Golden age of Grandhotel Pupp began 150 years ago

The five-star Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary is one of the most famous hotels in Europe. In recent years, it has also become a popular backdrop for Hollywood films.

Brothers Anton,  Heinrich and Julius Pupp | Photo from the book ""Příběh Grandhotelu Pupp"" by Stanislav Burachovič/Promenáda

On 20 June 1872, the brothers Anton, Julius, and Heinrich Pupp became the official business partners of Karlovy Vary’s Grandhotel Pupp. Thus, after forty years, the property was finally returned into the Pupp family’s hands, after decades of bad business decisions and family disputes had caused it to fall out of them.

The Pupp Family | Source:  Grandhotel Pupp

The foundations of the family business were laid at the end of the 18th century by confectioner Jan Jiří Pop (who later germanised his name to Johann Georg Pupp) when he bought the Czech Hall, which later became the hotel. However, it was only under the leadership of Anton and his brothers Heinrich and Julius that the hotel achieved the height of its prosperity and fame.

Grandhotel Pupp around 1900 | Photo  from the book "Příběh Grandhotelu Pupp" by Stanislav Burachovič

Kings, emperors, and an astronaut

Café Pupp in 1906 | Photo:  Brück & Sohn Publishing Meissen,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC0 1.0 DEED

Famous guests of the Grandhotel Pupp include the English king Edward VII, Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, and the psychologist Sigmund Freud. The last major modernization and refurbishment of the hotel interior took place before the Second World War, when, among other things, a bathroom with running hot water was built in each room. The then-owners considered their greatest success to be the purchase of one of the last remaining neighbouring buildings not yet in the family ownership, the "House of the Eye of God", something which previous generations of Pupps had attempted without success. The building now houses Café Pupp.

Haile Selassie | Photo:  Doka,  Anefo,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC0 1.0 DEED

After the war the hotel was nationalised and its name was changed to Grandhotel Moscow. Former famous guests such as Empress Maria Theresa and German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck were replaced by other visitors such as Soviet general Ivan Konev, president Ludvík Svoboda, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, and the astronaut Yuri Gagarin.

Grandhotel Pupp returned to its original name in 1990, when the joint-stock company Grandhotel Pupp Karlovy Vary was established.

Grandhotel Pupp | Photo: Roman Boed,  Flickr,  CC BY 2.0

Grandhotel Pupp in film

American comedy Last Holiday | Photo:  Paramount Pictures

Today, the luxury hotel doesn’t only provide accommodation for filmmakers during the annual Karlovy Vary film festival - many directors have also used it in their films. It appeared, for example, in the 1996 romantic drama The Ring starring Nastassja Kinski and Michael York, in the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale with Daniel Craig, and is shown in all its glory in the American comedy Last Holiday with Queen Latifah and Gerard Depardieu. The Ceremonial Hall of the hotel can be seen in the 2007 biographical musical of Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose, and the 2009 action drama TV series The Philanthropist was shot there. It also provided inspiration for the 2014 Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel.