Great for history buffs and lovers of hotels that feel like home
What is it? 99-room hotel
Will set you back: 265 – 2590 euros p/n
When we discovered that the worldwide hotel group, the Mandarin Oriental had a hotel in Prague and that it was in the stunning historical precinct of Mala Strana, we were impressed. When we further discovered that the hotel itself was built on the site of a former 14th century monastery, we knew we had to experience it for ourselves. On arrival, we decided the impression it made from the outside was modest – you would never know that it was there at all, if you didn’t go looking for it, and compared to other Mandarin Orientals around the world, it is definitely on the more boutique side. It is the greeting we received the moment we walked through the doors, however, that made the strong first impression. The Manager on duty warmly greeted us, not knowing that we were actually there to write a review on the hotel, and handed us her business card, imploring us to contact her if we needed anything during our stay. If this is something that the Mandarin Oriental Prague does for every one of their guests, then this hotel is off to a wonderful start.
The Mandarin Oriental Prague’s website describes its design as a “blending of contemporary design with period features”, and we noticed this does seem to be its signature as we admired the somewhat understated, elegant and warm lobby. Its adjoining bar area takes it up a notch, with an incredibly cosy feel thanks to its intimate size and ambient lighting. The fantastic choice of artwork here takes up hero status in the room and strikes a bold, contemporary contrast to the rest of the space’s classic and traditional design, which we loved. The restaurant is particularly unique in design, with a unique Renaissance-inspired setting of multiple rooms slightly separated, beautiful Renaissance ceilings and its own restaurant lobby.
As for the rooms, we stayed in an entry-level Superior Room, and it had an incredibly warm and cosy feel to it. Although the room is not the most luxurious we have stayed in, the room has been designed in such a way as to give it a very a inviting and relaxed feel. It almost feels as though the room would be right at home in your own house. The palette I found to be slightly on the dated side, with an emphasis on conservative creams and beiges, with splashes of royal blue and red to contrast and add warmth. The bathroom seemed to convey a little more luxury with its twin basins, its use of limestone and under-floor heating, plus the aromatherapy bathroom amenities. However, the best bit of all about the room was the generous windows, which look out to the picturesque streets of Mala Strana and allow copious amounts of light to stream in. If you really want to live in the lap of luxury though, there’s no going past the Presidential Suite, located in a private two-storey tower with a 360-degree view over the fairy tale city that is Prague.
Comfort is an area that was stand-out at the Mandarin Oriental. The pillow menu was extensive, the mattress was great and the in-room technology was excellent. The wireless is included in the room and is high speed, fast enough to have a crystal-clear Skype conversation. The LCD TV is top-notch, and the in-room entertainment includes iphone integration. The only thing we missed in the comfort stakes was the in-room coffee machine – if you’ve read our other reviews you would know that this is non-negotiable for us at Never Leaving!
The Mandarin Oriental Prague is renowned for its spa, which is set in a formal Renaissance chapel – seriously. Unfortunately for us, the spa was closed for a private function during our stay (Louis Vuitton, no less) so we didn’t get to witness either its historical beauty or its reputably balancing and rejuvenating benefits. We do recommend experiencing the spa if you find yourself at the Mandarin Oriental, though, because the little we have seen has us convinced that the experience would be hard to beat. You can expect all the usual amenities at this lovely hotel, too, such as the fitness centre and a particularly stunning business centre that, again, nods to the building’s beautiful, original architecture.
Service is outstanding at the Mandarin Oriental. Aside from the attentive greeting as we arrived at check-in, other elements of service were notable. The young staff member that showed us to our room was well informed and helpful with local recommendations, and the housekeeping service was twice daily and excellent. I loved the little extras during the turn-down service that included complimentary petit-fours and bottled water by the bed, as well as a lavender sleep spray for your pillow. The gentleman that waited on us at Spices Restaurant was also extremely experienced and professional.
Spices Restaurant is the only dining option at Mandarin Oriental, but as it’s considered the best Asian food by Prague locals, there is probably no need for another restaurant in the hotel, even if there was room for one. You can, however, enjoy all-day casual dining in the lounge, if you’re interested in a glass of wine and a light meal.
Renaissance-style vaulted ceilings give Spices a special charm, reminding you of the hotel’s historical significance, while its menu is a nod to the Mandarin Oriental’s Asian roots. I started the evening off with an Asian-themed Tom Yum cocktail which was tasty, if not the best Asian cocktail I’ve had. Onto the food menu, Executive Chef Jiří Štift’s has created a well-thought out and enticing menu, presented in three categories, which we loved the idea of. You can choose from dishes that herald from south-east Asia, north-east Asia and south-west Asia – from Thai and Indonesian to Indian and Japanese offerings, there is something for everyone. We opted for a combination of all three at the recommendation of the waiter, beginning with a Chinese entrée and then moving onto both Thai and Indian mains. While the food itself was perfectly fine, some of the dishes weren’t quite as tasty or authentic as they could have been, and definitely weren’t as good as what you will find in our homeland, Australia, where Asian food is king. For Prague’s Asian food market, however, we can see why Spices would be so popular.
The menu is served “family style”, in the middle for everyone at the table to share, however this would perhaps be my biggest criticism of the restaurant. Not only did we find the arrangement of the food on the table uncomfortable, leaving next to no room for our own plates, but the strong flavours that Asian food is so loved for just didn’t lend themselves to cross-pollination – that is, mixing and matching. A mouthful of Sri Lankan curry followed by a bite of Pad Thai just didn’t work for us and in fact took away from the depth of flavour of each dish. Although I really enjoyed the flavours, in particular those in the Beef Fillet, Foie Gras & Unagi Wonton dish, I would suggest picking just one Asian region for your meal and sticking to it if you’re planning on sharing dishes. In my opinion, though, sometimes, sharing isn’t caring.
The Mandarin Oriental is located in arguably the most beautiful area of Prague – the historical Mala Strana district. With its picturesque cobbled streets, plethora of restaurants and proximity to the famous 14th century Charles Bridge, it’s in an ideal location. You can walk to Prague Castle in 15 minutes, and the main, tourist-filled Wenceslas Square is also only a 20-minute walk by foot.
contemporary yet cosy hotel that oozes historical charm