Prague Marriott Hotel (Lodging)
Address and Website: V Celnici 8, 110 00 Praha 1; www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/prgdt-prague-marriott-hotel
Location: The hotel’s location is excellent. It is pretty much in the Old Town, within walking distance of everything as long as you don’t mind walking. It is very close to Old Town Square which is beautiful all lit up at night, a farther walk from Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
Overall: I loved everything about this hotel. I had not been staying with Marriott as much lately, and this made me reconsider what loyalty program I stick with in the future. We were staying on hotel points (I have gold status) and were upgraded to an amazing room. They gave us access to the hotel’s Club Lounge, and it was absolutely amazing. It was 2 floors (downstairs had a comfortable sitting area where you could relax with a drink or read a book and computers with free internet access and upstairs had tables and food and beverages–complimentary). There was a wonderful breakfast every morning there (filled us for a good part of the day). Also, during they day there were snacks, drinks, and coffee/tea. In the evenings they had a happy hour with all different types of beer, wine & liquor (complementary) and appetizers (one night we were so full from this that we made it our dinner). The staff working there was also extremely friendly. I really don’t have one thing negative to say about it or our stay.
Photos: Left: Our Bedroom; Center: View of Old Town from Our Bedroom Window; Right: Our Sitting Area
Hotel Staff: The service at the hotel was impeccable. We had opera tickets dropped off and they were waiting at the front desk upon our arrival, and every time we had a question about anything the staff was very helpful in answering it. Also, they gave us access to the hotel’s Club Lounge. The service up there was impeccable, as well. They went out of their way to make sure we had what we needed.
Room: We were upgraded to an amazing room (more like a suite, beautiful decor, a sitting room, and a very comfortable bed). We even had a little bit of a view of the old town from our window. Our bathroom was very nice and clean. Overall, I could not have been happier with it.
Courtyard Prague Airport (Lodging)
Address and Website: Aviaticka 1092/8 · Prague, 161 00 Czech Republic; www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/prgpa-courtyard-prague-airport
Location: The hotel’s location is excellent if you are coming from or going to the airport. It was located directly across from the airport, and we easily just walked across the street to get there. I would not use it as my base for a stay in Prague itself since it is 30 minutes from the city center by car, but it was very useful for getting in from a late flight and not having to then travel into the city (or vice versa if you had a very early flight out in the morning).
Overall: The convenient location of the hotel trumped everything else really, and the price we got was very reasonable. The lobby was nice enough, the food we had in the restaurant was surprisingly good (and the portions were large), and our room was average. We arrived late at the airport and all we had to do was walk across the street to get to the hotel which was very convenient. We were kind of hungry, so we went down to the restaurant and had a bite to eat. By then it was more or less time for bed, so we didn’t spend a lot of free time wandering the hotel. In general, though, our room was quiet (which is important when next to an airport), and the staff seemed nice enough.
Photo: View of Airport Terminal 1 from the Hotel
Room: Our room overall was fine. It was definitely nothing special, but I don’t have any major complaints about it. The hotel we stayed at in Prague Old Town was much nicer, but for what we used it for, it definitely served its purpose.
Opera Performance at Prague National Theater (Entertainment)
Address and Website: Národní třída, Prague 1, Czech Republic (at the Vltava river embankment); www.nationaltheatre.cz
Venue: This beautiful venue was opened in 1883. It was the nicest theater I have ever seen. It was also not an oversized theater, so I doubt there were any truly bad seats in the house. Going to a performance is worth it just to see this beautiful building. The ticket price was very affordable, and we had some great seats. The golden interior with the rich, velvet colored seats were a beautiful combination.
Performance: The performance was wonderful; we saw La Traviata. It was our first opera, and I did some research ahead of time on the story line. Before we went, we read a summary of what each act was about so we had a general idea of it. Also, they had what the singers were saying in English and I assume Czech projected above the stage. It was hard to watch and read it all at the same time, but periodically, it was nice to be able to look and see that to better understand what was going on. Our seats were 3 back from the orchestra, so we could see what was going on down in the pit, as well as on stage. The performers were all very good, and the scenes were great, as well.
Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle (Entertainment)
Address: Castle Square; the courtyard (and road leading toward it) in front of Prague Castle
Venue: The backdrop of the castle and surrounding buildings add to the pomp and circumstance surrounding this occasion.
Performance: The changing of the guard, while a little outdated, is definitely worth seeing. It occurs from 5am-11pm, but the best time to view it is at noon when there is the most prolonged ceremony and best music. The ceremony is interesting to compare and contrast to other cities throughout Europe (London, Athens, etc). The guards paraded down the street and into Castle Square, and the whole thing lasted about 10-15 mins.
Prague Castle Orchestra (Entertainment)
Address and Website: Hradcanske Square by the Prague Castle entrance, right in front of castle guards; www.angelaccordion.com/en/prague-castle-orchestra
Venue: The musicians add to the atmosphere of Prague Castle, and provide a nice, authentic backdrop to any visit.
Performance: You can get a listen for yourself on the link above. They are very skilled musicians, and are definitely worth stopping to listen to for a minute (or a few). You can also purchase their CD if you like them, as well.
Prague Astronomical Clock “Show” (Entertainment)
Address: Prague Old Town Square
Venue: Out in the Square; the square itself is lively and very photogenic (as is the clock tower)
Performance: Everyday at the top of the hour from 8am-9pm, tourists crowd the Old Town Square to see the most overrated tourist attraction in Prague performs. The entire performance consists of a figure representing death tipping an hourglass & pulling a cord that rings a bell. The windows above it then open up and the 12 Apostles quickly slide by. Finally, the rooster crows. That’s it. The only reason I gave this a two is because 1) everyone seems to need to see this performance while in Prague (so that they can say they did–it will only take a few seconds) and 2) the actual Astronomical Clock itself is very beautiful and worth seeing sans the “show,” so you might as well time your visit right and witness it with all of the other tourists, as well.
Personal Prague Guide – Michaela Jiroutová (Guide)
Guide Info: Šárka Kačabová (owner) – Personal Prague Guide (we used Michaela Jiroutová), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.personalpragueguide.com
Tour Info: I was a bit unsure of what Prague would be like having never ventured that far east in Europe before. I also wasn’t sure how many English speaking people we would be able to find. Those two things in conjunction with the affordable price of hiring a private guide in Prague made selecting one for our first day there to get an orientation to the city and its sites and easy decision. We booked through a company called Personal Prague Guide run by the respected Šárka Kačabová. She came well reviewed and recommended by Rick Steves, as well. She employs many guides in Prague (as well as arranges transfers and even provides restaurant and Prague travel tips on her website). Our guide for the day, Michaela–Míša–was very helpful. She met us promptly in our hotel lobby. We booked a 4 hour tour and got to see plenty during that time period. Míša took us first to the Old Town Square where we saw the Astronomical Clock’s Glockenspiel in time to watch it go off (it’s honestly pretty uneventful, but everyone lines up to see it). We then worked our way toward Charles Bridge stopping at sights along the way and then up toward St. Vittus Cathedral and Prague Castle. She ensured that we were at the castle in time to see the changing of the guard. We also ventured into a lovely garden area below the castle where we got some great photos. At the end of our tour, she gave us a good restaurant recommendation close to where we ended our tour which we requested because we were a block from the Jewish Quarter. Then we were able to conveniently go and tour that area (inside the old cemetery, synagogues, etc) on our own after we ate. The only slight negative I could say is that when we were at a site and asked for he to take a picture of us together with it, it wasn’t usually the best (the site was half cut off or we were in an odd location in the picture). That’s a silly complaint, but it is often nice to have a guide that takes good pictures because it’s hard to get ones together when traveling otherwise. Other than that one little thing, everything was great and I definitely recommend both the company and Míša.
Personal Prague Guide – Airport Transfer (Transportation)
Contact Info: Šárka Kačabová (owner) – Personal Prague Guide, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.personalpragueguide.com
Experience: This chauffeur service came recommended by the same company we booked our personal guide through. They arranged our pick-up and drop-off for us through a reliable driver. For 600 CZK (about $30), we were picked up at the airport (we were actually staying at a hotel there overnight) and dropped off with no issues. Our driver was friendly and even taught us a few words of Czech during our ride into the city. I found the rate reasonable (no worry about being cheated by a taxi driver) and driver’s driving very safe.
Mike’s Chauffeur Service (Transportation)
Contact Info: Mike’s Chauffeur Service (based in Prague), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.mike-chauffeur.cz
Experience: This chauffeur service came recommended by the hotel we stayed at in Český Krumlov. The owner, Michael Jakubuv, was very responsive to all of my back-and-forth emails and questions. I believe his father was the one who actually ended up driving us. We decided to do the transport from Prague to Český Krumlov with stop-offs in Hluboká Castle and České Budějovice enroute. I think it was a good decision. We didn’t spend a lot of time at the stop-offs, so it didn’t limit our time in other places too much. Hluboká Castle, however, was definitely the more interesting of the 2 stop-offs. I wish we had made time to go inside there (it’s designed to be a mini Windsor Castle), but we had plans to meet up with our guide in Český Krumlov at a certain time. Either way, though, the outside was impressive, and the grounds were beautiful. It was worth seeing. České Budějovice was ok, but not a place you should go out of your way to see. It was on our way anyway, and the main square was pretty. Also, there were several good bakeries and coffee shops around it. We just took the opportunity to relax and have a capuccino and dessert after a quick exploration of the area. Our driver was friendly. He even offered to take our picture in the main square of České Budějovice before we left so that we could have a picture together. I actually wish we had used them to take us from Český Krumlov to Vienna, as well. I wanted to save a bit of money so I opted for the shuttle (below), but this was definitely the more comfortable way to travel. Note: The company does tours around (and outside of) Prague, as well.
Shuttle Lobo (Transportation)
Contact Info: Shuttle Lobo (based in Český Krumlov), e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.shuttlelobo.cz
Experience: This shuttle service came recommended in one of my guide books. They run shuttles from Český Krumlov to Vienna, Salzburg, Linz, and Prague (and vice versa). We used it from Český Krumlovv to Vienna (but you could use it from Prague to Český Krumlov or vice versa). In Český Krumlov, they picked us up right in the city's main square (the closest you could get to our hotel when driving–half a block away). I was a little bit nervous that we would somehow miss them or they would leave without us (no deposit required ahead of time), but we had no issues. (In Český Krumlov, you can also catch it in front of the Lobo Guest House which is run by the same people.) There were 2 other couples in the van traveling with us. The van wasn’t uncomfortable, but someone really needed to put on some deodorant (either one of the employees or a passenger), and that can make a long car ride very unenjoyable after a while. Otherwise, though, we had no issues. The price was reasonable, and the person we contacted to book it was prompt, helpful and friendly. They dropped us right at the West Bahnhof Train Station in Vienna where we easily hopped on the Metro to get to our hotel (took less than 10 mins).