The Hedonist: A hazy night out in Prague
What to see and where to be seen
Friday 17 August 2012
Amid the modern stylings of Prague's 987 Hotel (00 420 255 737 2004; 987hotels.com) at 987 Senovazne Namesti, I guzzle coffee while striving to regain a normal thought process.
My first notion is to glance around this luxurious designer stowaway – situated a few hundred yards from Prague's historic centre – and ponder how many Italians travel here. Then, it hits me. My high-cost, high-bill, nth-generation smartphone is gone. I barely saw the room, so it's definitely not there. I've got almost a full day before my flight back to reality and the dreaded confession to the boss that the scoop on our next deal is in the hands of mobsters. Or that could just be the hangover talking.
Quickly, I retrace my steps. On arrival, I had the compulsory beer and sausage at a stand on Wenceslas Square, but I didn't touch my phone. Slinking around the corner via Stepanska street, I got a few Czech craft beers at expat-classic Jama the Hollow (00 420 224 222 383; jamapub.cz) at 7 Jama. Whether my eyes were wet and clouded by nostalgia for those post-Velvet Revolution days, or the ubiquitous cigarette smoke, I didn't look at my phone there either. I did pick up a like-minded Czech, though, who insisted on taking me to some of the city's best cures for, shall we say, writer's block.
We emerged from the tourist scrum at Old Town Square, an unmissable sight and probably the most complete old town area in Europe. We weren't hungry for the roast meat or trdelnik (sweet pastries) sold at the square's market – a virtual year-round experience despite associations with Christmas – so my partner-in-crime whisked me from the overpriced bars on the square to the Tolkienian literary café Tynska Literarni Kavarna (00 420 224 827 807; knihy tynska.cz) nearby at 6 Tynska. Here, we drank as many fresh Bernards as the waitress could pencil on to our bill and enjoyed the secluded stone courtyard. It's the type of place where even holding a fancy phone would prompt an existential argument ... and so I didn't.
We glided up the hill to Prague Castle on one of the historic trams, then took a cobbled lane to Terasa U Zlate Studne (00 420 257 533 322; terasauzlatestudne.cz) at 166/4 U Zlate studne, a sumptuous dining experience once booked for Barack Obama, although the President did not have time to go. I know I called a cab from there, so that's not where the phone went missing.
We repaired to the Prague Beer Museum Pub (00 420 732 330 912; praguebeermuseum.com) at 46 Dlouha, a boozy hangout delightfully unencumbered by a museum of any kind. It just sells beer from a 41-page menu.
I return here and look under every table before I remember how, after sampling almost every beer on offer, we landed at the Art Deco hangout Café Slavia (00 420 224 218 493; cafeslavia.cz) at 1 Smetanovo nabrezi, where artists and writers have got out of their minds since the 1880s.
There, underneath Viktor Oliva's characteristic painting The Absinthe Drinker, I found my phone. A swift dial later, and I'm on the plane back with a lingering headache and the curious desire to do it all over again.
A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, go to hg2.com
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