Right on cue, just in time for the renowned festivities of Wenceslas Square, snow has fallen on the Golden City. As we stroll across Charles Bridge, carols echo down from the tower. White-tipped Baroque buildings and a twinkle of Christmas lights create the backdrop. Hot wine and chestnuts fill the hole.
It's 5pm and a crowd has gathered below the Astronomical Clock, the doors open and the Procession of the Twelve Apostles begins. As I look up I expect to see Santa and Rudolf flying past. They don't of course, but at this time of year, huddled here in the magic of Prague Old Town, you can't help but believe...
The Augustine, Mala Strana, Praha 1
A five-minute walk from Charles Bridge, behind a cobbled courtyard in the super-trendy Mala Strana district, The Augustine is housed in three beautifully renovated 13th century monastery buildings, arched stone corridors surround pretty courtyard gardens with outside heated seating areas to take in the views. Bells chime every hour, on the hour, from the neighbouring
St Thomas Church.
The Room: 425, set over three floors in the monastery's former astronomical tower, the tower suite gives stunning 360 degree views of the city and Prague Castle. The design is inspired by early 20th century Czech cubism coupled with sumptuous soft furnishings.
Facilities include: Lounge with cosy sofa, mini bar, flat screen TV, and iPod dock with surround sound. A stunning spiral staircase leads to a marble bathroom with a freestanding iron bath and walk-in monsoon shower, then up to the bedroom, with king-size bed, walk-in wardrobe, chaise longue, and the most incredible views of the city. Ren products, Nespresso machines, flat screen TV, iPod dock and chargeable wi-fi in all rooms.
The Spa: Spa Augustine circles the basement of the hotel, fresh and contemporary in design, with a calming ambience.
Facilities include: Two relaxation areas, one with day-loungers, serving tea, juices, fruit and snacks. Aromatherapy Finish sauna and steam rooms, Hamamm and two rain showers. Manicure suite, six candle-lit treatment rooms and a couples room. Well-equipped gym with an 'on call' personal trainer, and one to one yoga sessions. In-room treatments available.
The Treatment: Surrender massage. A tailor made massage to suit specific needs. The treatment begins with a refreshing Himalayan salt and eucalyptus foot scrub. Ila body oil, with arnan oil, rose and lavender are then used for a low pressure relaxing back massage, with concentration on any problem areas, followed by a pressure point shiatsu massage. Warm aroma bags are then placed on the spine. A head, neck and shoulder massage completes the treatment. Czk 3,300
Other treatments include: St Thomas Beer Body Ritual. One for the boys; a pure beer scrub, Hamamm beer splash and body massage followed by a small beer for consumption to finish. Hmm... Czk 3,900
To Eat: Litchfields, a Czech-European fusion menu with an extensive seafood selection. Litchfields Bar for sandwiches, snacks and pasta. In-room dining available.
Don't Miss: A stroll across Charles Bridge to the Old Town and square, and the best coffee in Mala Strana at Bistro Palliardi.
The Deal: Winter B&B, stay two nights throughout January and get the third night free. From £170. www.theaugustine.com
The Mandarin Oriental, Mala Strana, Praha 1
A short walk from Charles Bridge and within easy reach of the banks of the Vltava river and Kampa Museum of Modern Art, The Mandarin Oriental is set in a beautiful walled, cobbled courtyard and housed in a 14th century monastery building and chapel with surrounding private gardens. A wish list Christmas pad, pen and Santa post box await us on the reception desk. OK, it's obviously for the little ones.
The Room: 324, deluxe garden room, overlooks a pretty courtyard garden (some rooms have private terraces in the garden). Contemporary in style with a slight Asian edge.
Facilities include: Large bedroom with king-size bed and a small seating area, marble bathroom with walk-in monsoon shower and tub with TV. Turn-down service with 'sleep' pillow spray. Flat screen TV, free wi-fi, iPod dock and Aromatherapy Associates products in all rooms. Fresh fruit and handmade chocolates on arrival.
The Spa: The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is a stroll across the courtyard and housed in the old chapel building. A calming atmosphere with a serene, Oriental feel. A feature glass floor overlooks the ancient foundations of the chapel.
Facilities include: two lantern-lit relaxation areas with day beds, serving tea, water fruit and snacks. Three candle-lit treatment rooms and two couples rooms. Steam, sauna and a hydra-vitality pool. Well-equipped, 24 hour gym with personal training available. Yoga classes. In-room treatments available.
The Treatment: Oriental Essence. The treatment begins with an in-depth health consultation followed by choice of Aromatherapy Associates oils. The oil you choose is the one your body needs at that time. A deep aroma inhalation and chime of a Tibetan bell to calm the senses is followed by a stretch of limbs and a kneading back massage to work away knots. The treatment ends with a pressure point face, neck and head massage. Czk 3,500
Other treatments include: Age Repair Facial, using the anti-inflammatory properties of rosehip and pomegranate to combat puffiness and Inca inchi and larch extract to promote collagen. Czk 3,900
To Eat: Essensia offers two separate Eastern European and Asian menus with a good selection of meat, fish and vegetarian cuisine and a great selection of Czech wine. (trust me, it's good!). Barego Bar offers bar food and snacks. In-room dining available.
Don't Miss: A trip to the Museum Kampa, and a stroll along the Vlatva river.
St Wenceslas Christmas Market is open until Jan 13th 2013.
The Deal: Rates at Mandarin Oriental, Prague start from £240 per night on
a B&B basis.
For further information and bookings please call +420 233 088 888 or visit www.mandarinoriental.com/prague
EasyJet flies to Prague from London Gatwick, Bristol, Edinburgh, Stansted and Manchester. Flight prices start from £37.99 per person (one-way, including taxes, based on two people on the same booking). Visit www.easyJet.com to book.
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