Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Four Seasons, Prague

10 Jan 2013 by Jenny Southan

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The Four Seasons Prague opened in 2001 after ten years of negotiations with the government about the site. As well as a new-build wing, it incorporates three historic buildings – one Neoclassical, one Baroque and one Renaissance – all of which are interconnected.

Not long after opening, the river burst its banks due to heavy rainfall and the property was flooded so it had to close for refurbishment for a year. In more recent times it has again undergone remodelling, on this occasion in stages over a period of three years, with rooms completed last summer (2012). All this means the hotel is in very good shape – everything looks new and well-cared for.

Upon arrival, magnificent displays of colourful orchids make an eye-catching welcome, while porters are quick to help with baggage. It’s quiet, luxurious and elegant, and at the top-end of Prague’s extensive hotel offering, meaning it’s expensive, but you get what you pay for.  

WHERE IS IT? In the heart of Prague’s Old Town on the eastern banks of the Vltava River and a short distance from the Charles Bridge. Vaclav Have International airport is about 25 minutes away by taxi.

ROOM FACILITIES Originally, the décor in all the rooms was the same but now it reflects the architectural style of the buildings they occupy – so Classical rooms are a blend of ochre, cream and white with chandelier-patterned wallpaper and oatmeal carpets, while Baroque are opulent with patterned carpeting, and plenty of red, gold and blue.

Renaissance rooms, on the other hand, feature lavender upholstery, hand-painted ceilings and ornate chandeliers, while those in the Modern category have a minimalist look with striped wallpaper, and either a black and grey or brown and red palette.

I was staying in a Modern Premier River View room, which I was pleased about as was my preference. At 38 sqm it was spacious enough for a work area with an armchair and dark, glass-topped desk, as well as an en suite marble bathroom with a walk-in shower and separate tub. The king-size bed was very comfortable and although there was a huge flatscreen TV opposite, the picture wasn’t perfect on every channel.

Room service is 24 hours and there was a well-stocked but pricey minibar – a 750ml bottle of Vittel water, for example, cost Kc 200/£6.50. In the morning I needed to call down for an iron and ironing board, and these we brought up quickly. Wifi was free and I appreciated the turndown service in the evening, and the weather forecast left on my pillow.

Standard category Modern rooms are smaller but still a good size (33 sqm), and feature many of the same amenities including a separate bath and shower. The views of the university building are not as attractive though.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Located just off the ground-floor lobby, the 142-seat restaurant, Cotto Crudo, reopened in March 2012 after an extensive revamp. The new concept is of a sleek, modern, Italian eatery that manages to be both swanky and relaxed at the same time. Diners have the option of being seated on the outdoor terrace facing the river, or inside at one of the tables in the open-plan space. There is also a series of high tables next to the Crudo bar, where I sat one evening to enjoy a bite with a friend.

The lighting was spot-on, the service charming and attentive, and I liked the “authentic” touches such as the antique slicing machine on the counter. What’s more, the food was glorious – visitors have the option of indulging in delicacies from the seafood and mozzarella bar, or the salami tower, and there is an à la carte menu with plenty of small and large plates too.

We started with a Sparkling Cosmo cocktail (Kc 270/£8.60) made with Belvedere vodka, Berlucchi Rose, Cointreau and lime juice, followed by a couple of glasses of Laurent Perrier Brut champagne (Kc 590/£18.90) with the food. There is a winelist of 360 labels, with 25 wines served by the glass.

My companion chose to begin with three oysters Fine de Claire served on ice in a glass dish (Kc 220/£7), followed by an antipasti of fresh grilled prawns with red pepper and chorizo (Kc 420/£13.40), both of which she savoured. I started with the delicious beetroot, pistachio and smoked ricotta salad (Kc 230/£7.35), followed by a primipiatti of a rich, spicy penne all’arrabbiata (Kc 260/£8.30).

While these dishes weren’t overly expensive, it’s worth noting that there were pricier (larger) options such as the grilled yellow-fin tuna (Kc 650/£20.70), veal lombata (Kc 740/£23.70) and 500g rib-eye steak with truffled potato purée (Kc 2,260/£72.30).

Cotto Crudo is also open for breakfast and lunch, and there is an adjacent café area for coffee meetings. I stopped by in the morning for a quick continental buffet breakfast (Kc 600/£19.20) and was again impressed by the quality and presentation of the food. On Thursday and Friday nights there are DJ sets.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES As well as a 24-hour business centre with two PCs and free internet, there are 11 event spaces for hire including the outdoor Karel Terrace facing the river, which can seat up to 60 diners. The largest venue is the ballroom, which can accommodate up to 200 people standing or be divided into two for smaller-scale functions.

Eliska can seat up to 60 delegates and is well-suited to banquets, while Anna is a plush salon that’s ideal for about 30 people. Vltava can hold up to 130 guests for a reception beneath white vaulted ceilings, and dedicated boardroom, Judita, has a capacity of 14.

Organisers have access to plenty of audio-visual equipment and both wired and wireless internet access. Live music and entertainment can also be arranged, along with sightseeing and cooking masterclasses as part of the hotel’s “spouse programme”.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is a small spa with two treatment rooms and a sauna (but no pool), along with a 24-hour workout space with Technogym equipment (but no natural light). Massages can be booked in advance for between 8am and 8pm.

VERDICT An excellent five-star hotel with a must-try Italian restaurant. Having a choice of significantly different bedroom styles and designs is unusual, but worked well in this case, and the location is hard to beat. As you would expect, Four Seasons delivers with this luxury property.

FACT FILE

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 141 rooms (five categories – Modern, Superior, Deluxe, Renaissance and Premier River from 33 sqm to 38 sqm) and 20 suites (Baroque, Duplex, Renaissance, River, Premier and Presidential from 65 sqm to 200 sqm) across four buildings.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The free wifi, the daily weather forecast left on the bed, the views of the river and the Asprey toiletries. (According to the website, they are now L’Occitane.)

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in a standard Modern room started from €270 in February.

CONTACT Four Seasons Prague, Veleslavinova 2a/1098; tel +42 221 427 000; fourseasons.com/prague

Jenny Southan

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