Among the Gothic spires of the Czech Republic’s Bohemian capital, where even a casual stroll is a visual treat, there’s a thriving modern shopping, dining and arts scene

With its colourful jumble of architectural styles spanning a thousand years, gold-tipped towers and verdigris cupolas, splendid vistas and cobblestones, Prague has the requisite looks of an old-world archetype. Despite having stood in for Paris, Vienna and London in countless films, when viewed up close its charms are very much its own. Thanks to Prague’s compact size, shopping is easily navigated on foot. Parížská (‘Paris’) Street in the Old Town, a tree-lined boulevard of ornate Art Nouveau façades, is where to find designer boutiques, including Cartier, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Agent Provocateur and Tiffany & Co. Those popping the question in Prague – as many do – should visit local jeweller Halada, Studio Sperk for Czech garnets, and Gioia. Nearby Dušní Street is the heart of the (tiny) Fashion District, with home-grown labels Klara Nademlynska, Timoure et Group and Tatiana.

Shopping list

The Artel design store on Celetná street in the Old Town The Czech Republic is famous for its handmade crystal, but those in the know frequent only a few glassmakers. Moser has lead-free crystal in luminous hues in its flagship store; the two Artel boutiques offer modern designs created by founder and style guru Karen Feldman; and Preciosa and Lasvit sell show-stopping chandeliers. Auction house Dorotheum is a must for antique glass and porcelain, while Antique, Kaprova 12, has the finest selection of jewellery set with local Bohemian garnets.


City sights

Historic Malá Strana Nestled in Malá Strana, Prague’s oldest and most picturesque district on the left bank of the Vltava River, Mandarin Oriental, Prague has many iconic sights within easy reach – the 14th-century Charles Bridge, the Baroque St Nicholas Cathedral and Prague Castle which towers overhead. The Castle, a city within a city, is worth exploring for its extraordinary architecture; sights include St Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace. The Lobkowicz Palace, on the Castle’s eastern side, includes works by Canaletto, Bruegel the Elder and Velázquez, as well as original scores by Beethoven and Mozart. Crossing Charles Bridge into the Old Town is Old Town Square, a vast plaza encircled by burghers’ houses, palaces and a Gothic cathedral anchored by the Old Town Hall’s tower with its medieval Astronomical Clock. Crowds gather here on the hour to watch the centuries-old spectacle of 12 rotating Apostles, ending with a death knell and golden rooster’s crow. Nearby is the former Jewish Quarter, with the Old-New Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Jewish Museum and a synagogue inscribed with 80,000 Holocaust victims’ names.

Where to dineSpices Restaurant & Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Prague features regional Asian fare, delicious cocktails and teas

Romancing the arts

Contemporary exhibits at Museum Kampa The city that embraced Mozart has three opera houses, two ballet companies and three symphony orchestras, the Czech Philharmonic being the preeminent body. Book a plush box at the State Opera, Estates Theatre or National Theatre. The art scene has had a revival in recent years. Museum Kampa puts on quality exhibitions, as does the Rudolfinum Gallery across the river. Somewhat edgier is the art scene in Holešovice, where old factory buildings are being converted into galleries and studios. The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art also stages shows, which are often provocative.

Green and pleasant

Map of Prague Among the abundance of greenery in the city centre, Petrín Hill offers miles of trails and vistas at every step. A flatter, still scenic, option is Kampa Park and the Vltava riverside. Malá Strana is dotted with beautiful formal gardens, open from April to October. A different perspective opens up on the Vltava, where the Prague Boats boating company has sightseeing trips year-round.

Relax in style The award-winning Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Prague is in a former Renaissance chapel

Leisure time

A suite for couples in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Prague If walking on the quaint cobblestones has taken its toll, the award-winning Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Prague, located in a former Renaissance chapel, provides a divine 90-minute pedicure. It includes a reflexology foot massage and a warm wrap to seal in moisture.

Fine taste

Spices Restaurant & Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Prague

For a taste of Asia, Spices Restaurant & Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Prague features regional Asian fare, delicious cocktails and unconventional teas all served Asian family-style in the middle of the table. Authentic Czech food is served with retro ambience at Olympia, while Field restaurant offers a molecular take on Bohemian flavours. Chef Riccardo Lucque's La Finestra is a popular Italian eatery, while Bellevue and Fred & Ginger, in Frank Gehry's 'Fred and Ginger' building, have stunning vistas. Partake in Prague's proud café tradition at Café Savoy, with its tall windows, ornate ceiling and delicious cakes, or at the Slavia across the river, which has a stylish Deco interior, great views and sumptuously filled crêpes.


Social scene

Spices Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Prague

While delicious Asian-themed cocktails can be found at the Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Prague, Bar and Books, all red leather seats and dark wood panelling near Old Town Square, is the destination for whisky aficionados, and the Hemingway Bar for 200 rums and premium absinthe. Other options include newly opened L'Fleurs or traditional stalwart Bugsy’s.

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