â Address: TřÃda Kpt.JaroÂe 27, Brno, 602 00 Czech republic â
I was very excited for my stay at Brno's Europa Hotel. The hotel is billed as an 'art hotel' and photographs of the reception area, complete with lip shaped seating in various vibrant hues, are obviously intended to set the scene. Staying as I do usually in faceless budget chains, I was looking forward to something a little different.
The hotel is situated just outside Brno's historic old centre, on the northern side of the inner ring road; it's on Trida Kpt Jarose, a leafy street lined with fantastic buildings and Hotel Europa is in an elegant Art Nouveau style building which has an inner courtyard. It's a good location only a couple of minutes from the Old Town but there are a handful of restaurants/bars on this street if you want to stay close to the hotel. This street provides access only and isn't linked directly to the main road for traffic which keeps noise down. Pedestrians however can access the street from the main road, where there is a tram stop if you are going further than the centre. The hotel has its own secure parking.
We booked in advance through Expedia and paid about Â£44 for one night with breakfast in a standard double (there are also 'superior' rooms though the only difference I can see is that the superior have reproduction furniture). We tend not to book for breakfast, finding it cheaper to get breakfast outside the hotel in most place in central Europe, but this seemed like a good deal and it being chilly in the mornings in Brno, the idea of getting a good breakfast before leaving the hotel was very appealing.
Although the confirmation of our reservation did state the check in time we chanced it an hour early as we've frequently found that we can check in if the room is ready and we had bags we wanted to dump as soon as possible. We waited patiently while the receptionist dealt with a customer during which time she made a point of refusing to even acknowledge us when a quick smile would have done until she could turn her attention to us. When I got to the desk the receptionist gave me a look that said 'What could you possibly want from me?' which immediately thrust me into sarcasm mode. 'You are too early' she snapped. 'In that case might there be somewhere we could leave our bags? That would be very helpful to us.', I simpered. After a sigh she got up to unlock the store room behind her though I could see she really couldn't be bothered. I asked if there were any maps of the city and she gestured vaguely towards some leaflets on a shelf across the room. There was nothing in English so we made do with a leaflet and map in German but felt personally slighted as the literature was available in Slovakian, Russian, French and Italian. As we went out again my cheery 'See you later!' went unanswered.
Returning later in the afternoon the receptionist appeared to have undergone a partial personality graft and was slightly more pleasant though I wouldn't be so generous as to describe her as friendly. Still check in was super swift though no enquiry was made as to whether we had arrived by car and therefore might need a parking place (possibly she assumed that we were not with a car because otherwise we might have left our bags there until checking in).
The rather disappointing about Hotel Europa is that while the arty element can be seen in the public areas, the walls of the rooms are completely bare. The reception area/bar is meant to look ultra modern but looks a bit IKEA in all honesty. There are clear perspex tables and chairs and a few of those velvet upholstered lip shaped chairs that I'd seen pictured on the website; I did sit on one of the latter and found it to be a rather uncomfortable perch and not one I'd want to occupy for more than a minute or two. In the hallway beside the lift there was a colourful installation of primary coloured sailing boats on tall sticks; Himself could not resist the urge to run over and pretend to keep them spinning. There were more pieces on the walls in the corridors on our floor but none really close to the rooms, most of them were tucked away in locations that made me think that whoever had been hanging the pictures didn't really want many people to see them.
Our first floor room overlooked the main street which was not unpleasant due to the lovely autumn colours of the trees. As the street is for access only there was minimal traffic noise and as this is an area with lots of residential buildings it was really quiet by the time most people had come home from work (and it being a Friday evening nobody was getting out the next morning). Although there was no door separating the sleeping area, there was enough of a long corridor effect in the layout to mean the bed was insulated from noise of people in the corridor.
The room looked to be recently refurbished and looked nothing like the one in Ciao's picture, which I presume is how the place looked in its previous incarnation. In place of the golden walls and sky blue bedding are off white walls and white bed linen. The curtains were cream and so inoffensive that they almost offended me. The wood of the furniture was almost the colour of cherry wood, the only thing to add a touch of warmth to the room. Condition wise it couldn't be faulted but it had zero personality.
There was a second Brit snub as the BBC World channel was the only one which had no sound and there was no other English language channel (not even a CNN). I let my brain take the strain and watched German news instead translating for Himself who was lying in bed drinking Czech beer (I really can't take him anywhere). Wi-fi is only available in the public areas but the rooms all have internet access with a data cable and one was kindly provided. The connection wasn't the fastest in the world but it was adequate.
The bathroom was neutrally decorated but this worked much better than the bedroom; it was stylish and modern but still warm with a personal touch. It was immaculate, with regard to both the condition of the fittings and in cleanliness. The shower was easy to control in terms of temperature but it was an over bath shower and there was nowhere on the wall to place the shower head so it had always to be held. The towels were a little on the skimpy side but fresh and soft.
Getting a allergy friendly pillow has been entertaining of late, mainly because I usually forget to contact the hotel in advance of my stay. Fortunately the pillows were allergy free feather pillows so I didn't have to go through that particular tribulation again. It was a cold night but the temperature of the room was fine without having to fiddle with the heating.
Breakfast was served between 7.00 and 10.00 am in the breakfast room in the hotel's basement. The lift goes only to the ground floor unfortunately so I don't kno how that works if you can't manage the flight of stairs down to the room. It was a buffet breakfast with everything laid out at one end of the room, including hot water for teas and coffee and a toaster. I prefer my coffee freshly made and brought to me so I took advantange of the vast selection of fruit and herbal teas instead. There were three types of fruit juice, equal in their blandness.
There was a choice of cereals, muesli, fresh and dried fruit and various yoghurts, fruit and natural. As is usual on the continent there were slices of cheese and cooked meats (some of them way too garlicky for breakfat in my opinion), and hard boiled eggs, fresh tomato and cucumber (a breakfast I find oddly addictive). The highlight for me was the smoked salmon which I teamed up shamelessly with hot sausages. As much as you may not fancy some of the more strongly flavoured foods at breakfast, there was at least plenty of choice (especially if your breakfast usually consists of cake, or you would like it to).
Hotel Europa is a decent enough hotel in a good location. Although it isn't in the old town, the location does have the advantage that it's accessible for drivers and may be a good choice for people coming by car who don't necessarily come to Brno as tourists and therefore don't mind being in the centre (though it is only a short walk).
The art hotel tag isn't really helpful. The hotel does have some nice pieces but they are so strewn across the hotel that unless you were to go trekking around you wouldn't see most of them. Rather than go into the whole philosophy around the art aspect of Hotel Europa I've added a link at the end of this review to explain what it comprises.
For the price you'll not get much better so close to the centre of Brno. It's a big city with lots of hotels so the price is competitive but the quality is good making the price even more pleasing.