Tips and Tricks: Choosing a Hotel in Prague
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Tips and Tricks: Choosing a Hotel in Prague

Prague was until quite recently known for being a low-cost destination. Travel there was cheap, accommodation there represented excellent value and the beer was inexpensive. Around the time someone noticed these facts and put two and two together, the number of stag and hen parties gallivanting around the city skyrocketed. Choosing hotels in Prague was more about trying to avoid getting trampled by excited revellers than anything else. During the years since, prices in the Czech capital have slowly risen to a point at which a large proportion of these groups now go in search of their fun elsewhere. Frankly, the citizens of Prague probably don't miss them much! What this means for you, though, is that the city is just that little bit more pleasant to visit.

What Prague no longer offers in economy it makes up for in atmosphere. When you first arrive though, the temptation is to follow the standard tourist track and head straight for the astronomical clock in the Old Town square, an hour later wandering around St Vitus' cathedral and washing it all down with a stroll across the Charles Bridge. Don't worry, these are all amazing sights and you'll be pleased to have witnessed them.

By using the cheap and highly efficient tram and subway systems, you can get out to the greater urban area quickly and easily. Just travelling outside of the highly commercialised core of the capital feels like a breath of fresh air. It's like realising you've unknowingly been in a museum. Going back in, then, you see things from a completely different perspective. For example, one of the best features Prague has to offer is the incredible variety of architecture. Once you've been taking it in for a day though, your brain becomes desensitised to just how beautiful the place is. Getting out into more modern surroundings resets this and restores your ability to appreciate it.

Cruising through the seas of structural design and forging ahead through the tourist tsunami both take their toll on your sanity. Without leaving the city area, the best way to maintain your grip on reality is to make a pilgrimage to one of Prague's gardens. The Royal Garden with its singing fountain, situated below the castle, is a prime candidate. Also making the shortlist is Petrin Hill. Not only will this give you room to breathe, but it will take your breath away again; first with the refreshing climb up the hill and then with the views from the top.

If you'd rather take it easy, the funicular railway will ferry you up. You'll want to walk back down; the trail is inhabited by hundreds of semi-tame squirrels which have to be seen to be believed. Before you descend, however, pay a visit to the top of the 60m observation tower. On a clear day, visibility reaches 150 km; far enough to see Snezka, the highest peak in the country. Staying open until at least 17:00 local time all year round and 22:00 in summer, the tower is quite a place to watch the sunset from. Followed up with a hearty dinner and a few famous beers at one of Prague's fine eateries, it ends your day on a high note before you return to your hotel to recharge.

One of the biggest quirks about choosing a hotel in Prague is that the international star-rating system that applies in most countries around the world is not applicable here. Hotels actually rate themselves. It's possible therefore, with a little bit of shopping around, to find yourself staying in a 'five star' hotel at three star rates.

The best advice is to research your options online before you go. Don't stay anywhere that doesn't have photographs of its facilities available to you; what do they have to hide? Remember, though, that the room in the picture is probably the best one and not the average. The most reliable measures available are the reviews of past guests. Use the power of recommendation now it has been made so easy by the Internet. Also, remember to return the favour after your stay; give other people a helping hand! Lastly, enjoy your stay in the city of a thousand spires; you're sure to experience many things that you'll remember for years to come.

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