stay at the grandhotel pupp

A lavish stay at the Grandhotel Pupp

Arguably the Czech Republic’s most iconic hotel, the Grandhotel Pupp is a magical city onto itself in Karlovy Vary’s lush green landscape. It’s been a dream of mine to stay at the hotel and last weekend, I finally got to. My stay at Grandhotel Pupp was so fabulous that I’m already plotting to get back there. Here is what it was like.

The history of the Pupp

The Grandhotel Pupp was founded in 1701 as a ballroom for the nobles of Karlovy Vary called the Saxony Hall, though it would come to double and triple in size around the Tepla River. Johan Georg Pupp (Jan Jiri Pop in Czech) came into ownership of the Saxony Hall in 1775 and later bought the entire property in 1778, turning it into a popular spa promenade. In 1801, the Pupp became the site of Karlovy Vary’s first restaurant.

weekend at the grandhotel pupp

It wasn’t until 1877 that the Pupp family began construction on the Parkhotel, which is the oldest section of the hotel. By 1896, the Grandhotel Pupp as it is known today had its grand opening including both the Riverside and Parkside buildings. In addition to its over 200 rooms in the main building, you can also stay at the Pupp Quisisana Depandance building, which is across the street. This building was built by Pupp for his wife, and in my opinion, houses some of the best rooms at the Pupp.

The Grandhotel Pupp is famous in history for its many high-profile guests, which include historical figures like Peter the Great, Napoleon, Beethoven, Bach, Franz Kafka, and first Czech president Vaclav Havel. In modern times, it’s also become known as one of the premiere accommodations for Hollywood stars who are attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. The roster of former guests includes Hollywood heavyweights like Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Sharon Stone, Helen Mirren, John Malkovitch, and Michale Douglas. It’s also notably the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, and has been prominently featured in several films.

Now that I’ve given you the full backstory of what makes the hotel such a big deal, let me tell you what the stay was like!

Getting to the Grandhotel Pupp

Most people who stay at the Pupp are probably not schlepping it with their dog from the Karlovy Vary train station. In fact, their parking lot is basically a high-end car showroom. But should you visit Karlovy Vary as a mere mortal, you can walk 30-40 minutes through the beautiful town of Karlovy Vary from the train station to get to the hotel. Alternatively, you can drive and park on the property for a daily fee. Although admittedly, you might feel a little awkward parking a rental Kia next to 5 Lamborghinis. But you know what? Don’t sweat it. Your money is good there too.

The rooms

The Pupp is split up into several massive sections that make up its huge imposing edifice. The Riverside is the neo-Baroque part of the hotel that includes most of the hotel’s amenities including the restaurants, dining halls, spa, and the Imperial and Presidential suites, which are among its 111 rooms.

The Parkside of the Pupp is the oldest part of the hotel, though many of its 117 rooms have been modernized to look more like your average contemporary hotel. This is also the most affordable part of the hotel to stay in. But what’s the fun of staying in a hotel that Peter the Great has stayed in if you’re not waking up feeling like Peter the Great?

stay at the grandhotel pupp

The last of the Pupp accommodations are housed in the Pupp Quisisana Depandance, which is across the street from the Pupp and features an elegant combination of Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, and Neo-Baroque styles. The Quisisana faces the main Pupp building which is a sight to behold at any time of day.

The Quisisana Suite

stay at the grandhotel pupp

We stayed in the Quisisana Suite, which is a massive 57m², with two rooms that are separated by a door. Everything from the marble fireplace to the large decadent bed is beautifully ornate. The suite features two chandeliers and two separate balconies in each room, and the kind of crown molding on the ceiling that makes you feel like royalty. Since we were staying to celebrate my birthday, the staff left a small chocolate dessert in the coffee table of the sitting area. Really, the start of an excellent weekend at the Grandhotel Pupp. I’m glad I had been to Karlovy Vary before, because I didn’t want to leave that room for anything. Best of all, the rooms are all dog-friendly!

The facilities

weekend at the grandhotel pupp

There are several different dining options in the hotel, which means that you can pretty much only eat there all weekend and never visit the same place twice. Breakfast is held at the Mala Dvorana, a jaw-dropping space that is adorned by a gigantic crystal chandelier. In addition to your breakfast buffet staples, you can also treat yourself to Prosecco with your meal. The Mala Dvorana is also open for lunch or dinner, and their menu is the one that is available for room service. Note: room service is not available in the Quisisana building.

stay at the grandhotel pupp

Just through the Mala Dvorana is the Grandrestaurant, which is only open for dinner and offers modern Czech cuisine. The restaurant was featured in both Last Holiday and Casino Royale. But if you’re not crazy about spending almost 1000 czk on a steak, you can still see the restaurant at breakfast since it’s adjacent to the Mala Dvorana hall.

If you’re a cocktail drinker, Becher’s Bar is a must-visit. The leather and wood-paneled wall bar offers cozy seating and an expertly crafted cocktail list that includes the Vesper cocktail, which was created at this bar for the Casino Royale film. It’s open Tuesday until Saturday until 2 am. And it is also, somehow, dog-friendly.

grandhotel pupp bar

Café Pupp, which sits at the entrance of the Riverside building has both indoor and outdoor seating and is a great place to grab a quick lunch or one of their incredible confections. Finally, Meat & Bone Steakhouse is the main restaurant of the Quisisana building. Though we did not actually get to visit the restaurant, we did get takeout, which was kindly brought up to our room. And I will be thinking about that wagyu beef burger for a very long time (so will my dog probably).

The Pupp Spa facilities

A room at the Pupp also comes with complimentary access to the wellness and fitness area, which features a gym, an indoor pool, and several steam rooms and saunas. If you live in the Czech Republic and you’re used to sauna culture, you’ll be surprised to find that you’re allowed to wear your bathing suit into the sauna area. If you are visiting the Pupp from abroad, you’ll also be surprised to find that nudity is permitted (just avoid direct eye contact with people’s privates).

Like a lot of the tourists in Karlovy Vary, most of the people visiting the facilities at 10 am were at least 40 years older than me. Though it was nice that for a hotel with over 200 rooms in total, it didn’t feel very crowded. You can access the spa on your own with your hotel key card, which also locks and unlocks the lockers in the changing rooms. Your room will have a robe and slippers that you can wear to the spa, though if you’re staying across the street, you may want to just pack the robe and change at the spa. Full disclosure, I totally walked across the river and into the hotel in a robe, and so did a lot of other people.

The main pool area has nature sounds and skylights that are cleverly lit up to make it appear as if it’s always sunny. You can park your towel on one of the deck chairs and take go for a soak in the pool or one of the smaller whirlpools. You can also leave your things to check out the saunas. To be honest, I’ve visited better saunas in Prague, but it doesn’t suck to have unlimited access to the facilities during your stay.

The service

One of the cool things about staying at the Grandhotel Pupp is the incredible service, which kind of makes you feel as fancy and important as your digs suggest. When you check in, a porter takes your bags to your room and introduces you to everything.

There isn’t even the intense verification of whether you’re a hotel guest when you stroll into breakfast, which was interesting considering we were coming from across the street. They just hand you a glass of Prosecco and tell you take a seat wherever you like (and they can bring your dog a bowl of water, too).

When we asked if we could order take out from Meat & Bone, they were also kind enough to bring our order with plates and silverware up to the room even though they don’t offer room service. The hotel also offers turndown service in the morning and the evening in case you need fresh towels just before dinner. And upon our departure, they gave us a box of Karlovy vary wafers, known as oplatky.

I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels, but our stay at the Grandhotel Pupp is hands down the best experience I’ve ever had.

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