It’s been a little while since my last city break, so when the opportunity arose for Danielle and I to head off to Prague for a couple of days – albeit in the cold, freezing depths of January – as a post birthday treat, my answer was an immediate yes!
With beautiful architecture, a number of amazing museums, galleries and landmarks, it makes for the perfect weekend getaway – and with Crown currently serving a very good conversion rate (£1 to 35 Crowns) it’s great for those on a budget too. So with no further persuasion needed, we caught the earliest flight known to man (saved by my new discovery – neck pillows) and arrived fresh faced in a beautiful, yet extremely windy Prague.
We were to be staying at the Hotel Clement for the duration of our trip, a gorgeous 4 star residence located in the heart of the city just beside the river, who very kindly sent a car to pick us up from the airport. This, although a luxury I’m not normally afforded, was such a welcome and friendly addition, setting our getaway off to a good start and allowing us to relax and unwind, absorbing our incredible new surroundings.
Upon arrival, it was clear from the very beginning that Hotel Clement has adopted a very friendly, ‘home away from home’ type of atmosphere. The staff are extremely welcoming and greet you like an old friend, which is really endearing considering the decor is rather luxurious – yet you can somewhat unwind, relax and put your feet up. The wifi code (an essential part of any city break) is presented to you on a little piece of card upon arrival and although it’s changed each day, you don’t even have to ask again – as it’s given to you once you arrive ‘home’ from a jam packed day of sight-seeing. Similarly, an extensive list of shows, events and attractions are provided to you during your stay which is actually far more helpful than Google when deciphering what to see in such a short amount of time.
Danielle were given a VIP room each, which was a real treat – with views over Prague and a gorgeous balcony. When it comes to city breaks, there is some truth in the mantra that you won’t be spending long in your hotel – so not to splash out, however my personal preference is to really make sure you’re staying somewhere relaxing, since the sheer amount of walking you tend to do calls for a VERY comfortable bed.
After a quick refresh and a sushi lunch – we were met by Eva, our tour guide for the day who we were put in touch with through the hotel. In a brand new city with so much to see and so little time, I do think it’s important to ensure you get your bearings before you go venturing off – so booking a tour guide is something I’d really recommend.
After strolling into the Old Town Square and watching the hourly astronomical clock extravaganza (which I was warned not to get excited for – but I actually found really entertaining), we stopped off for a quick pancake break (unbelievably I ate the entire chocolate crepe pictured above) and headed towards the other side of the city to visit the Dancing House – an incredible piece of architecture based on a male and female couple (Fred and Ginger) who were famed for their choreography. We snapped a couple of pictures (albeit a little wobbly in such strong winds) and decided to venture to the top to capture the stunning surroundings.
Entrance to the Dancing House is 150czk for adults or 100czk for students, which is the equivalent of about £3. Included in the ticket price was a glass of prosecco at the glitzy bar at the top (complete with sequin embellished statues of Fred and Ginger) and a little mosey around the gallery at the bottom – which had some rather questionable items on show (I made the decision not to include them in this post just in case they offend), which gave us a giggle nonetheless.
After taking the tram back to the main square, we said our goodbyes to Eva before venturing off on our own.
In a bid to make sure that we experienced as much of Prague as possible, we booked a show for the evening and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Famed as the ‘best show in Prague’ – although I later questioned how credible this recognition was, The Wow Show promised to be an extravaganza of dance, lights and music. Danielle and I prepared ourselves for a West End spectacular. Unfortunately what followed was a little less West End than we thought but enjoyable nonetheless as we giggled throughout at the oddity of what we were witnessing. Large inflatable balls were bounced into the audience as everyone partook in some sort of pitch black volleyball game, whacking them into (primarily) the back of my neck, while dancers in fluorescent costumes tried to keep in time with each other on stage.
The finale concluded with a lady dressed as a water droplet wiggling on the stage while the sprinklers on the ceiling completely soaked the audience. Just as I thought it couldn’t get anymore strange, dancers draped in massive spider costumes climbed all over the audience (literally ‘over’ – Danielle had one perched on her leg for several minutes) before the curtains whooshed down and those involved took a bow. The clapping that followed was rather minimal as everyone attempted to take in what they’d just witnessed. It was entertaining but bizarre. It’s certainly something that I won’t forget in a hurry but hilarious nonetheless.
Having been up and about for 18 hours straight, we slunk back to the hotel, dragging out feet behind us – catching a little flurry of snowfall on the way. With another long day of sightseeing ahead, we needed as much rest as we could get.
After another early start, we headed down to the ground floor of Hotel Clement for breakfast, expecting another typical rather un-exciting buffet, however we were pleasantly surprised. The usual suspects were on offer – pastries, yoghurts, fruits and cereals but the hot food was entirely made to order, with an extensive mix-and-match menu of items to choose from cooked as you please. I opted for scrambled egg and beans, a rather unadventurous concoction usually however this was made really special with added chives and herbs – an addition I’d never have thought of myself, but really delicious!
First on the day’s itinerary was a river cruise, which we arrived a little too bright and early for and ended up having to scout out a nearby coffee shop for warmth. One of things I love about Prague – and city breaks in general – is quirky little finds whether that’s independent shops, cafes, restaurants or bars, there’s something quite satisfying in finding a treasure trove unlike any other around the world. Our little river cruise find was a tiny cafe tucked away underneath a bridge, hidden away from sight almost completely aside from one lone sign. We climbed the windy staircase to the top room (which had a makeshift canopy and tiny windows) and ordered some hot drinks to combat the cold.
The river cruise itself was a definite must for any city break which allows a water-based tour as it gave us the opportunity to take in (and photograph) the amazing pastel buildings from a completely unique viewpoint. We spotted the gorgeous Prague Castle (which due to time constraints, we weren’t able to visit) and the city’s hospital – which unlike any NHS building I’ve ever seen, absolutely oozed grandeur.
After stepping back onto solid ground, we made our way to the Jewish museum, a collection of synagogue’s all within close proximity of one another, who together form a very extensive museum and gallery. Although you can opt to visit them all, we chose just one – the Spanish Synagogue – which is (in my opinion – and our tour guides recommendation) the prettiest and most spectacular of them all. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside but if you have a quick Google search, you’ll see what I mean! As we stepped out of the synagogue, we ran straight onto a street filled to the brim with high-end stores – and spent the next forty minutes gawping at Burberry window displays, Versace dresses and Dolce & Gabana Winter wear.
A flying visit saw our next stop as the Ice Bar, or Ice Pub as it’s more commonly known – Prague’s take on the famous London attraction, which involves a rather freezing experience. At 150czk each – and a drink included – this was surprisingly a really affordable highlight to the day, with ice sculptures of Prague’s well loved landmarks and a professional photographer, who took over blogging duties while our hands were temporarily unavailable.
We left our half an hour slot a little early, eager to warm up in time for our next endeavour – Wenceslas Square. Packed with shops, museums and cafes – it was by far the most popular hub for tourists that we came across and we were warned to be careful after dark on our own. We spent the next couple of hours browsing, constantly comparing every price tag to what it would be in pounds (I always do this when I’m abroad – not sure why) and exclaiming whether or not it was good value.
It was dusk when we finally realised that we were hungry – and so we decided to head back to a restaurant we’d seen while walking along the river earlier – a rather swanky looking monochrome building hosted on a fixed boat (Marina Grosseto in case you were wondering). With our journey back outlined on the map, we confidently strode off in what we thought was the right direction, eager to tuck into one of the hearty pizzas we’d seen on the menu in passing. However forty five minutes later we found ourselves completely and utterly lost, with no-one around us who spoke English and the rather vague signs leading us in a circle. Eventually, after an hour and a quarter of walking straight, we found ourselves at the mouth of the river, following the straight road to the restaurant. It was quite an understatement to say that we’d worked up an appetite!
We ordered a well deserved glass of prosecco and a carb-filled main course each and relayed the day’s events – flicking through the picture’s we’d taken and discussing our next city break! Unbelievably, a three course meal with prosecco came to £9.90 each in GBP, which was incredible considering the quality of the food! Unable to face the walk back (and terrified we’d get lost again, this time in the dark), we ordered a taxi back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening drinking wine, eating chocolate and chatting!
If you’re looking to visit Prague, I’d definitely recommend booking a long-weekend out of the tourist season (between now and April) as you are able to enjoy far better deals with hotels, flights and transport. Our flights were around £79 each (although we booked through a Wowcher deal), which included a river cruise thrown in. The hotel they’d selected for us was 30 minutes outside of Prague, so we were really lucky to have the offer of a stay at Hotel Clement extended our way. I usually spend around £200 + on city breaks, but due to the great conversion rate, I only exchanged £100 to last me the entirety of the 3 days and I had more than enough with some left over!
* my stay at Hotel Clement was complimentary but I was under no obligation to publish a review or talk positively about my experiences. Complimentary stays have never and will never affect my honest opinion – and if there’s something amiss, you’d be the first to know!
Where to visit: Prague Castle, Dancing House, Ice Bar, Spanish Synagogue, Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square.
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I’m really excited to announce that I have several trips in the pipeline for 2015 so far, working in collaboration with brands – and for leisure. I can’t announce exactly where just yet, but I can promise that they’re super exciting and that I’ll be blogging the whole way! Hopefully you enjoyed this post and would like to come along with me on my next trip – see you soon!