The Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary

By Tracy A. Burns

prague-karlovy-vary-day-tours-from-pragueExuding elegance and grandeur, the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is one of the most well-reputed hotels in Europe. Famous films have been shot there. Prominent personalities such as Franz Kafka and Russian Czar Peter the Great have enjoyed the luxuries of this building complex set in the popular spa town of western Bohemia. The Grandhotel Pupp hosts the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, too, as prominent artists temporarily call the 228-room hotel home.

The history of the Grandhotel Pupp

The history of the Grandhotel Pupp harkens back to 1701 when mayor Deiml had Saxony Hall constructed on the site. The aristocracy took advantage of the stunning hall. Czech Hall (today’s Mirror Hall and Grandrestaurant Pupp) was the next building situated on the property. This time then-current mayor Andreas Becher had it erected. In 1760 a confectioner named Jan Jiri Pop, who would later change his name to the German version, Johann Georg Pupp, came to the town from Belarus, where he had served as a confectioner for Count Rudolf Chotek. In Karlovy, Vary Pupp worked in his trade with the local confectioner, whose daughter Frantiska purchased one-third of the Czech Hall from Becher’s widow. Pupp wound up marrying Frantiska in 1775. Finally, together they were able to buy the entire Czech Hall. Business thrived in the 19th century, and the Pupps managed to purchase Saxony Hall in 1890. It was an artisan’s triumph in an aristocratic society during the Austro-Hungarian Empire when the Czech lands were subject to Austrian rule.

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The reconstruction

Reconstruction took place between 1890 and 1907 when Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer redesigned the buildings. The result was a stunning, Neo-baroque Grandhotel Pupp, rebuilt as one large complex rather than individual buildings. Fellner and Helmer also designed Karlovy Vary’s theatre, Market Colonnade, Colonnade Park, and Imperial Bath, among others. The duo has an impressive resume of over 200 buildings throughout Europe, most theatres. They were responsible for the look of the Prague State Opera, the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the Mahen Theatre in Brno, which was the first theatre in Europe to use electrical lighting. During 1922 and 1923 the Grandhotel Pupp was modernized. Each room had its own bathroom as well as hot and cold water.

How World War II intervened

Before World War II the Pupp descendants bought the last building on the premises. Today the Café Pupp stands on this site. After the second world war, things took a turn for the worst as the hotel was nationalized and renamed the Hotel Moskva in 1950. It would not be called the Grandhotel Pupp again until 1989 when democracy came to then Czechoslovakia and it was privatized. The famous hotel underwent reconstruction after regaining its original name. Now it looks as it did from 1905 to 1907, according to the designs of the Viennese architectural duo.

The film Last Holiday

While a number of movies have been shot at the hotel, two prominent films were shot there in 2006 – Last Holiday and Casino Royale. In the American comedy Last Holiday, Georgia Byrd (played by Queen Latifah) is working in a department store when she finds out that she has a brain tumor and only has a few weeks to live. She decides to spend her remaining days at the Grandhotel Pupp, checking into the Presidential Suite. She makes use of the spa and wins in the casino. Finally, she is told that the diagnosis is wrong – she is not dying. Queen Latifah was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.

The film Casino RoyaleThe James Bond thriller Casino Royale stars Daniel Craig as the famous M16 agent. In the third adaptation of the 1953 novel, the Grandhotel Pupp serves as the Hotel Splendide in Montenegro. Bond plays in a Texas hold ‘em tournament at the hotel’s Casino Royale and winds up winning but not before his arch-enemy, banker Mads Mikkelsen, tries to poison him. Casino Royale was also shot in Prague, Plana, and Loket in the Czech Republic.

Famous guests throughout the centuries

Thousands of famous personalities have stayed here. Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Richard Wagner are some of the master composers who have lived at this hotel. Russian Czar Peter the Great, Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa, English King Edward VII, Spanish King Juan Carlos, and Karl Marx have been other past guests. Numerous well-known actors have resided here, including Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon, and John Malkovich.

Features of the hotel

The hotel features the Grandrestaurant Pupp with its remarkable Neoclassical architecture as well as the Café Pupp, where Ludwig van Beethoven resided in 1812. The Club Mala Dvorana has a distinctly 19th-century atmosphere while Becher’s Bar has the appearance of a London bar from the 1920s. Becher’s Bar Rendez-vous boasts a bar with a sun-roofed terrace and offers more than 200 cocktails. At the Pupp Royal Spa treatments for metabolism, digestive and motor disorders are available. Festival Hall with its dazzling Neo-baroque décor is just one of the lounges on the premises and is used for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and other events. Weddings and conferences also take place at the hotel.

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