I wasn’t the least bit prepared for how beautiful Prague would be and no matter how well I describe it here, neither will you.
I arrived on the train from Vienna, (for which you can read the travel guide here), which took around four hours. This is a wonderful way to travel to better get to know a country.
As I crossed the border and entered the Czech Republic the scenery was exactly how I had wanted it to be. Quaint houses were dotted around the countryside in a style quite unfamiliar to my life in London. With larger, archaic buildings nestled in the hills. It was a beautiful distraction while my journey rattled on.
After an unexpectedly cheap taxi ride from the station to my first hotel I walked around the city in the dark in absolute awe.
The thin cobbled roads led to the monumental Old Town Hall, completed in the 14th century. Not only is it beautiful but it’s height of 69.5 metres offers one of the most splendid views in the ‘hundred-spired Prague’.
It was titled as this by 19th century mathematician Bernard Bolzano, while today’s count is estimated by the Prague Information Service to be 500.
On its south side is the astronomical clock, the basic structures of which haven’t changed since the Middle Ages. It is the third oldest in the world and the oldest still working, built in 1410.
Wondering around the twists and turns of the city I found myself at Charles Bridge, another iconic sight seeping with history. Construction started in 1357 under the supervision of King Charles IV. The gothic structure is protected by three towers and adorned with 30 statues. It takes you across the Vltava River to the 9th century castle complex, the largest ancient castle in the world.
As the night closed in I found somewhere for food and drinks before returning to my hotel, excited to get up the next morning and see it all over again.
WHERE TO STAY
For somewhere with revelry and style, The ICON Hotel and Lounge is hard to beat. It is close to the action with a large bustling high street nearby but tucked into a quiet side street.
The hotel is chic, with crisp modern design and splashes of colour mixed together with architecture akin to the city’s golden age and a wellness facility offering Thai massages.
Each room offers incredible hand-made Hästens beds which enabled one of the most comfortable night’s sleep I’ve ever had. Thankfully, the all-day buffet and a la carte breakfast means there is no need to get out of bed before you want to.
Their bar and restaurant bustles with life in the evening as guests and visitors come for a dinner of Spanish tapas and meze Mediterranean dishes and innovative cocktails.
For a quiet stay in a charming and antiquated location I recommend the Casa Marcello Hotel.
It is located a few steps away from the Old Town Square and adjacent to the 1,000 year old St Agnes Monastery of which it was once part of.
Not only has the hotel has been completely restored to its original gothic style of the 13th century, making it one of the most distinctive hotels the city has to offer, it boasts a unique wine therapy spa.
The rooms are homely but not small, with suites as large as apartments available. The walls are adorned with artwork and sculptures sit on the antiqued wooden furniture, this can even be found within the luxurious bathrooms where you may be lucky enough to find a large and deep bath to relax in after a day of exploring.
The Hotel Restaurant Agnes offers a little relief from the bustling restaurants around the city with traditional Czech cuisine to add to the authentic experience it gives visitors.
WHAT TO DO
Other than the wonderful bar and restaurant offerings at Casa Marcello Hotel and The Icon Hotel and Lounge, the Brewery and Restaurant U Fleků is an unmissable venue.
The hallway tavern is filled with long tables where you needn’t move from as a staff member walks around with huge trays filled with fresh home-brewed beers and another with an assortment of shots distilled on site.
The first record of the brewery dates back to 1499 when the house was bought by maltster Vít Skřemenec, making it the only brewery in Central Europe which has been brewing continuously for over 500 years.
The brewery was nationalised with the onset of the communist rule. The original owners, the Brtník family, regained the brewery and restaurant in 1991, after the fall of the regime.
Outside of eating and drinking, all you need to do is walk around and explore. This is true of any city, of course, but Prague the fantastical gothic buildings and cobbled streets take you on a journey back in time as you travel around the city.
As noted above, the city’s attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock.
There is also the Jewish Quarter, which dates back the 13th century when Jewish people were forced to vacate their disparate homes and settle in one area. Between 1893 and 1913 beautiful buildings in what was known as the Prague Jewish Ghetto were destroyed but many still stand. You will find six synagogues, the Jewish Ceremonial Hall, and the remarkable Old Jewish Cemetery.
These were preserved throughout the Nazi occupation, which Adolf Hitler reportedly ordering its safety to preserve the area as a “Museum of an Extinct Race”. Many of the buildings now make up the Jewish Museum in Prague which visitors must gain entry to view.
To see all of Prague and the glorious buildings it contains the Petřín hill rises 130 metres high and is home to a tower built to resemble the Eiffel Tower. You can go to the top of the 63.5 metre structure to muse over the monuments inside the archaic city.
OFFER: From £127.50 per person based on one nights’ accommodation at the 4* Casa Marcello Hotel Prague and return flights from Gatwick Airport. Valid for arrival on May 2 2017. For more information and to book, visit www.superbreak.com or call 0800 042 0288.