Construction starts on Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Old Town Square after decades of delays

Eight historical buildings are being joined together to create a new hotel on Prague’s Old Town Square

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 18.02.2020 10:00:25 (updated on 18.02.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

After more than two decades of delays, construction has started on a Ritz-Carlton hotel that will have an entrance directly on Prague’s Old Town Square. It should open by 2022, a deadline set by City Hall in May 2018. The city had tried to cancel the project in 2018, but eventually relented.

The hotel project called U Sixtů, after one of the properties involved, will join together eight landmark buildings bordered by Old Town Square and Kamzíková, Celetná and Železná streets. The other buildings, aside from U Sixtů, are U Kamenného ptáka, U Uherské koruny, U Bílého jednorožce, U Bílého koníčka, U Černého slunce, U Kamenného beránka and U Bílého vlka.

According to previously published information, the hotel will offer about 90 rooms. The investor has promised the city that it will include 26 luxury apartments for rent. This is to keep in line with rules for residential housing for the protection of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Buildings being joined to make Hotel U Sixtů. via Club for Old Prague

The project was first proposed in 1995, and has passed through many different hands and redesigns. Since 2004, half of the buildings have been owned by developer Akroterion, and the others are rented by the investor from the city on a long-term lease until 2081.

The Ritz-Carlton chain has an agreement to operate the hotel once it is built. The investor is cooperating with Ritz-Carlton architects on the interior design.

Historical research is continuing, even as construction takes place. Michal Šourek from studio MS architekti, which designed the hotel, said a fragment of a painted ceiling from the 17th century, had recently been discovered.

Construction at U Černého slunce. via Raymond Johnston

Conservationists had objected to the project, but are now working with the developers to protect as much of the historical look and detail as possible. The buildings have had extensive renovations in the past, and determining who they should look, after restoration is complicated.

The finished project will have some public access. A congress center and fitness center will be built on the ground floor and basement of the hotel, There will also be a restaurant, cafe, bar and shops..

Two years ago, the city terminated the contract with the developer due to default, as the original required completion date was in 2017. Finally, the city at the end of May 2018 allowed the project to continue.

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Construction on Kamzíková Street. via Raymond Johnston

The city concluded that since the properties were in such poor condition, it would be best to continue with the existing investor and project, rather than start over from scratch with a new investor. This way, the properties can be renovated in a faster timeline, rather than deteriorating further.

In May 2018, Akroterion, CEO Ogi Jakšič siad he expected construction to start in 2019. This target was missed.

The cost of renovations was previously estimated at up to Kč 2 billion crowns.

Then-Deputy Mayor Petra Kolínská (Greens) in 2018 said she appreciated the new promise from the investor that the public will be able to use previously unavailable internal parts of the houses.

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Construction on Železná Street. via Raymond Johnston

The National Monument Institute (NPÚ) had opposed the project, and there have been several petitions against it. The NPÚ claims there are enough hotels in the area already. They also opposed specific details in how the buildings would be joined. Jakšič said a compromise has been worked out that satisfied the NPÚ.

Akroterion is a subsidiary of the multinational real estate group Golden Star Estate, which owns the five-star Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, as well as properties in London, Frankfurt.

Several other hotels are also under construction in Prague including a Hard Rock Hotel in Letná and Andaz Prague at Senovážné náměstí in Prague’s Old Town. Old Town Square should also soon the addition of copy of a Victory Column that was destroyed on 1918.

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