Today I am in Prague and I just had lunch with Christian social entrepreneur and businessman Mathias Schwender, who joined up with New Yorker Chris Syvertsen to open up Prague's newest and most environmentally friendly hotel/hostel called Mosaic House. You may have read about it recently on the New York Times article "Green Hotel and Hostel Opens in Prague" or on TreeHugger, which I know you all read religiously.
Check out that mosaic on the floor – carefully restored to its original 1935 splendour, just like these two mosaics in the pub that represent art and business, side by side.
Interesting connection with Mathias's philosophy of mixing art and business.
So Mosaic House opened 2 weeks ago and there is a lot of buzz around here regarding this 330 bed hotel, filled to capacity today, and thus no room in the inn for our family. We were hoping to come on Sunday and road-test the new hotel for ourselves but are here early. Oopps.
Not to worry. Mathias and his lovely American wife Carrie have other places for us to lay our heads and they have given us a room at Sir Toby's, a hostel that Mathias started ten years ago. Since then, the hostel has become so famous in Prague that if you are single, speak English and don't know about Sir Toby's, you have no right to be in this city in the first place! Sir Toby's is THE hostel to stay at in Prague. Trust me.
Last year Mathais hosted us in another of his abodes – the Czech Inn, billed as "Prague's #1 Designer Hostel", which was a fabulous place to stay and delivers everything it says it does. As with all of Mathias's accommodating spaces, the hospitality is superb and you feel like you are among people that can really assist you to experience the city.
Mosaic House is a "hybrid hotel" that combines the best of both worlds – its a cool upmarket hostel with some fancy hotel rooms above for your not-so-traveled friends or parents who want a soft touch. Or . . . its a four star hotel with uber-hip hostel accommodation below if you want to invite your kids and their friends and impress the whole lot of them. My kids were impressed!
Most impressive for my kids was the grey-water recycling room that was so cool it could have hosted its own DJ.
This is the first grey-water system of its kind in the Czech Republic. The entire hotel is very green – all kinds of devices to keep energy usage low.
Trees are a recurring theme throughout the hotel but luckily our dog didn't take advantage of them. He held on to the very end. Yes, that's my sexy wife. She wrote up her own thoughts on Mosaic House which she really liked.
Mosaic House has a restaurant and pub but not a communal kitchen – a drawback for budding gourmets like myself. But if you want the real hostel experience then go to Sir Toby's. And if you want something beyond both hostel and hotel then Mathias has a boutique hotel for you to consider – Miss Sophies – but that's another story.
So, back to Mosaic House. Its quite a spectacle and Mathias is quite a person – a guy that is kicking butt in the the hotel-hostel business and at the same time maintaining a Christian presence in a city not usually known for its God-believers.
Tomorrow we attend a church that has been meeting at Sir Toby's but, starting next week, will meet at the pub in Mosaic House, under the leadership of Sasa Flek who you might remember from this blog as the "Scribe in Our Basement".
I asked Mathias about having a church meet in his hotel, the large number of Christians working there [but not exclusively] and his own philosophy of ministry. He said he just wants to live out his life as a Christian in his city by running a few good hotels and running them well. Quite simple, really.
What's next for Mathias? Although he has his eyes set on equipping social entrepreneurs in Africa, and perhaps popping up a hostel or two down there, and a Christian retreat center in Prague, I am kinda hoping he will launch an uber-cool camping ground for people with campers and tents. Like us.