Maximilian, one of Prague’s most established boutique hotels, has reopened after an extensive refurbishment program lead by international design studio Conran and Partners. The refurbishment covers 71 guest rooms, plus the reconfiguration of existing ground floor areas to create new public spaces including a café/bar, brasserie, library and event space with courtyard garden, alongside a full refurbishment of the bijou existing basement spa.
The Ploberger brothers – who also own the Hotel Josef in Prague – wanted to use the renovation as an opportunity to contrast Josef’s starker, iconic style with the softer, colorful, more playful style of Maximilian.
“Maximilian presented us with interesting challenges,” says Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners. “It consists of two different buildings with different architectural styles, which are connected on the ground floor by a linear series of previously underutilized public areas. Our challenge was to open up and unify these spaces to create a coherent and engaging journey for guests and visitors.”
Previously, only a limited food and beverage offer existed in the front-of-house areas. Conran and Partners have added a café and bar at the main entrance, which animates the building’s façade and engages with the adjacent streetscape, including a small tree-lined paved area directly in front of the church opposite.
In addition, the ground floor spaces were re-worked to include a brasserie within the new living room hub at the heart of the hotel, providing social spaces for guests and visitors. The Plobergers have teamed up with innovative Austrian restauranteur Marco Simonis to create the F+B concepts for the hotel.
Maximilian is situated on Haštalská Street facing the Haštal Church – close to Prague’s Old Town Square – and opened in 1995. The interiors were previously renovated in 2005 to a design by Czech architect Eva Jiřičná.
Conran and Partners’ design approach for the hotel reflects the cultural and architectural heritage of its urban context, referencing Czech modernism and the progressive art movement influenced by famous avant-garde artist and architectural writer, Karel Teige. Teige developed a version of the modernist principle that was based on much softer elements than many of his peers; his poetic modernism embraced elements such as texture and color as well as more playful elements also represented in his many surreal collage works.
Conran and Partners wanted to retain a strong element of Teige’s poetic modernism while creating a sense of place rooted in the city and the neighbourhood. This involved drawing upon the iconic pastel color palette of Prague’s architecture and local crafts – including weaving and glass-making – for the materiality of the design.
“By respecting the heritage of the original building and through an inspiring collaboration with Conran and Partners, we have created a chic, contemporary urban dwelling that brings together the best of Czech tradition, culture and design with brasserie-style food,” says Rudolf Ploberger, co-owner of Maximilian. “The new design will allow us to focus on the needs of our guests to ensure that they experience a truly memorable time while in Prague.”
Bold use of color is the defining element of the design approach. Each area of the hotel is highlighted in a different pastel tone, referencing the colorful architecture of Prague’s inner city. This ranges from light green tones on entry, to pinks in the historic stairwells and a deep blue for the guest rooms. Overlaid on this are elements of local craft, made bespoke for the hotel, and a carefully curated selection of contemporary and classic furniture pieces in similar soft and colorful shades.
Bespoke lighting elements designed by Conran and Partners, and made by Czech manufacturer Sans Souci, feature throughout the public areas and a contemporary chandelier crafted from handmade Czech glass was created for the living room and library spaces. The popular basement spa has been optimized and refreshed throughout using gentle pastel paint colors, bespoke artwork murals by local design company Lavmi and warm ambient lighting to promote relaxation.
Artwork plays a key part in the design, based on pieces the owners had already, combined with prints of iconic Teige collages and contemporary works inspired by his playful, surreal and intriguing works. The Teige pieces were sourced through the Czech archives with the new pieces curated with Dais Contemporary in London.
Conran and Partners’ design approach for the rooms has sought to optimize the spaces across various guest room layouts, which include quirky rooms with curved ceilings within the roof space, and give them a contemporary yet warm and residential feel.
“We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional,” says Norden. “Colour features very strongly in the rooms as well, combining a deep blue with softer highlights and warm oak joinery, textured glass, mirror and brass details. The bespoke headboards reference the local craft of basket weaving, while the artwork celebrates the Czech avant-garde movement, including photomontages by Karel Teige.”
“The terrazzo in the bathroom areas is both decorative and functional,” continues Norden. “Each room has a window bench seat – some looking out onto the church opposite – to offer guests a direct connection with the city and outside. Our aim was to redefine Maximilian with a clear and compelling personality which is grounded in the local context and re-establish it as a prime design destination hotel for the city.”
“The newly-configured Maximilian has the potential to become a favorite destination not only for guests but also for local people,” says Martina Honcikova, Maximilian’s Creative Director. “Conran and Partners have created a design experience that Maximilian is proud to share with the public. The new brasserie is a wonderful addition to the Prague gourmet scene and the reconfigured spaces within the hotel will allow us to host a range of private and public events. The design approach is highly creative – yet practical – and has helped to confirm Maximilian’s position as one of Prague’s leading hotels.”