Once the hub of the Holy Roman Empire, Prague has rather lost its rightful place among the great medieval European cities, relegated in the popular imagination to stag dos and hen nights.
Those so quick to write it off are missing out on a city rich with history, culture and architecture. Towering, shimmering spires loom over winding cobbled streets, where gothic churches jostle for space with neo-classical townhouses. At the heart of it all, with views over the historic Charles Bridge, lies the Four Seasons Hotel Prague.
Sitting in prime position along the Vltava River spread across three historic buildings, the Four Seasons Hotel Prague oozes old-world glamour, whatever the era. There are modern touches of course, and the hotel is in fact partly based across a modern construct, with some rooms dominated by a more contemporary style. But it’s the historical touches that won our hearts, creating the sense that you’ve stumbled into some mishmash of Prague’s gloried histories; ready to let the modern world pass you by.
With 157 guest rooms spread across the four main buildings, there’s astonishing variety to be found here. We checked into a Renaissance Room, based in (you guessed it) the renaissance building. The room was packed with period touches, the high ceiling dominated by a dangling chandelier, the walls by intricate panelling and Czech-style decorations. King-size beds come as standard, ready to swallow you whole, while plush furnishings complement the duck egg blue colour scheme. The en-suite bathroom is the chief concession to the modern world, backed up by a shower so powerful it could probably double as a fire hose.
Other rooms sit in the hotel’s modern, baroque and neo-classical buildings, each designed to capitalise on their setting, evoking a period without ever losing the undercurrent of prestige and glamour running throughout.
The hotel’s single restaurant, CottoCrudo, does triple duty as its bar and breakfast restaurant too. For lunch and dinner, it serves a menu of contemporary Italian cuisine from chef Leonardo Di Clemente, though its influences are far broader than that description might suggest. Tender, meaty hunks of roasted octopus were softened by a smear of chickpea purée; while veal cheek was served swimming in rich truffle gravy, falling apart at the slightest touch.
There’s a surprisingly strong Japanese influence, for an Italian restaurant in the Czech Republic at least; sea bream carpaccio was seared tataki-style, and umeboshi, shiso and onsen eggs dotted the menu elsewhere. Boasting no clear influence, except perhaps divine inspiration, the night’s winner was a chunk of beautifully pink roasted pigeon, cut through by a tart selection of beet and berries, softened again by an exquisite cinnamon chestnut purée. We wish we’d ordered it for every course.
The diverse wine list offered plenty to choose from, including a welcome and broad selection by-the-glass. It’s perfect for a bit of exploration, though as ever, not without risks – curiosity drove us to sample a local red, too heavy with tannins for the delicate food. Dessert was CottoCrudo’s only disappointment – over-experimentation led to offerings including a cannolo made with a sugar crust rather than pastry, and a ginger bread tiramisu that didn’t live up to its name.
Beyond a well-equipped gym and luxurious spa, the hotel’s offerings are light – but you’re here for the city anyway, right? It’s a few minutes’ walk to the centre of Prague’s Old Town, complete with its iconic medieval Astronomical Clock and more gothic churches than you can shake a stick at. Head in the opposite direction and the statue-lined Charles Bridge takes you to Prague Castle and the breathtaking St. Vitus Cathedral.
Beyond those headliners, the old Jewish Quarter almost miraculously survived the Nazi occupation, and serves as a touching memorial to the city’s fallen in the Holocaust. Moving away from the historical, the city boasts surprisingly affordable theatres and opera houses, a Franz Kafka museum, and a dizzying array of beer halls and absintheries for when the night takes its inevitable turn in that direction.
In a Nutshell
The Four Seasons Hotel Prague is a luxurious spot of glamour, a chance to make the most of a city with almost unparalleled history, capturing Prague’s irregular sense of period. Whatever your era, you’ll find it here.
Rooms cost from £221 per night.
Words by Dominic Preston