1. Where to Stay
Control the ambiance at MOODs (from $140), where rooms feature adjustable lighting that spans the color spectrum and luxurious handmade beds by Swedish company Hästens. Opened in 2010, this design hotel sets itself apart with an emphasis on technology (there’s a mobile app you can download) as well as unique touches like a 24-hour bar and breakfast service, and complimentary 30-minute Thai massages if you stay more than three nights. Ask for Rooms 305 or 405 for the best views of the Vltava River, and definitely take the short walk to see the iconic Municipal House and Powder Tower in Republic Square.
Find respite from the busy streets surrounding Wenceslas Square at Hotel Yasmin (from $127), designed by Czech minimalist Barbora Skorpilová and housed in a landmark building that dates to the 1890s. Inside, its Zenlike rooms in varying shades of ivory are juxtaposed with black-tiled bathrooms and silver accents to provide a visual yin and yang. For a look at some of the city’s architecture, book a deluxe room on the sixth floor, where you can spot the spires of Powder Gate and Jindřišská Tower through skylights.
Spend less without giving up style at the Fusion Hotel (beds from $20; rooms from $100), where minimalist rooms feel like galleries with stark white walls and the occasional burst of color. Book Rooms 302, 402, or 502 for 180-degree views of the city, or splurge on the forthcoming Fusion penthouse (from $228; anticipated opening in February), which will feature a private terrace looking out toward Prague Castle and Old Town Square. In the evening, you can stop into the lobby’s Skype booth before having cocktails at 360˚, Europe’s first rotating bar, which turns into a dance spot on Fridays and Saturdays, when resident D.J.’s spin techno until the wee hours.
2. Where to Eat
Book well in advance for the five-course, pan-Asian tasting menu ($43) at Sansho, where British chef Paul Day (formerly of Nobu London) serves small plates at communal tables. The locally sourced menu changes often, but signature dishes include soft-shell-crab sliders, a salad of pork belly and watermelon, and beef rendang that is stewed for twelve hours.
Spend a morning strolling the gardens in Letna Park before having breakfast or lunch at Bistro 8, a new retro-inspired café that feels like a slice of Americana in the emerging Holešovice district. Locals start their day with the breakfast special: fluffy pancakes, fruit over granola, and cappuccino ($3.50), but come noon, there are also soups made from scratch ($2), quiche ($2.50), and pork dumplings ($3.50) on the menu.
Snag a waterfront table on the Vltava River at Jazz Dock, a modernist, glass-walled space offering scenic views and nightly performances. Fill up on supper-club classics like baked Camembert ($5.50) and steak and potatoes ($9.50) before the second act of the night takes the stage around 10 p.m. and transforms the restaurant into a swanky jazz club.
3. What to Do
Get acquainted with Prague’s boutique scene at Gallery by Minty Concept Club, a progressive shop in the heart of Old Town that doubles as a pop-up gallery that hosts rotating installations from emerging local artists and international brands. London-born owner Yasmin Keshmiri Hejduk also carries housewares, clothing, and accessories from up-and-coming designers not available anywhere else in the city—notably French brand ibride and Britain’s current “It” designer, Emma Cook.
Stop into Qubus Design Studio, a decade-old design firm run by leading designers Maxim Velčovský and Jakub Berdych, to discover contemporary takes on traditional Czech glass—think a ceramic boot vase ($385) or gold-plated soup cans ($125)—and other one-of-a-kind home accessories. While you’re there, check out the fashion-focused half of this space called Denim Heads, which stocks clothing and accessories from heritage-inspired labels like Red Wing, Barbour, and Qwstion.
Witness the rebirth of a classic Czech shoe at Botas 66, a designer sneaker shop that turned a tired old brand into a street-style phenomenon. Jan Kloss and Jakub Korouš began updating Botas’s 1966 shoe with new colors and materials as art students, which led to a collaboration with the company and now a standalone store (sneakers from $40) that also draws a cult following of design enthusiasts with its selection of t-shirts, sunglasses, notebooks, and other accessories. Available only in Prague, these shoes are a testament to the city’s new creative pulse.
4. Insider’s Tip
Prague has a rich history of glassmaking and produces some of the finest pieces in the world, but many of the gift shops you’ll come across in places like Havelská Market are chintzy tourist traps. Instead, find truly unique pieces by visiting modern art galleries like Křehký and DOX, both in Holešovice. Each design emporium has one-of-a-kind glassware made by contemporary Czech artists that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
5. Oddball Day
Head out of the city for a day to find rejuvenation at Karlovy Vary, a world-class spa town in the idyllic foothills of western Bohemia. First, have breakfast in Wenceslas Square at legendary 110-year-old Café Louvre before heading to the nearby Florenc metro station to take a two-hour bus ride ($8 round-trip). After you arrive, start relaxing with a mud bath ($35) at the famous Grandhotel Pupp, whose history dates as far back to 1701 and is known for its white-glove service. Next, pass the Thermal Spa, home to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, on your way to the Vřídlo colonnade, the city’s largest hot spring. Here, the water shoots 40 feet into the air every minute and is still used for its medicinal powers. You can lounge in the geyser room for the vapors or sample the water from a series of taps. For lunch, grab a table at Café Elefant (Stará Louka 30; 353-223-406), which is best known for its Belle Epoque décor, Viennese fare, and decedent chessboard torté ($3). If you’re interested in traditional Czech-made glass, stop at the factory of Moser for a 45-minute tour (from $2.50) and a visit to the gift shop to browse the selection (international shipping can be arranged). Afterward, head over to the Becherovka distillery at the Jan Becher Museum ($5) in the center of town to sample the famous herbal bitter created by chemist Josef Becher in 1807, which is still a popular Czech digestif. The fine spirit is only made in Karlovy Vary since the spring water from the colonnades is a key ingredient. Tour the cellars where the liqueur is produced before tasting the finished product at the museum bar. Catch the next bus back to Prague (buses leave every hour, on the hour) and take a nap to prepare for a decadent meal of foie gras ($17.50) and baked scallops ($14) at newly opened Bilkova 13, a sleek fusion restaurant in Old Town. For a nightcap, try some of the 50 cognacs produced by 28 small distilleries on hand, which the cognac sommelier will be happy to advise you on.
Check to see which movies are playing at Bio Oko, a movie theater built in 1940, shuttered during the communist era, and then reopened in 2009 as the city’s premier art house.
Art Maps lists concerts, gallery openings, and film events on its events calendar.
For all things food, check out Cuketka or Czech Please, the latter of which is written in English and has an active presence on Twitter and Facebook.
Hunting Off Track or the Prague section of Hip Shops are the best resources for an insider’s guide to the best boutiques and fashion happenings.
Read up-to-date news and hotel openings on the Prague Post, the city’s only English paper.