Prague is a special city for me. Why? Because 10 years earlier (almost to the date), I visited this city for a 3 or 4 days for a business conference. What I didn’t know, was there during such conference, I was to meet the man I would marry 4 years later. It is true, promise. Whilst we did not have any romantic memories in the city (not that kind of girl!) – Madrid became our ‘city of romance, a year later’, it was a place we were both very keen to visit again for a luxury weekend. Even if it would take us a long time.
But life got in the way, and we actually never made it to Prague – but always said we would, *one day*. So we did, on a glorious Valentine’s weekend. With a flight a little over 90 minutes, we arrived to the Czech Republic’s capital just before lunchtime on a Friday afternoon. And here is how our lovely weekend in Prague went.
We arrived at the airport and were met by our BlackLane driver (a company I first tried in Istanbul last year and have been booking almost every other time we have travelled since). The service was excellent and within 25 minutes, we arrived to the Four Seasons Prague, which was to be our home away from home during this weekend.
I am a huge fan of Four Seasons Hotels and I have to say, there is nothing in Prague like this hotel – the location was pretty incredible (you can see in the photo above) and I think that during our weekend, we walked everywhere, which was excellent for my FitBit average number of daily steps. One of the most interesting things about this hotel, is the fact that it is made up of 4 different buildings – and each building has its own decor. I had no idea which room we would be assigned – that was half the fun, of course – and were delighted with our King Deluxe Riverview room on the Renaissance Building.
As we got to our room, there was definitely a ‘wow’ moment, when we realised that this… was our view.
Prague Castle on the right, Charles Bridge on the left (you can’t see it on this photo, obviously) and the Vltava River and Malá Strana area. It was absolutely fantastic. It wasn’t a sunny day, but hey, it was February. It did not rain either, so we were pretty pleased!
By this time, it was almost 1pm, and after we explored the hotel a little bit, we decided to stay for lunch and try its restaurant, as we had a pick up at 2pm and to be honest, didn’t really want to go anywhere else. Cottocrudo is open to non hotel residents and its simple lunch menu was just what we needed. Word of warning: book first just in case, as it is one of the power-lunch spots in town.
At 2pm we were ready to go. Where, you ask me? Well, I booked a 1-hour Flytographer session as obviously it would be unthinkable not to. And I have to say, Eliska was a gem, and took some of our best ever photographs.
We started just outside the hotel, and would be pretty fair to say that we could have stayed in the area for hours – because everything was *there*. From the riverside, we made it to Prague’s most touristic attraction – Charles Bridge. And I have to say one thing – go on Friday and be prepared to see a lot of people. And this was off-season – so you can do the math.
We carried on walking, and to be honest, I was just happy to get away from the crowds – and Eliska knew just the place to take us. It is quite funny how sometimes 10 metres in the right direction makes such a difference. On this trip, I was testing Leica’s T-System camera in silver – which was an experience in itself. Over this year, I am testing a few different Leica cameras to see if I could potentially be persuaded to take a decent photo with a real camera.
There was a fair learning curve and Eliska actually helped us out (being a proper photographer and all!) and was very impressed with the camera.
I thought the camera was quite heavy (and we had the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm lens – Chinese to me as I know nothing about lenses or cameras), but the LCD touchscreen and the presets were outstanding. 99% of the photos you will see on this post were taken with the camera and with no editing at all, which I found quite unbelievable. And the wi-fi connection to my phone was incredibly easy and quick. And really worked.
We continued walking and made our way towards Prague Castle, which was obviously a place we were very keen to visit.
Eliska was very chatty (and very nice) and we really enjoyed her company – and we were quite impressed with how much we walked (all optional, for the record. Excellent for my fitbit stats). But the best thing was that we saw the busiest touristic sites on the Friday – believe me, things changed dramatically over the next couple of days.
We slowly made our way back into the Old Town and to the hotel and did something we rarely do – we went for a nap. I am not going to lie, but it was just what we needed. We ordered some nice Earl Grey tea and just relaxed for a couple of hours.
One of the things I always do, is ask those who give me the time of the day on Facebook and Twitter for suggestions on where to go. And at least 10 people told me the same thing: I had to go for cocktails at Hemingway Bar. So just before dinner, we turned up (without booking) and I have to say, we were incredibly lucky as we got the last 2 seats available (which we would have to vacate before 8pm for the next booking). So do not risk it – and pre book!
We loved the atmosphere, but most importantly, we loved the cocktails. They were very unique – and I am not going to spoil it for you. There was one involving bacon, is all I can say.
The following day was Valentines and we were of course clever – we pre-booked our bar seats for the following night (again, just before another reservation). Cocktails were just under £5 each.
For dinner, we asked the Four Seasons team for help – namely as all our first options were fully booked (Valentine’s Day, my darlings, madness) and for the first night we wanted something casual and Czech. The choice was the Olympia Brewery which was just what we wanted. Packed with locals (and a few of us), great atmosphere and the food was very interesting. We were warned about the very generous food portions and skipped the starter, which was the best decision we ever made – as we could barely finish our mains. We had the pork knee and the leg of goose. Dinner for two was under £30, for real.
We walked back to the hotel via the Old Town and to be honest, it was so full of people, we just went back to the hotel and had a drink at the bar, before turning in early. Which was just what we needed. Cocktails: £8.
On Saturday, we had a very light breakfast (very very light) as we were on a serious mission. We were doing a walking food tour with Eating Prague (I loved my first experience with them in Rome, and knew what would be coming).
So we walked around town, which was lovely and quiet, and I even managed to check out some shops before we slowly made our way to the first stop, where we were going to meet our guide Jan. It was in a very residential area, slightly away from the centre, which I thought it was brilliant – as you know they will take you to real places.
What I didn’t expect was to be greeted by Jan and these beauties.
Our tour took 4 hours and we had 6 stops, I seem to recall. And each was as unique as the next one. Our favourite one (if I really had to choose) was the butcher’s, which was SO different. I learned a bit more about the nation’s obsession with meatloaf and tried some wonderful meats.
The aspect I also found interesting was to meet the owners of the places we stopped at – they were all very small-scale places and in most cases, very unique. I loved this Eating Prague tour and highly recommend it – it completely changed my perception of the city and the Czech culture and there is no way I would have tried as many local delicacies as I did. Needless to say, it had negative calories, also aided by walking.
Despite being a bit tired, we decided to walk it off any remaining calories a little bit and did so by heading towards Parizska, where most designer shops were located. Interestingly, I found items much more expensive than in the UK, for example, which was surprising given the cost of everything else in the city we had experienced so far.
We went back to the hotel for a little rest, and to change for dinner. But before that, we went back to Hemingway for a couple cocktails. Because it would be rude not to.
Dinner took place at Kalina, which I have to say, was excellent. Dinner for 2 was under £90. To end our evening, we went back to the hotel, and enjoyed one last cocktail before bed. We thought the bar was really comfortable and we didn’t want to be anywhere else.
Our Sunday was quite short, as we had a lunchtime flight back to London. So we actually slept 11 hours and just about made it to breakfast, which was really quite fantastic. As we had missed out a bit the day before, we decided to make up for it!
We spent the last hours we had before our car arrived just wandering around. Prague was the city that brought Mr. O and I together – and whilst we had no memories together, we made sure we created some new ones this time around.
Sleep: At the Four Seasons Prague, where rooms start from €330 per night (£230).
Eat: the 4-hour Eating Prague costs €75 per person (£53).
Remember: a half hour shoot with Flytographer costs $250 (€232, £165) and a one-hour shoot costs $350 (€325, £230)
Play: on this trip, I used a Leica T-System camera in silver, £1,350.00 RRP with the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm lens, £1250.00 RRP. This camera is available at Leica Store Mayfair and selected Leica stockists. The Leica T Camera System is the world’s first camera with a body made completely of aluminium, and is polished by hand for 45 minutes.