Bohemian backpacking with four stars
The atmosphere of a youth hostel with the comfort of a hotel
Posted: July 28, 2010
The word "mosaic" conjures up the image of vibrant blended colors and materials combining different elements to create an interesting whole. The newly opened Mosaic House hotel has stayed true to its name with an interior design that creates a unique medley of green technology and aesthetics, and open spaces that encourage the freer social environment of a backpacker hostel while still offering the comfort of a four-star hotel.
The hotel mixes hostel and hotel rooms, with the ground floor reserved for shared accommodation and a top floor of only private rooms (each with a terrace). The remaining floors are mixed, and co-owner and General Manager Chris Syvertsen says the concept works because there is a market of people who backpacked across Europe 15 to 20 years ago, and now, with a bit more discretionary income, are looking to recreate the experience of their youth, albeit in a more comfortable environment.
"They are looking for a place that offers community, where it is perfectly acceptable and normal to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you at the bar," said Syvertsen. "The majority of the people have read or heard something about the vibe here, and that's what they are seeking."
The open "vibe" hits you as soon as you walk through the automatic sliding glass doors. The ground floor contains a large theater space, which is one of the few elements that remain from the original building, a 1930s structure that was most recently used for offices.
Tel.: 246 008 324
Opened: June 2010
Capacity: 94 rooms: 64 private, 30 shared; beds for 333 people
Facilities: Restaurant, bar, theater
"It was hideous, with walls everywhere. We had no idea there was a theater. It was intimidating and sad," said Syvertsen of his first look at the building. "We took it down to the steel beams and cement floors, but that enabled us to incorporate a lot of green technology in heating and cooling that we wanted to do, and we didn't have to retro fit for it."
The idea was to turn the space into a multifunctional restaurant, bar and music club. They partnered with Beds & Bars to bring in their Belushi's restaurant, and besides serving food and drinks, they also host bands and show movies and sports.
"We are finding guests are choosing to stay here in the evenings rather than go out," Syvertsen said. "We had such a big space, we wanted people to stick around."
The hotel's main color palette is natural: black and slate gray with touches of green. Belushi's continues to flow to the front of the building, offering a quieter dining area filled with light. Huge windows front the space, with whimsical floor lamps stuck to the ceiling and walls. Like all the other furnishings in the hotel, they were custom-made. The counterpart to this space on the other side of the lobby is a lounge area, which they've strived to make as natural as possible. There is again a wall of windows, plus green carpeting to represent grass. This entry area is architect Tereza Koucká's favorite part of the hotel.
"It's like a heart that joins all the functions, and everyone ends up here," she said. "I also like the lounge because it's a quiet, natural place."
Koucká originally thought she would be designing something a bit more old-fashioned to fit the history of the building, but since they had to gut it, she got to experiment.
"We had the chance to add something more and make it ecological and economical," she said.
Between the fourth and fifth floors, there's an excellent reading nook carved out, offering a windowed space to sit, relax and soak up a fabulous Prague view. The hallways are a bit darker, but brightened by illuminated room numbers.
Entering the high-tech rooms, the blinds open automatically to greet you. All the rooms are equipped with plenty of eco-friendly technology, including a smart panel that adjusts lighting and heating based on occupancy. Maroon is the prevailing color, with touches found throughout. Thanks to the shutter system, curtains aren't necessary, and threads of fringe hang from the windows instead. Gorgeous sheer material in the same claret color is artfully draped across the white linens, adding a touch of class.
"The back wall makes the atmosphere. The idea was to bring nature inside," Koucká said.
A narrow tree branch is imaginatively stretched from the side of the wall over the bed, giving the impression one is sleeping under a tree. A real tree branch is also incorporated into every room as a hanging coat hook. The branches have been spray-painted silver and securely hung via steel wire. "It's clever, something you don't see," Syvertsen said.
The impression Mosaic House leaves is one of youthfulness and fun. Every detail is carefully considered, down to the pump that pushes fresh air into the rooms daily. Syvertsen hopes the service and amenities they offer for a budget price will exceed people's expectations.
"We made it simple, but special."
Jacy Meyer can be reached at
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