Short Trip: Prague
Kate Morfoot, Explores the Czech capital Prague.
nown as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires,’ is modern, vibrant and historic. In just under a two-hour flight from London, it is the perfect destination for a get-away break. We found walking around Prague easy to explore; it’s both awe inspiring and fascinating as at every turn you see famous architecture, ancient castles, Gothic churches and Soviet structures.
Like many culturally rich cities, it’s perfect for museum and art lovers. Here you can gaze at the spire-topped skylines from the many grand cafes and eateries while enjoying food and drinks served at reasonable prices. Love beer? Then Prague is your city, stein-clinking beer halls a-plenty, Prague is famous for letting its hair down while being very safe.
We checked into the chic Falkensteiner Hotel Prague, a luxury establishment which had a completed refurbishment in May 2022. Located in the Opletalova area, it is a short hop from the Grand Central Station, handy for the airport transfer and just a ten-minute walk to the famous Old Town.
Falkensteiner, an Austrian hotel brand with roots in South Tyrol, has 30 hotel residences under its portfolio across Europe and the108 bedroomed hotel is part of the Falkensteiner Premium Collection. It’s chic, fun and friendly and it has much charm about it. You are welcomed by a jungle style reception with colourful comfortable sofas. You will find the eclectic Monkey Bar and urban terrace outside area. The hotel also has a well-equipped gym, a relaxation area with steam and sauna rooms, an ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle and relax after exploring the sights.
It’s chic, fun and friendly and it has much charm about it. You are welcomed by a jungle style reception with colourful comfortable sofas. You will find the eclectic Monkey Bar and urban terrace outside area. The hotel also has a well-equipped gym, a relaxation area with steam and sauna rooms, an ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle and relax after exploring the sights.
The hotel has various bedroom choices including, double, superior, deluxe or a junior suite. The rooms are individually designed, with deep baths, walk-in showers, high speed internet, a mini bar, a Nespresso machine and a pillow menu.
Our bedroom, located on the third floor was beautifully decorated and very spacious; a grand room with lovely views overlooking the park. Although the hotel is central, it was very quiet, the large windows were sound proof ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep in the large and very comfortable king-sized bed. The large power shower and bath were relaxing and most welcome especially after a long day walking and exploring.
What to do
The concierge team are very helpful, they will ensure you find Prague’s ‘hidden gems.’ They have created an APP where the staff’s favourite ‘local’ and lesser-known places are featured and of course the famous sights need to be experienced. With just three days to explore, we bought a Prague Coolpass which included a helpful App. The Coolpass allowed entry in to all the main attractions, and it is cheaper than paying individually.
Prague gets top scores for old-world charm. The Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square is a highlight, it was installed in 1410 and where hundreds of people gather around to marvel at the world’s oldest astronomical clock. On the hour, you will see the ‘walk of the Twelve Apostles,’ moving Apostle figures and other sculptures, and notably a figure of a golden skeleton that represents death striking the time.
The lantern-lit Charles Bridge arches across the Vltava River spanning 516 metres it is ten metres wide and it is adorned with an avenue of 30 mostly Baroque statues. Among the notable statuaries you can find St. Luthgard, the Holy Crucifix and John of Nepomuk. It’s a fascinating walk over the bridge.
We took a sightseeing cruise on a glass boat with Prague Boats to have an additional viewpoint of the city with its many bridges including the most famous one The two-hour trip included a welcome drink and a three-course buffet lunch with live music, it was well worth the tour while at the same time enjoying a relaxing lunch.
The cultural scene in Prague is lively. Many churches and cathedrals host classical music recitals and sounds of classical music can be heard gently wafting through the streets.
The Municipal House is a stunning Art Nouveau building that regularly hosts classical concerts opera and ballet performances. It is home to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Falkensteiner hotel is Prague State Opera by Wenceslas Square. Recently renovated, the theatre is an incredible setting in which to see opera, or in our case, a ballet. We were seated in one of the plush red ‘royal’ boxes from where we enjoyed watching three sets of contemporary ballet. Tickets cost less than £30 which to see one of the most famous and contemporary ballets in the world from a box, was astounding value.
The Jewish Quarter and alternative art scene add another cultural layer of fascination to this must-see city and the hotel concierge can arrange a three-hour private tour from the hotel.
There’s so much to see and do, from visiting Prague Castle, St George’s Basilica, Lobkowicz Palace and the Golden Lane, visiting the Banksy Museum or just taking time to relax in one of the squares or enjoying a coffee in one of the grand cafes by the Powder Gate Tower.
Shopping is very good; it has many independent boutiques selling handmade goodies such as artwork and pottery. You will also find larger shopping malls and high-end designer stores, including Cartier, Gucci and Prada and with tax-free shopping will save you up to 21% in VAT.
The eating out scene is both trendy and traditional and the food outlets caters for all tastes. It is surprisingly inexpensive compared to most European cities perhaps because the currency is the Czech Koruna. Our hotel stay included a sumptuous breakfast within our room rate.
Amazing choices of a cooked breakfast including eggs benedict, waffles, scrambled eggs with cream cheese and shakshuka with baked egg. I loved the smoothie and juice maker where we made our own healthy juice shots! There were numerous offerings of bread, cheese, hams and pickles, jams and local yoghurts. Breakfast is served at the Monkey Bar proving something to look forward to each morning. It certainly sets you up for a day’s exploring.
We received a recommendation to eat at Marina Ristorante, a converted boat restaurant which served exceptional food and wine with fabulous views of the river and tables overlooking the professional kitchen. The menu offered grilled meat and fish and lots of vegetarian options. We enjoyed grilled seabass with a delicious lentil and ripe tomato salad.
Local beer and the traditional Czech beer houses are interesting to try, we particularly liked the Bernard Pivo from a family brewery. We found that the Czech wine was also excellent.
On our last night, we dined at the hotel, not least to try their famous cocktails and their food. The hotel’s Monkey Bar is fast becoming the go-to venue in the area for drinks, ‘monkey bites’ and events. It serves the best cocktails and has an extensive drinks menu. The exotic urban terrace garden, just off the bar, is another part of the hotel where you can take time out to relax.
The ‘Bursting Monkey’ was one of their signature cocktails. A large bubble is placed on the glass for you to burst revealing an ice cloud and a cocktail made from Monkey 47 gin, bergamot and lemon verbena! There was a delicious menu choice including beef cheek empanadas, black truffle risotto, tuna steak and Argentinian beef steak.
Prague is one of the most stunning cities in the world. It is culturally rich in heritage, architecture and the arts. Its people are warm and welcoming making this a destination I would return to time and time again in search of hidden gems.
Rooms at the Falkensteiner Prague Hotel with breakfast based on two people sharing are from £165 per night.
Address: Opletalova 21, 11000, Prague.
Tel: +43 50 9911 8091
Transfer to hotel via taxi, approx.£30 or take the train from the airport to Grand Central Station which is opposite Falkensteiner Prague Hotel. We would recommend Airport Express to Prague main station. From the airport this takes about 40 minutes, and the hotel is located directly at the main station. Airport Express | Vaclav Havel Airport Prague, Ruzyne (prg.aero)
For background to Prague and things to do:
Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges. To book, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678.
Written by Kate Morfoot www.LoveToEatToTravel.com Follow Kate on Instagram @Love2Eat2Travel