The Augustine Hotel
The Lowdown You know you're in good hands when the porter not only zips out to greet you the moment your taxi sweeps up to the door, but knows your name too. Now that's smooth. But this sort of thing is just par for the course at The Augustine, where they do luxury with a fragrant capital 'L'. Part of the swish Rocco Forte group and in one of the city's prime sightseeing spots - nestled in the shadow of the castle and a two-minute stroll from the historical Charles Bridge – a portion of the hotel was originally an Augustine monastery. The surviving thick stone walls and gothic arches have been teamed with comfy, paired-down furnishings, so the building’s rich 13th-century history takes centre stage.
The Rooms Thankfully there's been a few upgrades to the original cells. Without knowing much about the early set-up, I'm pretty sure the monks didn't have marble-lined bathrooms, air con, kingsize beds, 24-hour concierge service or flat-screen TVs. There are 13 suites, each with a focus on cosiness and comfort rather than cutting edge décor, with low ceilings and alcoves that add to the home from home vibe. Be warned though, the combination of thick curtains and huge soft beds mean it's very easy to sleep in and - er - almost miss your flight home...
Eating and drinking Brilliantly, breakfast is served until 2pm at the weekends and 11am on weekdays so if you’ve been on the becherovka the night before there’s no need for a bleary-eyed rush downstairs. The airy Lichfield restaurant has a floor-to-ceiling glass wall looking out onto the old courtyard where the monks used to stroll back and forth to prayers, and is the perfect place to sit with a morning paper and a plate of their out-of-this world buttermilk pancakes. Across the courtyard you can relax in the cloisters on some of the squashy armchairs with a drink before dinner, or if it’s grotty weather there’s the St Thomas Brewery Bar in the cellar where the old 17th century stalactites and stalagmites have been preserved and locals come for a glass of beer and Czech tapas. If you fancy a quiet night away from the busy cobbled streets you can head back to the Lichfield restaurant for dinner where there are some great bohemia specials on offer (try the ox cheek braised in the hotel’s brewery beer).
Out and about Prague is so compact that the best way to see it is on foot, soaking up the city’s Disney-like turrets and pretty pastel-painted buildings. We worked up a puff climbing the hundred or so steps to the castle, which has incredible views across the city. If you’ve got a bigger budget book a ticket to the state opera (state-opera.com) - worth it alone for the theatre’s spectacularly plush interior. For eating out in the evening try the Kampa Park restaurant (kampagroup.com), with romantic views across Charles Bridge, or dine in the opulent chandelier-filled splendour of Francouzska Restaurant (Republiky 5, Prague 110 000) in the Old Town Square.
The details Augustine Hotel Prague, Letenská 12/33, 118 00 Praha 1. For reservations, please call the hotel on 0042 0 266 11 22 or visit roccofortehotels.com. Book three nights or more this summer at the Augustine Hotel, Prague and the last night is complimentary. The ‘stay longer for less’ package starts from EUR 492 euros excluding taxes for double occupancy for three nights, including daily breakfast for two (approx £386 at today’s exchange rate)