Grand Hotel Bohemia, Prague - History
Period documents from the time when the hotel was built extol the virtues of the most beautiful room in the hotel as follows:
“However the “Boccaccio” marble restaurant hall comes across in a truly fairytale manner, intimate and aristocratic in its Rococo style, with its galleries, boxes and dance floor. What a delightful work of artistic architecture this is with its beautiful stucco and rich decoration of the ceiling presents one with an especially pleasant and unforgettable stay for its visitors thanks to the subdued lighting and discreet melodic music seductively inviting one to dance."
Boccaccio is located in the basement and is linked to the café by a corridor. For visitors not staying at the hotel, there is an entrance leading directly from the street., .....And when the enticing sounds of dance music can be heard coming from Boccaccio in the afternoon and evening, the street in front of the entrance soon fill up with beautiful cars, as the “Five o’clock teas” and “Soireé dansantes” and domestic balls in the Boccaccio hall, soon became the place for regular rendezvous of the whole mondaine Prague society.”
Boccaccio really was a sought-after place among Prague society and not only during the time of the First Republic, but also for several years after World War Two. Jan Masaryk, the Czech foreign minister had a permanently reserved box here on the first floor and the box neighbouring this was reserved for the American ambassador to what was at that time the CSR. The hall fell into ruin during the time when the hotel was used by the communist party. The rich stucco work was destroyed, the gold peeled off, the sparkling mirrors broken. When Austria Hotels gained ownership of the hotel, the hall awaited comprehensive renovation.
The beautiful central chandelier with 4,000 sparkling pieces from hand-cut Czech crystal was very carefully taken down and cleaned, the cassette flooring laid with 9 types of rare exotic woods was carefully renovated and the rich stucco work and decorative sculptures in the hall were restored in detail and gilded again. The broken mirrors were replaced with new ones and at last in October 1993 the hotel shone again like new with the invigorated beauty of the Boccaccio hall.
Nowadays the Boccaccio hall does not function as it did eighty years ago. There is no restaurant here or “Soireé dansantes” or even “Five o’clock teas”. However the hotel does offer lease of the hall for private events – gala evenings, company celebrations, wedding receptions but also lectures, seminars or conferences – it is a unique room, which has no equivalent in Prague. The staff will also gladly show each visitor longing to see this “treasure” hidden below the ground around.