Last week I told you the story of how I came to live in Prague.
Back in the day.
And now to how it was a few weeks ago with son in tow.
One of the reasons that I wanted to go back to Prague again was the fact that I wanted to show my it-sounds-awfully-boring-but-I-will-if-I-have-to-listen 13 year-old tween! In a couple of years, university will beckon and he’ll be bound for the more exotic Chiang Mai in Thailand, like other young GAP year Germans & Brits, and Prague won’t even get a look in!
Every time I go to Prague, it’s always nice to know how it’s changed or otherwise.
In many ways it has changed and in many ways it hasn’t changed at all!
Let me explain.
If you’re walking through the streets of Prague you just have to look upwards and see the outlines and roof-tops of this beautiful city. Prague is a remarkable place and a city shrouded in countless myths and legends from its thousand years of history.
It’s a place which has a unique character. A city on the bank of the Vltava. A river city.
The city of a hundred spires, a UNESCO monument and one of the most beautiful cities of legends past.
Streets are lined with windows full of tempting wares that beckon you with whiffs of a delicious aroma or strange-like dishes, or perhaps the mystery of a dark outline of a Gothic castle built in 1348 and crammed with royal treasures, Bohemian crown jewels and holy relics.
Whichever way you look at it, Prague is quite magical.
When I first lived in Prague, the place was bursting with secret little dives and back-corner bars that most people could see but never saw!
I accidentally found a group of young Czech people who brought me into their fold and introduced me to “their people” as “one of them” not only that, but they also happened to be artists which meant that I rarely ever paid for theatre productions, clubs or bars and I hardly slept spending my days managing my team and my nights going from one private club to another!
In fact at one point, we were all so comfortable that I was invited by someone’s grandma to help them pick strawberries in their garden!
She didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Czech.
She just thrust a raffia basket in my arms and off I went.
Those strawberries were delicious and it was one of the best Sunday afternoons that I have ever had!
I know my way around Prague very well but of course, as every living city does, things change, places close and people move on. Prague has ten (10) zones or districts and each district has its own characteristic atmosphere and unique charm.
When I lived in Prague, I lived on the other side of the Prague Castle.
It was a bit of a slog to get to, being on the hill n’all, but we all knew a short-cut and used to either take the bus and cut through the back, or take the funicular up the hill!
Whenever I’m on a short visit in a city destination, I normally prefer to be in the thick of the action and within walking distance of all the sights, but because Prague can sometimes be heaving with visitors especially in the summer months, I decided to book outside Prague 1 and 2.
Prague 3 is particularly boring except for my favourite vegetarian restaurant at Radost FX and even though I’m not a veggie or vegan I would highly recommend their food LOL! And of course, our expat bookshop – the Globe Bookstore and Café – where we used to hang out and meet other people (it’s relocated to Prague 1!)
And I don’t think I ever went to Prague 4 at all!
This time around, I booked our hotel in Prague 5. It’s about a 10 walk from the river and is located on the west bank of the Vltava River.
Prague 5 is semi-residential with bigger hotels, fancy bars and restaurants but with real Czech locals living in the area too.
Our hotel was called Angelo Hotel Prague and was in the Prague’s Anděl neighbourhood known as the hip and trendy Smíchov Quarter.
Smíchov was famous for textile, breweries and railway carriages and most importantly, one of Prague’s most famous beers – Staropramen. In recent years, Smíchov transformed into a district of ultra-modern offices and semi-residential with a farmers market, a scattering of hotel chains, fancy bars and restaurants, but with real Czech locals living in the area too.
Our hotel – Angelo Hotel Prague – was on a quiet historical road and was about two (2) minutes from the Anděl underground station.
The location was absolutely spot on.
The Angelo Hotel Prague stands for an innovative and designed-oriented hotel concept characterized by extravagant styling, distinct colours, and inspiration of the Jazz Age. Throughout the hotel were pictures and painting of jazz music icons!
With 163 rooms and 5 suites, the trademark of the hotel is a colourful design concept of black, coral-red, yellow and white and is managed by the VI Hotel & Resorts group along with 35 other hotels around Europe. In fact, when I was researching hotels I remembered that during the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin, I had booked meetings with a couple of PR industry people and VI was one of them.
Their Communications Team remembered me and that laid the ground for where I would stay.
We were upgraded to a Superior Twin Executive Room on the 6th floor which had a help-yourself coffee-maker and drinks machine on the 6th floor lobby, and bowls of apples!
When travelling with a tween, it’s always nice to have important basics such as a large bed, a flat screen TV, and a DVD player.
Our room also had a desk and chair, a safe, a mobile phone re-charging plug, tea and coffee-making facilities, daily complimentary water, free high-speed WiFi, AC, heated floors, a nice bathroom, fluffy towels and fluffy slippers.
The WiFi was free throughout the hotel premises but if you’re on the 6th or 7th floor, make sure that you choose the extra daily option which is of no charge if you’re a higher floor guest, and is really fast.
The usual WiFi was perfectly adequate if you’re only using it for a few things, but if you have a couple of devices (which we do) and you’re not on a higher frequency, it could prove problematic.
And speaking of drinks.
The Angelo Hotel Prague is in a great area and the young front-of-house staff are enthusiastic but the service and the house-keeping staff needs to be spruced up and tightened!
We didn’t receive a welcome drink until the next day.
And we had to ask for it.
Our complimentary bottles of water were not replenished and neither were my teabags.
For black tea.
Until we asked for them.
And on one particular day, we arrived in our room to find that the used towels had been taken away but none were returned.
And we had to ask for them.
Our stay also included a welcome drink in the Jazz Bar, entrance to the fitness studio, sauna and steam bath in the hotel next door (because it wasn’t in the hotel itself, I didn’t try it out), and a rich buffet breakfast that consisted of fresh fruit, cereals, creams and yoghurt, Bohemian cold cuts, sausages, baked beans (yum!), pancakes, porridge, a variety of cheese, a very wide selection of cake, bread and pastry, vegetables, salads and Asian soup!
You could also order a choice of eggs with crispy bacon, sausage and mushrooms, or egg omelet with cheese, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms but again, you had to ask for them as there was no menu and we only got to know that the option existed when we saw a hot plate being served to a customer on a nearby table!
On our initial arrival the hotel management very kindly sent us a welcome tray of macaroons and some fruit. I couldn’t eat them personally ‘cos of the nut factor, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” was in French heaven!
Even though we weren’t in the centre of the centre, we were pretty central as Prague’s public transport system is marvellous and so easy to use.
The nearest station is on Line B (the yellow line) and is called Anděl. Anděl is but three (3) stops until you get to the city centre which is at Můstek. Six (6) stops until you get to Hradčanská which is the castle area, five (5) stops until you get to Malostranská (which is the new town), four (4) stops until Staroměstská (the old town), four (4) stops until Národní třída (the National Theatre), five (5) stops until Muzeum and onto Wencelas Square (it’s the place where everyone gathers like Times Square (US), Leicester Square (UK) and Brandenburg Gate (Germany) and five (5) stops to Hlavní nádraží (Prague’s Main Train Station.)
So you see, the Anděl neighbourhood was quite handy.
Away from all the stress and bother of rowdy tourists and noise, but near enough to either take the train or jump on a tram, as Prague’s most interesting sights and attractions were just minutes away.
If you’re feeling energetic and want to take a longer look at the area, I would recommend walking on the river-side, but it would take at least thirty (30) odd minutes, perhaps more!
In fact, on our first (1st) night we strolled around Smíchov which had a lot of young people milling around with both Czech, English and German voices and not too far away, we found a local restaurant.
We went to a local restaurant in Smíchov (Prague 5) similar to U Dvou Kocek above. Unfortunately, it was quite late and I forgot to take a photograph of the actual place itself AND you don’t get any receipts. Just a piece of plain paper stating how much you ate!
So how can you know if a restaurant is a real dive or not?
Well, you’ll know it’s local soon enough. If the menu is in Czech and the punters look dodgy and intimidating.
That’s the one to go to!
Walk in. Smile. Say “Dobrý den” and take a seat at a wooden table. Any wooden table!
They were awfully accommodating and with creaky Czech, a mish-mash of Polish and much finger-pointing, we had a hearty meal of marinated pork ribs with thickly cut roast potatoes, white cabbage and a three-sauce variety of mustard, ketchup and horse-radish! All at an unbelievable cost of 180Kč or €6.70.
My huge beer was 34Kč or €1.25 and my son’s huge coca-cola was 50Kč or €1.90. We had a couple more!
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. If you don’t drink get ready to open your wallet as beer is cheaper than water. So drink on!
As a matter of fact, Berlin used to be like that too. Beer and cola are now the same price but if you know where to look you can find beer in Berlin for about 20 cents at a local supermarket and in Prague for 12Kč or 45 cents!
If you know where to look LOL!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” had picked up a cold in Budapest and was looking rather peaky so the next day, I went on a familiarization tour around Prague by myself so that I could plan out where and what I would show my son when he felt a little better. I’ll tell you all about that next week!
If you’re in Prague, then you ought to try a few Czech sausages so in the early evening, we went for a little ramble in the immediate area and had an early dinner of Czech grilled sausages. Make sure that the sausage stand is clean and that the sausages have a quick turn-over. If there’s a queue go for it, if it’s a dead sausage stand, keep moving!
Our stay at the four-star modern designed Angelo Hotel Prague was a good choice. We chose it as it’s trendy, in a residential quarter and quiet. For the action and pulse of Prague choose the centre LOL!
So what’s the damage?
Here it comes…
All this from €141.00 per night in the Executive Room which for two (2) people would be €70.00 a pop!
if you’re looking for reliability and a bit of peace and quiet, it’s a safe bet.
There were loads of German-speaking guests and others from Argentina, the US and Italy and even though I was a bit peeved as the service could have been better, the fact is, German clients tend to be a demanding lot with high expectations, so if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!
That’s all for now. I’ll be telling you some Prague secrets next week!
For more information about the Angelo Hotel, please contact: Angelo Hotel Prague.
This article is part-sponsored by the Angelo Hotel Prague but all opinions and the huge beers that I had, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be at the following events:
On 16.09.15, the Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.
Until 26.09.15 only, the Wintergarten Varieté will be presenting The SOAP Opera show or Show SEIFEN OPER.
From 28.09.15 – 07.10.15 the Bar Jeder Vernunft will be presenting, for one (1) week only, a festival of top British entertainment – Britain’s Best! Music and Comedy.
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin right now, it’s never too late!
September is going to be swell!
Watch this space!
Do you think Prague is modern and trendy or traditional and boring? Would you eat a Czech sausage or a Czech doughnut?