Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa

Mala Strana, Prague, Czech Republic Book from

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
Sumptuous old-school glamour and a Bali-style subterranean spa in this bijou palace
Feel the splendour of Hapsburg Prague in this gilded, stuccoed, palatial hotel, with its antique furnishings, carved wooden screens, frescoes and handpainted wallpaper. The building is the 16th-century Dum u Jeziska (House of the Jesus Child, named for a picture of Christ that once hung from the façade balcony) and is appealingly intimate for a palace, with just 45 swish rooms. Staff seem delighted by your arrival and remain discreetly eager to please. It’s in a fascinating, though touristy part of town - the stage-set-pretty Malá Strana district - and only a few minutes' walk from Charles Bridge.

The subterranean spa, set in 11th-century cellars, is lit with twinkling lights and has a walkway over an aquarium, an inviting plunge pool and a Balinese feel (ornate wood screens and baths scattered with rose petals). The formal, frescoed Aquarius restaurant, the sushi bar, and the stuccoed Café Barocco Veneziano (which feels like stepping inside a wedding cake) complete the Alchymist’s charms.

Highs

  • No-holds-barred palatial surroundings on an intimate scale, in a historic, graceful building
  • Charles Bridge is just a stone’s throw away and the castle a short walk uphill
  • Fine dining in the Aquarius restaurant and great coffee (the hotel is Italian-owned)
  • Organ player tinkling the ivories in the courtyard Thur-Sun evenings (some might consider this a low!)

Lows

  • It’s pretty formal; frescoes and four-posters are lows for lovers of minimalism
  • Mala Strana may be picturesque but it’s one of Prague’s most touristy districts and it’s hard to escape the melee
  • Smaller rooms can be a bit cramped
  • Bathrooms are well appointed and marble-lined, yet nothing special compared with the bedroom decor

Best time to go

Prague lies midway between maritime and continental climates, so weather is changeable. May and September have the balmiest weather. Midsummer can be very hot and showery. Winters are cold and snowy – the city looks enchanting under a layer of snow.

Our top tips

Have a Cleopatra Treatment in the spa - a head and back massage, then you get slathered in rich body milk!

Great for...

Family
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 45
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Indoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Think red, gold, brocade, ornately carved beds, rug-strewn parquet floors, chaise longues, chandeliers, gold chairs, glass tables and oil paintings. Bathrooms are all marble-lined; toiletries are L'Occitane; towels are monogrammed. You get a bathtub as well as a shower, bidet, hairdryer and bathrobes.

Deluxe Rooms are the smallest (25-33sq.m.), but are just as richly decorated as the rest, and all have queensize beds. Next up are the spacious Junior Suites (40-53sq.m.), with an additional seating area. The Terrace Suite is a particularly swish example, with an original wooden ceiling, extra large bathroom and private terrace. The 1-bed Royal Suites are even bigger (60sq.m.) with a separate living area.

Top tip for honeymooners is the Alchymist Suite, which has a large terrace overlooking the inner courtyard, a four-poster bed and a huge marble bathroom with a central bathtub. The 2-level Family Suite combines a twin upstairs and a double downstairs, plus a kitchen.

The split-level Tower Suite includes an observatory with great views over Prague; the lower bedroom has a bathtub centre stage and both bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms. This can be combined with an adjoining Deluxe room to make a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom suite. Finally, the Imperial Suite has a lounge area, dining table, kitchen and balcony.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • Tv

Eating

Minimalism, shminimalism. The Aquarius restaurant is dressed to the nines: muralled walls featuring Hannibal crossing the Alps, potted palms, Murano chandeliers and chairs ranging from Baroque red and gold to 17th-century-gone-kitsch zebra print.

Happily, as much energy goes into the food as the decor - dishes are presented like works of art. The cuisine is Mediterranean-French-Italian, plus a small selection of Czech specialities, so you could be eating dishes such as octopus carpaccio with black Taggia olives, tender potatoes and Valerian salad, thyme-crusted rack of lamb with vegetable couscous and rosemary jus, and panna cotta with passion fruits and raspberry coulis.

There’s also the Lounge Bar and Ecsotica Juice Bar, which will keep you imbibed.

The lavish breakfast may be eaten in the restaurant, in the hotel courtyard, or in your room (extra charge). Aside from the buffet of cold cuts, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, breads and so on, you can order a cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon - the works.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Make your way across Charles Bridge and visit Stare Mesto, including the Old Town Square

  • Visit Kampa Island; find the pissing men statue outside Kafka’s Museum; eat at Kampa Park with its gorgeous interiors and river views (sit on the terrace); take a boat trip up the Vltava river

  • Wander Mala Strana’s picturesque warren of streets, head up the hill and explore Prague Castle and the cathedral, then walk on up to Strahov Monastery, with its fragrant orchards and awesome libraries

  • Stroll to the base of Petrin hill, zip up the steep bit on the funicular to the miniature Eiffel Tower on its summit, then get lost in the quaint 19th-century mirror maze

  • Get lost in music at a classical concert in an outrageously grand church or concert hall, or dive into a jazz club for a sultry evening of superb live jazz or blues

  • Luxuriate in the hotel plunge pool and get pampered in the Ecsotica spa; there's a range of Darphin treatments and specialist massages

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Well being

Kids

Under 11s stay for free in the Junior and larger suites; cots and extra beds are available. Hapsburg splendour is not the ideal environment for young children though, and you might not feel that relaxed, although well-behaved older children will be no problem. The family suite has kitchen facilities but it has a steep wooden staircase linking the 2 rooms – not ideal for young toddlers.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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