Four Seasons, Prague

Words: Charlotte Philby

Within minutes of walking through the door of the Four Seasons, Prague, a member of staff leaps at us: “Let me take that, Sir,” he says in hushed tones, prising off my husband’s jacket and giving a discreet nod towards a patch of baby drool which has crystallised around the shoulder area. A patch that, most likely, has been there several weeks. By the time we arrive at our room, in the contemporary part of the hotel – which consists of four parts: Baroque, neo-classical, neo-Renaissance and modern – and overlooking the Vltava river, the coat has been hung in the wardrobe, pristine.

Our sartorial misdemeanour soon dissolves into a distant, shameful memory, however, as we clock the bottle of chilled champagne which has been laid out alongside chocolate-dipped strawberries, in front of the window. From here, given our vantage point at the foot of the Charles Bridge in the Old Town, we are met by a skyline of beautifully dishevelled rooftops and the Castle beyond. Less than interested in the view, or the overpowering sense of history, our daughter makes a beeline for her cot which is brimming with toys.

If the hotel was trying to buy her affections then it has worked; a deal even more tightly sealed upon entry to the bathroom which, decked out with slick lighting and L’Occitane products for us, has been transformed into a narcissist’s mecca with our daughter’s name spelt out across the bath and endless organic children’s lotions and potions, and an array of rubber ducks to suit her every whim. Best of all, her very own embossed child-sized dressing gown and slippers.

Embossed dressing gowns for the kids - naturally

All things considered, it is little wonder that earlier this month when Condé Nast Traveler announced the results of its 27th annual Readers’ Choice Awards it named Four Seasons Hotel Prague as #1 in Best Hotel in Central Europe, and one of the Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World. With the classical opulence of the design and traditional features – wall-panelling, moulding, Bohemian crystal chandeliers – it certainly wouldn’t work in Miami but here, as Prague prepares for Christmas and the opening of its world-famous markets, which transform the city from 29 November, it is perfect.

If you fancy splashing some cash, call in a babysitter and try the hotel’s epic degustation menu in the lavish restaurant. We did, and the babysitter was lovely. Sadly our daughter didn’t agree when she woke up (having never met the woman, as she arrived once the child was asleep) as we tucked into the second of our 11 courses. Hearing the terror in the babysitter’s voice through the phone we returned, panting, to our room, whereupon the staff – seemingly unphased – set up a mini dining room by the bed and continued to conduct a run-down of our meal and matching wines, as our daughter snored beside us.

The bathroom has been transformed into a narcissist’s mecca with our daughter’s name spelt out across the bath

Judging by the food, which focuses on local ingredients including beetroot, wild boar and asparagus, the recent appointment of Luca De Astis as Executive Chef – having been brought in from the hotel’s sister property in Istanbul, where he had worked for several years after a career in Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, France and Spain, including Restaurant Laserre and Alain Ducasse in Paris – was a wise move.

If you’re more inclined to find your own way around the city (and not have to take out an extra mortgage), there’s a great website – kidsinprague.com, run by an ex-pat – which tells you where the nearest child-friendly restaurants and playgrounds are located. We spent a few hours absorbing the history and culture around the castle and old Jewish Quarter, with a personal guide, which cost around £50 and was worth every penny; then onto a brilliant playground in the Lesser Quarter, which is a good place to head for a relative escape from the crowds who flock to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. The Lesser Town – also known as Mala Strana – is served with plenty of wine-bars and independent shops to help wile away the hours, as well as galleries and a beautiful, incredibly tranquil walk to the top of Petřín Hill – a network of eight parks – which gives an amazing view of the city.

After an alarming Babysitter SOS, Charlotte polishes off an 11-course meal in the hotel room

If you really want to freak out the kids, a short journey into the suburbs, the Žižkov Television Tower (known as Tower Park Prague) is a bonkers testimony to the Soviet era which has to be seen to be believed. Standing 216 metres tall with sculptures of enormous crawling babies creeping up the side, at the top it offers a 360 ° perspective with themed capsules, a restaurant, bistro, and bar.

In terms of location, the hotel itself is unbeatable and while it is not a budget option, they’re offering a new Christmas Markets package from 28 November until 6 January. It includes a room upgrade, horse-drawn carriage ride around the city centre with roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, and an afternoon coffee or tea with a selection of delicious traditional Czech Christmas cookies; ending at the Old Town Square Christmas Market. The package stipulates a minimum stay of two nights, from 305. Despite the bitter temperatures in Winter, Prague really is a beautiful family option with plenty to do within a manageable area. Don’t drop your guard, though; we were nearly run over several times by over-zealous tourists on Segways, who seem to swarm the city. Also, if you can avoid bringing a buggy, do; the cobbles do not make for an easy ride.

Four Seasons Hotel Prague, Veleslavínova 2a/1098, 110 00 Praha 1; Tel. 420 221 427 000fourseasons.com/prague

Journey – 4

Ease – 4

Value – 4

Kids’ rating – 4

Adults’ rating – 5

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