Widely regarded as one of Europe’s prettiest capitals – and one of the only cities that remained largely undamaged during the Second World War – Prague is like an ornate display cabinet of architectural styles throughout the ages.
From the 14th century Gothic wonder that is Charles Bridge to the graffiti-strewn John Lennon Wall, a symbol of freedom and free speech dating back to the 1980s, it’s a destination always teaming with visitors in search of its cultural sights, charming cafes and great beer.
For a serene hideaway in the heart of the city, and to get away from the crowds, head to Mandarin Oriental Prague, based in the Little Quarter. Carved out of a 14th century monastery, it uses its religious heritage as inspiration for a restrained, pared-back décor. Vaulted ceilings, stone arches and a candle-lit holistic spa, housed in a former Renaissance chapel, are the antithesis of the cobbled streets, verdigris cupolas and Baroque statues outside.
Spread across five buildings, which date back to the Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance eras, the hotel’s 99 rooms quietly showcase the heritage that whisper within its walls (guests can even book on early evening historical walks around some of its treasures). It’s minimalist but interior designer Khuan Chew, from London-based KCA Interiors, has ramped up the luxe factor with silk curtains, down pillows and marble bathrooms.
Departing from the heavy Czech food (think dumplings and schnitzel) largely on offer elsewhere in the city, the hotel’s Spices Restaurant serves an eclectic mix of sophisticated Asian food based around three styles of cooking – Malaysian, Thai and Indian. It’s become a hotspot for those wanting to taste something different so attracts a chi chi crowd. For something extra special private dining and wine tasting is offered in a cave-like cellar underneath the building.
Tucked away on the spa menu is the Linden Embrace – a highlight of a stay here. Incorporating a traditional Bohemian tea ceremony, a body exfoliation with sea salt and yarrow oil and a body massage with warm herbal poultices, it uses products created at the Chateau Mcely, a forest retreat in Bohemia, 23km from Prague.
Book a walking tour around the city with Kirker Holidays. The company only employs local experts so you will get a real insight into the city. For a pitstop, head to the cubist café – Grand Café Orient – which dates back to 1912 – for cherry cake and Viennese coffee.
NEED TO KNOW
Mandarin Oriental, Prague offers three nights for the price of two from £749 per person booked through Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2283, www.kirkerholidays.com). Offer is valid for stays until 31 March 2017 and includes return flights from the UK, private car transfers, b&b accommodation based on two adults sharing a room, a private walking tour with an expert local guide, Kirker Guide Notes to restaurants and sightseeing and the services of the Kirker Concierge. www.mandarinoriental.com/prague
This article was also published in City AM Newspaper on 13 February 2017 and can be read here