PRAGUE — A tall television tower in the Czech capital of Prague that has been called one of the world’s ugliest buildings has a new and unique attraction: A one-room hotel looking out on the city from 230 feet above ground.
But some might argue the best thing about the view is that you don’t have to look at the tower itself. The tower, which stands 709 feet tall, is a dominant but controversial landmark of the city skyline.
Prague is sometimes called the city of 100 spires, but the tower stands out amid the picturesque cityscape of centuries-old churches and other historic sites. It’s the city’s tallest building, at the equivalent of about 70 stories high, and it was a despised symbol of the communist regime that started building it in 1985. Locals have gradually come to accept it since its completion in 1992, but a 2009 international survey placed it second among the ugliest buildings in the world.
The tower already features a restaurant and observation deck offering a breathtaking view of the city, but a recent, thorough renovation of the spire added the hotel room, cementing the tower’s status as an attraction for both locals and tourists
The room is considered so luxurious that it’s being advertised as six stars. It opened in February and is available for about $1,300. Guests also get a limousine and driver, but really, it’s all about the view. One wall facing east consists almost entirely of a giant window, and you can enjoy that view from a spacious bed. There’s also a bathtub in the bathroom behind a glass wall, with a floor higher than the rest of the room, offering another comfortable place from which to look out.
With a view no other hotel room in the city can beat, demand is growing, said Lucie Cerna, sales manager for the project known as the Tower Park Prague.
“I think it will be used for special occasions,” said Cerna. “It won’t be a common hotel. It’s an exclusive space with an exclusive view of Prague.”
Just a few steps down a spiral staircase from the room is the restaurant, which together with a cafe and a bar opened in October.
For a small entry fee, visitors also can look out from the observation deck at the mostly medieval spires that give Prague its charm. In contrast, the TV tower, in the Zizkov neighborhood, has always been controversial.
The tower was built on the site of what was once a 17th-century Jewish cemetery. The project was ridiculed by many Czechs at the time, who called it a “space rocket,” “Bilak’s needle” and “Jakes’ finger,” named for notorious hard-line communist leaders Milous Jakes and Vasil Bilak.
After the 1989 Velvet Revolution that replaced the communist regime with a democracy, some locals demanded the tower’s removal. But protests gradually died out after the level of radiation from transmitters was declared safe.