Stay the night: No46, Prague
A handsome flat near central Prague offers a stylish base from which to explore the city's history, says Holly Williams
A short walk from the 12th-century Old Town Square that forms the beating heart of Prague (and you may well have to beat your way through its heaving crowds) is the rather more genteel district of Vinohrady. (The name is Czech for "vineyard".) It's all tall, elegant, Art Nouveau buildings in sugared-almond shades, one of which houses No46 Prague, a spacious first-floor flat within a pistachio-and-lemon-hued building, the most handsome on the street.
It's owned by James and Jo Fennell, an Irish interiors photographer and interior designer respectively. Their keen eye for design shows: No46 could coolly stare out at you from a get-the-look spread in a glossy magazine, with its balanced mix of grand statement furniture, Old Europe shabby chic, and faintly ethnic wooden pieces and rugs. Boldness works in this space, with its high ceilings and exposed floorboards, the opened-up panelled doorways between kitchen and living area increasing the sense of calm roominess.
You're met in the hall by an enormous pair of old ship's bellows (watch out when stumbling about in the night); a pew stands against the wall, while wooden trunks become sideboards and huge carved wood-framed mirrors reflect all that impeccable taste back into the room.
Naturally, many of the Fennells's photographs and coffee table books are artfully dotted about. The couple also provide a "Black Book" with excellent advice about enjoying the flat, the Vinohrady district, and the rest of Prague, which is a handy localised supplement to any guide book.
The colour scheme (and, no doubt, it is a scheme) is subtle – pale walls accented with sage green, matte painted wooden doors and fixtures, plus splashes of regal red, as with the living room's floor-to-ceiling crimson curtains. Chandeliers add a fancy touch, but it's not intimidating: with supremely squashy sofas, a deep tub in the black stone tiled bathroom, and equally sink-into-able beds, this is an apartment you'll be happy to flop back to after a busy day's sightseeing. There's a TV, DVD player, iPod dock, free Wi-Fi, plus scattered books and magazines for nights in. You can also book a masseuse to come to No46. The bathroom is stocked with L'Occitane miniatures and fluffy towels; there's an excellent shower as well as a bath, and a extra loo too.
The only real mis-step is that while the antique kitchen table looks fantastic, the seats are low, leaving you feeling like a small child. And while there's a twin bedroom – in addition to the double – that's suitable for kids, this feels more of an elegant adult base for a city break.
Out and about
A mobile phone is provided free of charge for making reservations and booking taxis. A 20-minute walk, three hops on a metro, or four on a tram, takes you to the centre. Catch the mechanical clock in the Old Town Square marking the hour, stroll over the beautiful 14th-century Charles Bridge, and head up the funicular (bit.ly/petrin funicular) to chill out on Petrin Hill, where there's an observation tower for views of the city. First-time visitors should visit Prague Castle (00 420 224 372 423; hrad.cz/en) – whether you pay to go inside or just mosey round the cathedral and the free outer areas depends on your tourist trail time and inclination.
But while staying at No46, take a morning or afternoon to explore Vinohrady. Potter like a local in the nearby Riegrovy Sady and Havlickovy Sady parks, and enjoy a Gambrinus 10 beer or glass of sekt (sparkling wine) in their respective beer garden or vineyard.
Food and drink
The kitchen at No46 provides all the cooking equipment you could need, and there are local shops a stone's throw away for picking up ingredients. An honesty bar is well-stocked and reasonably priced, from €11.50 to €40 (£10-£31), and charged on departure, but do browse the lists on their website to get in any particular requests when booking.
The Fennells' black book has many recommendations, from nearby hipster veggie restaurant-cum-nightspot Radost Fx Café (00 420 603 193 711; radostfx.cz) to high-end addresses such as La Degustation, for a seven-course tasting menu where Czech cuisine meets molecular gastronomy (00 420 222 311 234; ladegustation.cz). We trotted down the road to sample one of the Fennells' local suggestions and enjoyed pork with potato dumplings and a trio of deep-fried cheeses – washed down with dark beer, at Hlucna Samota (00 420 222 522 839; hlucna-samota.cz).
No46 Prague, Zahrebska 760/46, Prague-Vinohrady, Czech Republic (00 420 733 694 132; no46prague.com). From €160 (£128) for two nights; sleeps up to four. Children welcome.
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