JUST A FEW STEPS AWAY FROM PRAGUE CASTLE AND THE CHARLES BRIDGE, AMIDST THE PICTURESQUE, HIGGLEDY PIGGLEDY STREETS OF PRAGUE LESSER TOWN, NESTLES A LUXURY HOTEL WITH FAIRY TALE CHARM, THE ALCHYMIST GRAND HOTEL & SPA.
WORDS BY SAMANTHA SAMPLE, BE NATURALLYOU
My fascination with Prague began when I heard about Chamberlain requesting Hitler to promise not to bomb Prague in World War II. I assumed that it must have been so beautiful – too precious to be destroyed. Ever since I have been daydreaming about visiting such a place with all of its rich bohemian history preserved. Finally the opportunity arose for me to quench my thirst of intrigue with a weekend of exploration and relaxation.
Having such high expectations can sometimes be not-so-good. How can a city, hotel, and all the ancillaries deliver over a decade of anticipation and high hopes for extravagant romance? I’m delighted to share that Prague and more specifically The Alchymist Grand Hotel & Spa exceeded all of my expectations and beyond.
Upon entering the hotel my eyes light up as its like stepping in to another world. A true luxury boutique hotel with fairy tale charm every tiny detail exquisitely reflects the historical character of the 16th century building and city it presides. We are greeted with a warm and sincere welcome by the manager over a glass of champagne. It is such a refreshing joy to receive a level of service that leaves a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, the kind that makes me feel that they really do care about us.
Eager to explore the city, we make a quick visit to the room, before setting off for the day. The room is absolutely divine, having been sensitively restored to provide all the possible modern comforts and yet, at the same time, retaining its historical charm.
What to say about a day’s walk around Prague?! It’s like taking a step back in time. It’s no wonder Prague has been a political, cultural and economic center of Europe for over a thousand years.
Having an inkling that our footsies and limbs might be a little worse for wear after hours and hours of walking we pre-booked a late afternoon indulgence at the Ecsotica Spa within the Alchymst Grand Hotel. But this spa is not only worth visiting for the treatments, the interior and architecture is just as fabulous. The entrance is via a circular Renaissance staircase that leads down to a gothic cellar. A truly unique and tranquil oasis dedicated to wellbeing and restful rejuvenation.
As we only have an hour to spare I choose the Indonesian-inspired Alchymist massage. Must say I was very surprised to see that my therapist was indeed Balinese. This is just one of the many examples of how the owners clearly thought of every little detail and that which ensures The Alchymist shines much brighter. Being a hard one to please when it comes to massage, I am delightedly in heaven. All I can talk about when its finished is how I want to kidnap the masseuse in my luggage and take her back home with me. My boyfriend is equally as impressed with his masseuse too. So as we float upstairs to our room to get ready for dinner, we promise each other that we’ll return to The Alchymist in the not so distant future so that we can indulge in their whole day “From Head to Toes” treatment.
Not wanting to leave our enchanting oasis, we dine at the Aquarius Restaurant within the hotel. With beautiful views of the Fountain Courtyard, the elegant restaurant features an eclectic array of French, Italian and Mediterranean dishes as well as authentic Czech. We hear that the Italian owner of the hotel prides himself on selecting fresh ingredients. On that note, I am instantly drawn to the Italian vegetable minestrone soup and pappardelle with home made tomato sauce and fresh basil. Another pleasant surprise to discover that my “vegan ways” can easily be satisfied without compromise. Although my meal choices might sound simple, I have always found that a restaurant is best measured on how well they do the simple things. And its no wonder that Aquarius Restaurant is considered one of the best restaurants in Prague, having been featured in the Michelin Restaurant Guide as a recommended restaurant four times in succession. The service is exceptional and the food is to die for. But what catches my lover’s attention is the thoughtfully chosen wine list. He assures me that it is outstanding.
Sunday morning we take it easy with a leisurely start to the day and more exploring of the city. Turn after turn we make our way around the streets with fascination upon fascination. One discovery worth sharing to all my fellow vegans is Clear Head restaurant (Borsov 2/280, Prague 1 – Old Town www.lehkahlava.cz). Bookings essential. Empty tummy even more so, as the food is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.
As the time comes to head back to the airport for the short trip home, it’s clear that I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect weekend. Simply breathtaking every step of the way. A true gem hidden away in the tranquil part of Prague, The Alchymist Grand Hotel & Spa is the ideal starting point for exploring the beautiful city of Prague, and The Ecsotica Spa a MUST for reviving yourself after a day on your feet.