Sleepover: Four Seasons Prague
A night in the Czech Republic
Sunday 07 September 2003
Where is it?
In the Stare Mesto (or old town), on the banks of the Vltava river, next to the Charles Bridge - could you be better positioned?
Describe the setting
Prague's main attraction is its eye-popping array of architecture and the Four Seasons is no exception. Spread across four buildings, whose styles span three centuries, it embraces Baroque, Classical, Renaissance and modern eras. The hotel was hit by the floods of August 2002, but only the floors below ground level were damaged. It closed for repairs, reopening last June, with the addition of a shop and health spa. Inside, a large lobby leads to the reception, a lounge area, dining room and bar. From the carpets to the lighting, its quality with a capital Q. But the predominant beige and cream tones make it feel rather posh-corporate, only saved by the presence of carefully chosen pieces by local artists, including a huge smashed and reassembled Bohemian glass jug. A work of art or downright silly? You be the judge.
Does it have a USP?
The astonishing night-time views across the river to Prague's castle. You might also glimpse a celebrity (although they hide away in the VIP suites), because this is the best hotel in a town beseiged by Hollywood filmmakers - think Amadeus, Mission: Impossible, The Bourne Identity ...
Are you serious? The Canadian Four Seasons group is a formidable empire built on setting the standard for five-star comfort. The custom-made beds are the stuff of legend: how can a bed be firm at the same time as it is soft? Apparently, it's all to do with the springs. And sound sleep is further aided by triple-glazing. The furniture is sourced in Italy, with armchairs, ottomans and writing desks gracing every room. Elegant armoirs hide the latest TV, DVD and hi-fi kit and internet access is also provided. It goes without saying that there's 24-hour room service. To get a sense of the awesome behind-the-scenes operation, I was taken on a guided tour of the bowels of the hotel, where warehouse-sized rooms are given over to cleaning, shining, stitching, pressing, repairing, fixing, lighting, heating, refrigerating and storing. At this hotel, no request is considered too absurd. When one short (rich) client wanted a showerhead lowered, the management didn't hesitate to call in the plumbers and tilers (and sent them back in once the guest had departed).
What's in the bathroom?
Much marble, porcelain and chrome. A deep bath, walk-in shower and separate loo, and lemongrass-scented unguents by L'Occitane (Bulgari in the suites).
After cocktails (or one of the Czech Republic's fêted beers - Budvar, Pivo, take your pick) in the Allegro Bar, lunch or dine in the restaurant of the same name, which serves up gourmet Italian cuisine with those castle views. Dinner costs from €50 (£35) per head including wine.
What are the people like?
Apart from the glitzy guests, it's a mixture of American, British and European business and leisure clients.
The city is easy to explore by foot and it's a pleasure just to wander about and admire the architecture. Highlights include the Staromestske namesti, surely one of the world's most beautiful city squares, and the castle and the Charles Bridge, lined with statues of 30 saints. Take in a performance at the Estates Theatre, where Mozart's opera Don Giovanni premiered. Out of town, visit the Renaissance castle at Nelahozeves, which houses an art collection featuring work by Rubens and Breughel.
What's the damage?
There are 162 rooms and suites. Bed and breakfast starts at €295 (£211) per room per night, based on two sharing in September.
Access for all?
There are Braille facilities and disabled access, with two specially modified rooms. Children are well catered for with toys and colouring books. Pets are allowed in rooms.
Four Seasons Hotel Prague, Veleslavinova 2a, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic (00 800 6488 6488; www.fourseasons.com).
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