Europe’s golden city is the place to marvel at majestic Central-European heritage: wandering by Gothic towers and Renaissance colonnades; pub-crawling immortal bars and microbreweries. If you’ve got the puff, take a hike up through the terraced castle gardens to soaring St Vitus Cathedral and picturesque Golden Lane, where Franz Kafka once lived in a tiny cottage. After all that and more, Prague is also great for pampering hotel spas to soothe your travel-weary limbs. Here are our favourite relaxation-stations in town.
A royal statue adds grandeur to the pampering proceedings at Hotel Kings Court, presiding over the jacuzzi, sauna and infinity pool in the glowing spa. The range of beauty treatments is, well, a treat, including a honey detox, a coconut and cane sugar peel and even a Cleopatra-themed goat milk bath prior to a hot-chocolate massage. If you’d rather eat food than absorb it, try light-filled contemporary spot Adele, for homemade passionfruit lemonade and Med-flavoured dishes.
The only way is up at this stylish hotel – to the rooftop terrace which, like the bookable jacuzzi, has views to ooh! for, across the city’s fabled towers and gables to the castle. Stepping inside, the gym is open all hours and the wellness centre (costing extra) includes a steam room, sauna and Kneipp path, which involves stepping over pebbles in hot and cold water – perfect for achy weekend-break feet. The bedrooms are stylish if snug, with a washed-out, gauzy palette – but four communal lounges mean space to play board games, read a book or get into cocktails.
Welcome to the world’s only spa in a former chapel: Prague’s Mandarin Oriental was once a medieval monastery, hence the ruins of a 14th-century church lit up through glass panels in the lobby floor. On a quiet cobbled lane in the hilly left-bank Malá Strana (lesser town) area, it’s an excellent place to escape the crowds. The 99 individually designed rooms range from street-facing superior to a Presidential Suite in a private tower with a spectacular terrace, and the look is as modern as the walls are ancient: funky flock-fabric chairs, smart framed prints, lean standing lamps. There’s even global street food in the ground-floor bar.
At the peacefully located Alchymist, soft music, candlelight and incense help sweep you down the 16th-century staircase into the ancient cellars and the Ecsotica Spa, decked out in Balinese wood. There’s a chandelier-lit swimming pool and an antique Chinese bed for relaxing after sessions. The hotel’s fairy-tale character is fleshed out with silk-hung four posters in richly furnished bedrooms and the same gold and crimson colour scheme in the Aquarius restaurant. Book a table one evening to indulge in Czech specialities, among them the creamy Svíčková meat stew with herb dumplings and cranberries.
One of Prague’s finest spas is found in this 19th-century Renaissance revival palace with a modern extension. It’s home to a 20m (65ft) heated swimming pool alongside a sauna, steam room and gym. Indigenous ingredients enhance treatments: say, a massage with linden blossom oil (the Czech national tree); and there’s a fine Himalayan salt scrub. Elsewhere the hotel is designed for ease of living: big bedrooms with marble bathrooms and live music in the Ox restaurant.
Less than five minutes’ stroll from photo-perfect Charles Bridge – across the wide Vltava River and a short climb from Prague castle – stands the Augustine. It comprises seven different historic buildings, including a 14th-century monastic brewery. There is now an atmospheric bar in the original vaulted cellar and Augustinian frescoes over the Refectory, where cocktails take inspiration from ceiling archangels. The setting has influenced the spa too: treatments include a St Thomas beer body ritual using crushed organic hops and dark beer to exfoliate.
A neo-gothic castle amid acres of landscaped gardens is the setting for Chateau St Havel, 20 minutes south of the city centre by car, near forested slopes of pine and beech. The decor is uplifting, exuding old-school flamboyance in brocade bedspreads, busy patterns and long silk curtains. Spa-heads can book a private jacuzzi and/or sauna with ice pool, and order in dishes from the restaurant. Executive chef Ondřej Slanina has his own TV show and there’s a cookery school on site, where you can learn to cook flambéed pancakes, or pikeperch with poppy seeds.
Rich colours, chandeliers and spacious bathrooms set the tone for a glamorous stay at the Grand Mark in a fine old building on upmarket Hybernská, almost beside the postcard-famous Powder Tower. There’s a gym and spa with a mini pool and sauna so you can relax after pounding Prague’s cobbled lanes – and when you’re suitably pummelled and relaxed, there’s hearty seasonal dining to relax into in the vaulted restaurant, where you might order venison terrine with mulled wine jelly, or Linzer torte with vanilla cream and orange caviar.
Among low green hills, a few miles southwest of the city centre, the Volcano is a good-looking modern complex with 21 bedrooms bearing pyroclastic names (Etna, Stromboli, Vesuvius…). The decor favours clean lines and monochrome colours, enlivened in deluxe suites by silvery satin, freestanding bathtubs and views across the Prokop Valley. Spa treatments look east – Thai massages from a Thai masseuse – and there’s the serenity of a nature reserve on the doorstep to enjoy afterwards, with woodland paths and a mirror-still lake.
For centuries a hotel has occupied this site, drawing guests that have included Franz Kafka and composer Leoš Janáček. Restored in 2007 to its former art deco glory, it has rooms sporting rich brocades, underfloor heating in the marble bathrooms and, sure enough, art deco-style furniture. Enquire about the highly recommended massages and physiotherapy, and factor in sauna and steam-bath time after you’ve seen the city sights. The grand Café Imperial, with its 1914 mosaic ceiling, is a must, for confit duck with red cabbage or rabbit with garlic sauce.
This riverside classic is a veritable palace, embracing several centuries of Prague’s eclectic architecture in its various buildings. Correspondingly, bedrooms span the styles: perhaps sumptuous rich brocade curtains, canopy beds and crystal chandeliers; maybe more contemporary striped walls and black and white photos. Either way, they’re luxuriously comfortable. Elegance oozes from the Italian restaurant, there’s a glowing bar serving upbeat cocktails and a pool with massage jets. The spa’s the best bit by far, whether you’re smarmed down with pink clay and juniper berries or fully-body-scrubbed with gold extracts and sugar.
For a unique experience, book one of the the best hotels in Prague’s old town, check out our guide on the best places to book your stay in Prague Old Town, or discover one of the best boutique hotels in Prague now on Culture Trip.
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