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London, United Kingdom
July 21, 2007
From journal The Pivo and Puppets of Prague
November 3, 2005
The convent here was occupied by the Statní bezpečnost (StB), the Czechoslovakian secret police during the communist period, and was used for the interrogation and torture of political prisoners while the cellar was converted into cells. Velvet Revolution leader and Czech Republic President Václav Havel himself stayed here for a night while he was a guest of the StB. After the communists were ousted, the church and convent were returned to the Franciscans and re-occupied by the nuns. They in turn let out the basement to the Pension Unitas, which now uses the cells to hold cash-strapped backpackers looking for bargain accommodation.
The accommodation is basic, as perhaps you would expect from a converted secret police cell, each of the small rooms containing a simple bunk bed, steel bookcase, desk, and plastic chair. A small window high up on the wall supplies light and air. The decoration leaves a lot to be desired, living up to its nickname, The Pink Prison, coined during its StB incarnation due to its Communist connections. The rooms certainly have character, and if it is available, you can stay in Room P6, the same room that Havel occupied during his brief stay here.
The facilities are also basic; the reception is open 24 hours and has a competent English-speaking staff that can deal with most inquiries. The communal washing facilities contain a sufficient number of wash basins and showers, with a constant supply of hot water. The breakfast room has the standard snack and drinks machines. There are, however, no cooking or laundry facilities. The location is ideally placed within easy walking distance of Václavské námĕstí (Wencelas Square) and Starmoĕstské námĕstí (Old Town Square), with a Tesco supermarket and the Narodni Trida Metro Station just around the corner.
Alcohol and smoking are banned, as this is still a part of the convent, but if you are looking for cheap accommodation within easy reach of the city centre, this is the place to come. You can book over the Internet at www.unitas.cz, and it is advisable to do this well in advance, as the place quickly fills up.
From journal Prague’s Betlémské Námĕstí: A Hidden Corner of the Old Town
April 4, 2005
From journal Weekend in Prague
Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
January 9, 2004
Each cell contains a set of bunks, a washbasin, a hanging rail for clothes/towels, a bookcase and a table and chairs. There is a small window which is useful because it can get quite warm in the basement. Each corridor has a couple of showers and washrooms and there are toilets every couple of cells along.
As you would expect, these rooms are tiny, but in a city like Prague you're unlikely to spend much time in the hostel! We found that we weren't disturbed much in the early hours but did find it noisy in the morning (around 6:30am) when some people were leaving. We did have to get out of bed and ask people to be quiet.
We stayed here a second night but this time upstairs in a pension room. The room was very spacious but didn't contain much more than the cell room! There was a proper wardrobe, though, and two single beds. It was light, pleasant and airy. There were shower rooms just along the corridor and there seemed to be an adequate number because the place was pretty full and we did not have to wait at all for a shower to become free.
Breakfast was included and was not particularly inspiring. There was muesli (though I am allergic to nuts), a few different kinds of bread, cold meat, cheese and jams. There was weak orange drink, weak coffee and tea.
I would recommend either the prison rooms or the pension rooms to anyone on a budget. The location is good, close to two underground stations and well-placed for the main tourist attractions (only 5 minutes' walk from the Charles Bridge) and there are bars and restaurants nearby, without it being noisy at night.
Accommodation in the Prison part was 1,000 Czech Crowns per night (for two people) and in the pension rooms 1,4000 Czech Crowns, again for two people.
From journal Stags, Spires and Good Spirit
July 29, 2000
From journal Prague - a jewel among cities