Sunday, August 30, 2009
Eloise at the Eastern Bloc Plaza
The Hotel Pyramida looked like a giant cruise ship gone ashore on the side of a hill in Prague 6.
The pyramid-shaped monstrosity also looked like the love child of a bad conference hotel and a casino. This was my home for the month of July.
I felt like Eloise at the Eastern Bloc Plaza: riding up and down the elevators, calling the front desk at all hours with requests, and visiting the hotel restaurant for late-night snacks. Only the elevators were rattley steel-and-mirror death traps. The front desk rarely granted or solved my request. And the hotel restaurant had menu items like “Beef Goulash from the Military Kitchen of Archduke Leopold with bacon-flavored dumplings.”
My room had ugly blue carpet, yellow-painted walls, faux-wood furniture marked with barcodes, a plastic-bound bible translated into four languages, and bedspreads that looked like fabric from a tea cosy.
Still, after my experience in Trieste at the Hotel Filoxenia, I’d set some basic standards for hotels and the Hotel Pyramida met all of these: clean, some view of the city, soap in the bathroom, free wireless, and a good location with easy access to public transport.
Here was the view from my window.
The hotel piped pop music into the lobby and breakfast room, so that while piling my plate with sausages, crepes, and potatoes, I heard:
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Or…one of their favorites, played over and over though it was on the charts over a decade ago:
Suzanne Vega - Luka
With the Kafka café on the first floor—decorated on the wall by a black and white scene of Prague in which Kafka’s effigy was larger than most of the buildings—the hotel seemed to be making fun of itself, but the expressions on the women and men at reception were dead serious.
It might take six people to get one extra towel (reception consulted with the concierge who talked to the manager who called housekeeping who contacted the individual housekeepers who dispatched the task back to reception, who ferried the towel upstairs) or three people for a single Becherovka and tonic (a signature drink), but this was all in the service of a more authentic experience.
As Eloise at the Eastern Bloc Plaza, I was given the non-royal treatment all month long. The staff went out of their way to make me feel like one of the masses, part of the proletariat, a flea on the butt of a stoic black dog riding the 22 tram.
As long as I stayed there, they made sure that I was inconvenienced, uncomfortable, and impatient as much as possible. Welcome to the Hotel Pyramida.