Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Bohemian Rhapsody (2014)


Hotel 1: Hilton Old Town, Prague
Saturday 01 March to Tuesday 04 March (3 nights)
Room 814 (Executive Twin)
The smaller of two Hilton hotels in Prague, this one is the more conveniently situated for tourists, being just a ten-minute stroll away from Old Town Square. It is also a relatively short distance from the city's main railway station, although we were glad that we had walked the route in advance before attempting it with luggage in tow.

Thanks to my Diamond membership in the HHonors programme, we were upgraded to an eighth-floor Executive room with interesting angled windows as the main design feature. The Executive Lounge was a pleasant facility with friendly and helpful staff, but was perhaps a little on the small side. We sampled breakfast in the lounge and also in the ground-floor Zinc restaurant and thought that both were excellent. The lobby bar was another attractive space and a good choice for a nightcap.

All things considered, a most enjoyable stay!
Hotel 2: Quisisana Palace, Karlovy Vary 
Tuesday 04 March to Thursday 06 March (2 nights)
Room 401 (Twin Grand Deluxe)
This luxury boutique hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is set in a beautifully restored building situated just across the River Teplá from the legendary Grand Hotel Pupp. Indeed the building dates from 1887-88 when Anton Pupp commissioned it as a gift for his wife. Quite remarkably, we appeared to be the only resident guests (though not the only customers) during our stay!

Our room was comfortable, well equipped and tastefully decorated, although not very spacious. The inclusive breakfasts were cooked to order, nicely presented and most enjoyable. Staff were very friendly and helpful. We thought that the bar was a little lacking in ambience, but this was partly a consequence of being the only patrons. Not surprisingly in one of the most famous spa resorts in Europe, the hotel has its very own spa facility, but we didn't get around to sampling this.

Overall, this was a delightful and well-situated property, but we couldn't help feeling just a tiny bit guilty that so many staff had turned out just for our benefit!  
Hotel 3: Angelo, Plzeň
Thursday 06 March to Friday 07 March (1 night)
Room 316 (Superior Twin)
This ultra-modern hotel could hardly be better positioned in Pilsen: the main station is a three-minute walk away and the Pilsner Urquell brewery (the main tourist attraction in town) lies just across a pedestrian footbridge. The old town is also within easy walking distance, although the route in this case is made less straightforward by a major road that is awkward to cross safely.

The internal decor pulls no punches and will not be to everybody's taste. The photographic theme of the Jazz Bar spills over into Reception and guests will search in vain for restrained pastel tones. Although the hotel was very busy, we were pleasantly surprised by the remarkably low incidence of any extraneous noise. The extensive breakfast spread was appealing, being mainly on Germanic lines with a few added concessions to British and American tastes.

Overall, expectations for this short stay were set at the modest end of the scale and in the event were comfortably exceeded.

ABOVE: Walkway to the famous brewery
Hotel 4: Clarion Congress, České Budějovice
Friday 07 March to Saturday 08 March (1 night)
Room 1218 (Twin)
This hotel is situated roughly half-way between the beautiful Old Town and the famous Budweiser Budvar brewery. It's a bit of a trek from the main station, especially with luggage, but we managed to decipher the workings of the city's bus system and got there with no difficulty. The hotel opened in 2011 after extensive renovation of a building dating from 1982. The room was decidedly small, but nicely enough decorated and furnished. The lobby bar was well stocked but lacked ambience due to bright lighting, strong colours and hard surfaces.

We cut short our originally planned two-night stay after spending a sleepless first night in a grossly overheated room where the air conditioning had been turned off for winter and the window only opened a sliver.
Hotel 5: Bellevue, Český Krumlov
Saturday 08 March to Sunday 09 March (1 night)
Room 201 (Twin)
This attractive hotel occupies a 16th-century building located within the boundaries of the town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, close to the castle. The location is only about 60km north of Linz and we both felt that this property, with its high standards of cleanliness, excellent food and friendly service, would have been completely at home as an independent hotel in Austria. Our room faced onto an inner courtyard and therefore missed out on having an attractive view, but this was more than made up for by a complete lack of noise from the street.

The high-end restaurant Le Jardin deserves special mention, serving what is probably the best food in town.

Our stay at this gem of a property only came about because of a problem experienced at the previous hotel. Sometimes it seems as though these things happen for a reason. Either way, this was a wonderful base from which to enjoy our final full day in Bohemia.
RIGHT: The highly regarded Le Jardin in-house restaurant