The number four seems to pop up quite a lot at Four Seasons Hotel Prague, not just because of the brand name, which has become synonymous with luxury in the past 60 years. The hotel is set around four uniquely designed buildings, there are no less than four bars and restaurants on the premises (in season), and according to the fact sheet we received, four golf courses are within an hour’s drive.
But let’s ignore for a moment the symbolic importance of the number four, usually associated with stability, reliability, and a sense of security. We’ll get back to that in good time, but for now, why don’t we concentrate on the most important thing?
Location, location, location
Four Seasons Hotel Prague takes pride in its unbeatable location, right on the banks of the Vltava River. It literally sits just steps away from Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, and the prestigious Pařížská shopping street, boasting the most picturesque view of both the bridge and Prague Castle.
As described by the hotel manager, Mr. Martin Dell, the first Czech manager in the history of this Grande Dame, “it took us many years to find the perfect location for our hotel, and we found it. We are at the heart of the city.”
Indeed, the location was carefully chosen, and the hotel complex merges several historic buildings joined together with a new building, creating a fascinating journey through architectural styles and historical periods.
The oldest is the Baroque building from the sixteenth century, decked in bright red and housing both the Royal Suite and several conference halls. The Neo-Renaissance and Neoclassical buildings are from the nineteenth century; the first was an apartment building, and the second was initially used as a factory. The rooms in both are more subdued but also beautifully designed and furnished in shades of blue and gold, respectively.
The lobby and restaurants are housed in the new building, erected twenty years ago and connected with the older parts of the hotel through a series of corridors and passages. The design here is more modern, and the public spaces are rich in artwork by contemporary Czech artists, not to mention the famous Czech crystal. “We see this design as a great advantage,” said the manager, “as we offer our guests not one product, but four different ones, whether they are looking for a specific history, design, or feel.”
Apart from the 157 gorgeous rooms (including 19 of the largest suites in Prague) and the spectacular views from most of them, hotel guests also enjoy the excellent Cotto Crudo restaurant, specializing in modern takes on the classic Italian and Mediterranean fare, using the freshest produce. Drinks, snacks, or afternoon tea are also served in the lounge, called The Gallery, and during the summer months, the hotel offers two more pop-up restaurants – the Japanese Miru on the fifth-floor open terrace and the Piazzetta on the ground floor.
Unfortunately, we visited the hotel outside the summer season, but according to Mr. Dell, both offer exceptional dining experiences: “Imagine just four tables on the terrace, and you’re sitting there at night with Charles bridge and the Castle almost within your reach. It’s sensational. We also have the Piazzetta, which is very different altogether. You have free access from the street so that you can pop in for a gelato or a glass of wine, and we also have our own food truck there.” Again, did you notice the recurring number four?
Of course, Prague and the Four Seasons are perfect any time of year, providing guests with unforgettable experiences in winter as well, when the famous Christmas markets are in full swing, and the whole city is covered in snow. The hotel staff sets up a huge Christmas tree, and as Mr. Dell describes it, there’s nothing more magical than sitting in the lobby, sipping mulled wine, and listening to soft piano music against the backdrop of this enchanting City of a Hundred Spires.
Two other experiences that must be booked in advance and are not to be missed are a visit to the spa and a river cruise aboard the hotel’s private boat. The impressive spa is housed in the Neoclassical building, with five treatment rooms, a small pool with two Jacuzzis, a sauna, and a steam room. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, you have to book a time slot for your own private spa time, and the intimate atmosphere will make it even more special.
But the highlight for us was the hotel boat. There is no better way to discover the beauty of Prague than cruising the river with a Captain rich in knowledge about the city, Vltava River, and the classical music inspired by both. The experience includes a picnic basket with a bottle of champagne and snacks, and is perfect for a special occasion, a marriage proposal, or just spending a magical hour with your family and friends. Even if you do not stay at the hotel, you can call reception and book the cruise (it costs around 280 euros).
Service and innovation, even in times of pandemic
As you might have guessed, the Four Seasons brand has also suffered a blow during the current pandemic. But every cloud has a silver lining, as the hotel manager explained: “all hotels had a difficult year last year; we didn’t know what to expect. However, we do believe the worst is behind us. We know the near future won’t be easy, but we are definitely moving forward. We focused this year on hiring new talent. If we create a culture where employees look after our guests, create for them lifetime memories, and ensure they have the best time and keep coming back, that’s exactly what the company is built on.”
The meticulous service, one of the hallmarks of the Four Seasons brand, was not compromised in any way during the pandemic. On the contrary, it has recently received a significant and innovative upgrade. “COVID allowed us to stop for a minute and think about how we operate. A lot has changed in the last two decades, so we have made the changes needed to be a better hotel for our employees and our guests. For example, we streamlined our check-in and our communications with our guests. We have a super friendly app for check-in, with an online chat where you can text us to book a table or a spa treatment while sightseeing, so it’s really convenient.
“Great design, a great product, a beautiful location, that’s expected of every luxury brand, but what makes us special is the team and the service. That’s why I’m incredibly excited to be back here in Prague.”
A sense of home
We asked Mr. Dell to give us some recommendations for first-time and returning visitors to Prague. “If you’ve never been to Prague, we’re just steps away from the Jewish Quarter, in Josefov, where the Jewish heritage is a thousand years old, as the first Jewish merchants settled here in the 11th century. The Jewish Museum is definitely not to be missed.
“For those who have been in Prague before, I would recommend visiting Karlin, it’s an up-and-coming district of galleries and artists, with lots of bars and restaurants, that’s where locals go. The Prague Zoo is also highly recommended, it is one of the most beautiful in Europe, and next to it there is a botanical garden.”
He summed up our chat by saying, “if it’s your home away from home, we did a good job.” And that was indeed how I felt, like coming back home to my comfortable and welcoming pad, and maybe that’s why the number four is so appropriate for Four Seasons Prague (and the brand as a whole), as it evokes a feeling of stability, reliability and a sense of security.
The writer was a guest of Four Seasons Prague.