mezzanine level overlooked the pool.
The changing rooms did not appear to have altered much over time. White wood-paneled doors opened into an area of green lockers and benches. There were all the usual facilities one would expect such as toilets, showers, and sinks as well as a tumble dryer. A door opened into the sauna area, with access to another toilet, two showers, and a cold plunge pool.
The pool was not large and its kidney shape with a small bridge over a narrow channel to a small island was reminiscent of an outdoor hotel pool in a warmer climate. It was certainly not for the serious lane swimmer, but it was possible to swim a reasonable distance by following a route around the edge.
The pool area was covered by a curved roof of large glass panels in a bronze-colored frame, which allowed a lot of natural light in. Rattan sunbeds were placed around the edge of the area. The circular jacuzzi was not big and slightly disappointing for a 5-star hotel. It would not have looked out of place in a 3-star Holiday Inn in the UK. There were Men's and Ladies' toilets and two showers near the pool.
A spiral open staircase led up to the relaxation area on the mezzanine level. Dark brown rattan sunbeds with cream cushions were interspersed with glass vases containing pebbles and candles. There were also large alabaster jars containing greenery. Gentle music played in the background and magazines were available in Czech, English and Russian languages.
The welcome was efficient, as we signed in at the leisure facilities. Having spent several days sightseeing, I figured that I could pass on the gym for once and we headed for the pool. The area was ideal for a relaxing break, with a leisurely swim in the pool and lounging around in the relaxation area. It would be easy to fall asleep up there. I tried out the sauna in the changing room, but chickened out of the plunge pool experience, choosing the showers instead. We used the leisure facilities on a Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. On both occasions, the area was reasonably quiet with few other guests around. Taking the lift back up to our room, I was able to make use of the more private changing facilities available up there.
Food and Drink Options
The Duke's Bar and Cafe
As my husband was a Spire Elite member of the IHG Rewards Club at the time of our visit, he was given two drinks vouchers at check-in to use in the bar. His status entitled him to a generous choice. So on our first afternoon, we headed down to the Duke's Bar on the ground floor.
The bar was located around the corner from reception, along a back wall. It was fairly small, but the furnishings were of good quality. Round tables were surrounded by curved banquettes with padding, covered in beige material and armchairs with wooden frames. The wood curved bar had glass-fronted wooden drinks shelves and also racks hanging from the ceiling. The area had an art deco feel about it with opaque brass-framed glass on the ceiling.
The Duke's cafe, a coffee shop area was located opposite by the windows, which were covered with drapes, as they faced a corner of the road. The area was furnished with tables, chairs and a cake counter and brightly lit.
Pleasantly surprised to see how many choices we had on the bar menu, we both looked down the cocktail list and chose one of the more expensive strawberry concoctions. There was plenty of it and, although I noticed the bartender pouring in the requisite spirits, neither of us could detect the presence of the alcohol in the drinks. Nevertheless, they tasted very nice and, as we weren't paying, we certainly weren't complaining.
There are two restaurants in the InterContinental Prague. Primator Restaurant overlooks the landscaped area towards the river. Breakfast is served here.
Zlata Praha offers a more upmarket experience, with fine dining and stunning views in this restaurant located on the top floor of the hotel.
Tips for a Great Stay
- Arrive early, in the hope you might be able to access your room a little earlier. If your room is ready it is in the hotel's interest to let you in, as you might be tempted to spend more money in the bar, restaurant or on room service, the longer you are there.
- Request a later checkout. Platinum and Spire Elite members of the IHG (InterContinental Hotel Group) Rewards Club are entitled to complimentary late checkouts when possible.
- Make use of hotel brand loyalty schemes. Most are free to join and offer benefits such as reduced prices for members. There's nothing to lose by joining and, depending on your stay frequency, there can be a lot to gain.
- If you have Platinum or Spire Elite status in the IHG Rewards Club ask at check-in if you have been allocated a complimentary upgrade. If you don't ask sometimes, you might not get one. If they can it is in the hotel's interest to keep their guests happy.
- Research offers that are available with credit cards. Our free night came by way of a credit card spend.
- If you are an IHG Rewards Club member make sure you get any drinks vouchers you are entitled to.
- Don't feel obliged to eat in the hotel. There are cheaper alternatives. We found a restaurant nearby for lunch after we had checked in. We took snacks with us and drinks for our evening meal and lunch the following day. We also took our own breakfast to eat in our room.
- If you encounter any problems during your stay, be sure to say at the time. If you are not happy with the resolution get the general manager's email and pursue it afterward. TripAdvisor is a powerful tool these days. Hotels are keen to avoid negative reviews. IHG hotels will sometimes give back thousands of points if you have a just grievance. I was recently awarded 40,000 points for multiple problems with a stay I booked for family members.
Favorite Hotel Brand
Which hotel group do you prefer?
InterContinental Prague, like most 5 star hotels, boasts a list of famous guests. Here are a few listed on the hotel site:
- 1981 Ray Charles, the American singer.
- 1982 Keke Rosberg, racing car driver and Richard Nixon, former US President.
- 1984 Elton John
- 1990 Tony Curtis
- 1995 Meryl Streep
- 1996 Michael Jackson, whilst on his HIStory tour, Luciano Pavarotti and Hillary Clinton.
- 1998 Phil Collins.
- 1999 George W. Bush and Madelaine Albright.
- 2006 Alain Delon, French actor.
- 2008 Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, former tennis players.
Other Guests of Interest
In addition to the A-listers and celebrities who have stayed in the hotel, there are two guests that InterContinental Prague would probably rather forget.
In the decade after he masterminded the Munich Olympic massacre in 1972, the Palestinian terrorist, Abu Daoud visited Prague eight times. On one occasion it is said that he got so drunk that he could hardly stand. The Czechoslovak secret police viewed their embarrassing guest with growing alarm. Eventually, in 1982, they detained Daoud and ordered him to leave.
A Venezuelan, by the name of Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as the notorious assassin, Carlos the Jackal, made InterContinental Prague his second home between the 1970s and early 1980s. The Czechoslovakian communist regime kept a watchful eye on him. In August 1979 it was noted that Sanchez locked himself out of his room. He got so angry that he was seen running along a corridor yelling and waving a large revolver.
Eventually, the regime came up with a plan to rid themselves of their embarrassing guest. Sanchez was told that French intelligence had sent a hit squad to Prague. The story was a lie, but it had the desired effect. Sanchez left immediately and never returned. He was captured in Sudan in 1994 and is now behind bars in a French jail for multiple murders.
After our stay of over 26 hours in InterContinental Prague, we felt that it had ticked the boxes for us. We were able to relax in comfortable surroundings and recharge our batteries after the rigors of several days of sightseeing. The interior might have been renovated in 2002 and in places it appeared slightly worn and dated, but it still had the feel of a 5-star hotel, hence my rating. Our room was spacious, well-furnished and had a good view. Public areas were well-maintained. The relaxation area in the leisure facilities was well set out and the private lift from the guest floors to the leisure facilities was a nice touch.
If you are ever in Prague why don't you check it out? Even better if you can get it on a rewards night.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2019 Liz Westwood