Design I 23.06.17 I by

Czech guesthouse by ORA wears its history in plain sight

Studio ORA has revived a run-down townhouse in the hilltop Czech town of Mikulov as a minimalist guesthouse.

Located at the foot of Mikulov Castle in what was once the Jewish Quarter, Štajnhaus takes over a building whose core dates back to the 16th century. Initially tasked with only the interior design, ORA took on the architecture as the building’s historic layers, buried under years of insensitive restorations, began to reveal themselves.

‘We were surprised by what appeared,’ says Jan Hora, co-principal of ORA.

ORA Stanjhaus – a new Czech guesthouse in Mikulov
Photography: BoysPlayNice

Guest rooms are spread over three floors, with a wine cellar and tasting room in the building’s lower two levels (the area is one of the Czech Republic’s most popular wine regions). Rooms feature vaulted, limestone-clad ceilings and a simple material palette of wood and steel.

‘We wanted to make the interior very ascetic,’ says Hora. ‘The building always housed people of modest means. We used affordable materials and rough details. And we wanted the hands of craftsmen to be visible.’

Furniture and fixtures inside Štajnhaus were custom-designed by ORA and made by local craftsmen. These include an oak staircase, tables fashioned from recycled ceiling beams and freestanding beds in wood and steel. ‘They are more abstract frames of furniture, than furniture itself,’ explains Hora.

ORA Stanjhaus – a new Czech guesthouse in Mikulov
Photography: BoysPlayNice

After discovering the building’s original floor ran deeper, ORA removed about a metre of ground in the entranceway to carve out a hallway on a grander scale. Windows, altered during the communist period, were returned to their original sizes including two subtle curving slits in the roof, which frame views to Mikulov Castle from the attic-level White Room.

Guests can stay in one of five rooms, named for their coloured floors, with prices starting from 1,100 CZK per night.

Read next: Prague’s top architectural landmarks

Joann is a Prague-based writer covering architecture, design and travel for The New York Times and Monocle, among others

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