Hotel Josef, Prague
Will Ross, December 9, 2022
Straddling the Vltava River in central Czech Republic, Prague serves as a meeting point for West and East Europe. Novelist Franz Kafka called Prague home before the city passed through multiple hands, eventually restored with the collapse of Soviet control. The city has nourished since, with hospitality businesses and greenery filling spaces between historic neighborhoods and robust Soviet sports infrastructure. Here’s a review of a choice hotel and training notes for runners, cyclists and swimmers – now less elusive than Kafka’s castle.
The Old City remains a focal point for Prague, with cultural and business districts reaching out towards newly developed areas. It’s here that the boutique Hotel Josef is located, part of the Design Hotels collection. Architect Eva Jiřičná placed an emphasis on clean, open floorplans with the use of stainless steel and glass frames to create dimension between rooms and common spaces. Furnishings match the best in field – chairs from Kartell, lighting from Flos and Luceplan, and armchairs from Baleri Italia.
Hotel Josef’s 109 bedrooms span six main categories, including options suited to solo travellers and those looking for more of an apartment layout for longer stays. Bath tubs are available for each category, with the exception of the Mini rooms, best suited to soloists. The economic Mini can be booked with or without balcony, and a view of Prague Castle can be requested. Superior rooms cover family business travel with colleagues – they can be twinned or made into triple rooms.
Moving up a tier. The Lounger Sofa includes a seating area with a single sofa bed and a 28m² floorplan. Signature Rooms are 24m² and lean into Jiřičná’s glass and steel style – the bathrooms are transparent boxes (not suited to business travellers). Balcony Rooms are also 24m² but include balconies with double frontage. The Rooftop Lounge is substantially larger – 35m².
Hotel Josef’s gym is impressive – a well designed, dedicated space adjacent to the simple sauna facilities. Equipment includes Olympic barbells, bumper plates, gaining bench, squat stance, dumbbell set, kettle bell set, Bulgarian bags and, pull-up bar, while a treadmill, stationary bike and rowing ergo cover cardio.
The in-house dining area offers a broad, all-inclusive spread for breakfast. Yoghurts, meats, toasts, eggs are offered as part of single pricing. Looking beyond Hotel Josef, One Sip is located around the corner. There is limited seating with indoor space for two people, but their machines setup is excellent. 1.5 miles to the north is Eska, a brilliant warehouse conversion that delivers an inspired menu from breakfast to dinner. Drop by for seasonal, farm-to-table produce and unusual Czech takes on international dishes.
Green spaces have been protected in Prague, opening up arteries for runners setting out from the city centre. Near to Hotel Josef, Letna Park offers elevation for challenging long runs or hill intervals. Cut further West into the near-adjacent gardens that wrap around Petrin Hill. Lanes throughout the park are tarmac so consider a series of shorter, steep hill intervals, or a more languid series of 3-4 minute efforts.
There are three official loops. Prague Castle Loop: This route takes you through the historic center of Prague, past the castle and through several charming neighborhoods. Prague Zoo Loop: This route takes you through the city’s largest park, the Stromovka Park, and past the Prague Zoo. Prague City Walls Trail: This route follows the path of the city’s historic fortifications, offering panoramic views of the city as you ride.
Staying at Hotel Josef also means making the most of morning runs. These are guided and set out on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:30am – just be sure to book in advance, with the deadline being 6pm the night before.
Cycle lanes along Vltava River route via tarmac roads out beyond the city centre into suburbs, with leafy country and challenging hills within 10 miles of Prague’s Old Town. For a 30-mile loop with 500vm of climbing, heading due South – Strava Route. Look into rides hosted by Festka who call Prague home.
Swimmers should head south to Swimming Stadium Podolí where the Soviet facility generously accounts for both indoor and outdoor 50m, the outdoor tub being open during the summer season.
For more information, visit hoteljosef.cz I stayed in Room 415 in September 2022