Hotel Jalta: Boutique Hotel with Fallout Shelter Museum
The proprietor of Hotel Jalta did not know until 1997 that the basement of his hotel was a fallout shelter. Jalta is not only a luxury hotel with beautiful guest rooms and a renowned restaurant, but the hotel is also home to the Cold War Museum. The air-raid shelter is relatively large with an infirmary and operating room, a water reservoir, filter chambers to block nuclear radiation and an emergency power generator that is still in operation. Until 1989, when the nuclear threat diminished, the shelter was the domain of the secret police who wiretapped hotel guests from the west from 20 meters underground.
Jalta, Hotel with Fallout Shelter
Hotel Jalta was opened in 1958 when a nuclear war was a real threat. The then president of Czechoslovakia, Antonin Zapotocky, ordered the architect to add a fallout shelter to the building, but this remained a secret. After the Velvet Revolution, the air-raid shelter fell under the responsibility of the civil defense of the city of Prague. It was not until 1997 that the hotel owner was informed and he and his staff could have a look inside. In 2013, the Cold War Museum opened in the fallout shelter and hotel guests and non-hotel guests could visit it. A hotel with fallout shelter is unique in Prague.
Hotel with Fallout Shelter and Cold War Museum
The bomb shelter is located at a depth of 20 meters below the hotel. The shelter consists of three floors, but not all of them are accessible to visitors. The fallout shelter offered protection for about 150 high-ranking communist officials for two months should a nuclear war break out. The walls are made of two-meter thick concrete and steel plates protect against nuclear radiation.
Wiretapping and the Secret Police
Nuclear war never broke out, so the communists set up the shelter as an eavesdropping post. It resembled a large old-fashioned telephone exchange. On the wall there was a map of VIP rooms and regular hotel rooms, marked in different colours. Members of the secret police sat for hours listening to important but also unimportant conversations between the hotel guests. The listening devices were hidden in every room in all kinds of places, such as in the shoe shine brushes, lampshades, picture frames and bedside tables. The Secret Police overheard conversations from both hotel guests and employees. In the 1970s, the embassy of West Germany was located in the same building. They too were bugged.
Hotel Jalta: Prestige Object
Hotel Jalta stands on the site of a residential block that was accidentally bombed by the Allies in 1945. The hotel is a prime example of socialist architecture with characteristic pairs of statues on the facade on the first floor. It was a prestige object and no expense was spared. The opening coincided with the Expo 58 in Brussels where Czechoslovakia impressed with the ‘Brussels style’, which replaced socialist realism. Expo 58 showcased the works of art of prominent designers who had also contributed to the interior design and furnishing of Hotel Jalta. The glass decorations in the hotel were designed by Stanislav Libensky, who also designed the huge glass facade for Nova Scena building next to the National Theater.
Visit the Fallout Shelter
The fallout shelter can only be visited on a guided tour, every day at 1:00 PM, 1:30 PM, 4:00 PM and 4:30 PM. Group size is up to 10 people. Book at least 5 hours before the tour starts at the reception desk or online. The tour will be shortened if you do not arrive on time.
Boutique Hotel Jalta
Of course you can also spend the night in Hotel Jalta. This a 5-star hotel offers comfortable guest rooms elegantly and stylishly furnished. The attractive lobby is lined with brown velvet sofas, has a beautiful marble floor, a round chandelier and an impressive spiral staircase. The rooms overlook Wenceslas Square, but some rooms have a less a grand view. Superior Deluxe rooms, with Wenceslas Square view, are spacious are smartly decorated. They are spacious and include living rooms and a Nespresso coffee machine. All rooms feature a flat-screen TV, a minibar, a safe, coffee and tea making facilities, free Wi-Fi and L’Occitane toiletries. The bathroom is spacious with bath and shower.
Entrance to the museum is free for hotel guests.
How to get there
Hotel Jalta is at a prime location on Wencslas Square in the middle of the Nove Mesto district. Almost all Prague sights and attractions are within walking distance. Wenceslas Square is also ideal for shopping as is na Prikope street and Palladium shopping centre all close by. The national Museum is almost next door. During the Christmas season, one of the Prague Christmas markets is in front of the hotel. If you want to use public transport, Muzeum metro station is less than a five-minute walk.
Address: Hotel Jalta, Wenceslas Square 45, Nove Mesto