The concept here is "Chinoiserie-meets-art-nouveau," as best as we can tell, meshing the hotel's original 100-year-old structure with Asian script and Buddhas throughout. At peak times the lobby hums with a motley collection of moneyed Europeans chatting with the Czech staff wearing Chinese outfits. Guests get to use a separate entrance for the Buddha Bar, and breakfast is served in the more Continental Siddhartha Café.
In the rooms, the hotel's eccentric theme comes across as black-lacquer cabinetry and silky smooth linens. Beds are large and comfortable, but the decoration might be a bit much for some: gold dragons on red panels above your bed aren't for everyone, and they also don't exactly scream Czech Republic.
Bathrooms go down a similar road, and might be a bit "love it or hate it." We must admit we aren't sure, although the freestanding bathtubs with a mosaic of a dragon on the exterior have to be seen to be believed. On the other hand, the cosmetics and appliances are luxurious, the bathrobes have been specially designed for the hotel, and the mirrors double up as TV screens. Fancy.
Because of the Buddha Bar Hotel's commitment to its Asian theme, with dark woods and rich red walls, the lobby--and indeed, a lot of the hotel--can feel a little dark.
The spa is small but management compensates with in-room treatments. It still manages to offer a jacuzzi, steam room, fireplace and lounge corner. The beauty treatments or "rituals," as the hotel calls them, use La Sultane de Saba products.
Guests have complimentary access to the nearby Fitness Kotva center, with state-of-the art gym equipment. Staff will escort you there.
Siddhartha Café offers tasty, if pricey, Asian fusion food, including a five-course tasting menu with matched wines. The breakfast is extensive, but not always included in the room rate. The restaurant itself is bright, thanks to large windows, and colorfully decked out.
You are smack in the middle of Old Town, so most of Prague's sights are within walking distance. Otherwise, Můstek Metro stop is a 7-minute walk, and there are trams available a little further into Wenceslas Square, too.
Keep up the swanky theme: head across the street to Zdenek's Oyster Bar (1-minute walk) for oysters and champagne. Or get a good deal at inexpensive Indian restaurant, Beas (3-minute walk). Lokal (4-minute walk) provides the best local Czech food.
Caffrey's Irish Bar (5-minute walk) might seem like just another cheesy Irish bar--and that's fair enough, because in some ways it is--but grab yourself a seat outside and you've got a front-row view onto Old Town Square, one of the finest in the world, as well as reliable beer--particularly, obviously, Guinness. On the other end of the scale, exclusive cocktail haunt Bar and Books (3-minute walk) may be literally and metaphorically more up your street if you're staying at the Buddha Bar Hotel.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This hotel is swanky and luxurious, and extremely centrally located. The over-the-top Buddha theme won't work for everyone (we're not convinced), but if you book into a Buddha Bar hotel you should at least know what you are getting into - it is a high-end chain after all, and a popular one. And in the depths of Prague's snowy winter, being transported to humid Asian climes might feel very appealing indeed.