Refurbishing the Prague Marriott to sit well within the city’s cultural inheritance.

A project which began for London-based twenty2degrees as a refurbishment of the conference and meeting room floor at the Prague Marriott, expanded into a comprehensive re-configuration and redesign of the ground floor public areas and then the design of additional guestrooms in a new extension. The red thread was Marriott’s guidelines but the designers layered their schemes with features specific to the location and the rich artistic heritage of Prague to create a hotel that is both recognisably a Marriott while at the same time also uniquely belonging in this city.

The first-floor conference and meeting spaces, which comprise two large ballrooms, a smaller function room and numerous meeting rooms, correspond with Marriott’s “Meetings Reimagined” guidelines. The areas are clean, contemporary and, above all, multi-functional. The floor is now accessed via a new street entrance and a staircase which take visitors directly to the conference area reception. To one side of this, a large open-plan pre-function area runs like
a spine to the individual spaces. Warm timber, elegant stone and marble-topped tables greet the eye but what is not so immediately apparent is the cleverly thought-through detailing of the furniture which achieves the flexibility of use that operators today require. A central marble-clad counter is designed with integrated shelves and pocket timber extensions that slide out to create a large and functional buffet display unit, elegant high tables offer easily relocated gathering points and fixed timber wall units provide storage and display possibilities to support myriad occasions.

Flooring is bespoke and, together with the artwork, subtly hints at the Czech Cubist references celebrated in other areas of the hotel.

Key to the new ground floor plan was the relocation of the staircase leading to the meeting room floor. Previously, both the restaurant and bar had been hidden from view by this staircase, discouraging their patronage by either guests or passers-by. twenty2 degrees comprehensively replanned the ground floor to achieve a layering of spaces from the arrivals lobby to the lounge, onto the Artisan Restaurant and finally the double-height Artisan Bar which gleams like a jewel at the end of the series of spaces, drawing visitors and guests inwards.

The aesthetic of both the restaurant and bar is inspired by Czech Cubism, in particular the work of Frantisek Kupka, pioneer of Orphic Cubism and the abstract art movement. Positive and negative shapes and finishes are placed side-by-side to create a dynamic energy. Abstracted allusions to Cubist forms appear in screens, carpets, floor tiles and the timber-clad bar front down to some of the smallest details in the furniture. twenty2 degrees found their reference for the back of the bar in a famous Prague column sculpted in the early 20th Century and combined this with antiqued mirror to glamorous effect. twenty2 degrees also worked with emerging Czech artists in the creation of individual artworks.

“The intention of our design was to make the bar and restaurant seem just right in their location – a subconscious rather than conscious response. In fact, the Cubist elements are either so broken down or abstracted that we wouldn’t expect guests to recognise the exact reference. In hotels, it’s about how the design makes you feel, not a history of art course.” Nick Stoupas, Founding Partner, twenty2 degrees.

The aim of the design was also to create interiors in keeping with their culinary offering – simple Czech dishes based on casual dining and made only with fine local ingredients. Since opening, both bar and restaurant have become a thriving social hub for families and friends.

The client’s purchase of a property next door to the Marriott resulted in the final phase of work, the creation of 123 new keys. For twenty2 degrees, this was an opportunity to design rooms that moved on from the existing bedrooms while, nevertheless, carrying through certain elements at the client’s request. The new guestrooms are contemporary and relatively streamlined with warm timber flooring and elegant furnishings. A built-in sofa along the window provides a haven for relaxing and contemplating the life of the city below while, once again, Cubist reference infuses the carpet design and is picked up in the
scatter cushions.

The bathrooms are upscale and modern, bringing together marble, dark timber and terrazzo flooring slabs with a slight touch of industrial design in the fixtures and fittings.

The Prague Marriott has been reimagined for the next generation. For regular Marriott clientele, all the touchpoints are here, from the flowing public spaces to the “Integrated Art” concept, the emphasis on flexible meeting room spaces and the high-quality finishes. It is also a hotel thoughtfully and playfully imbued with local provenance.

Project: Marriott Prague
Location: Prague
Design Studio: twenty2degrees Design Partnership