Prague’s winter wonderland

With its exuberant beer gardens and lively riverside there’s nothing quite like Prague in the summertime – except maybe Prague in the wintertime. A premier destination for memorable holiday magic, the Czech capital was even voted as having the best Christmas market in the world by ‘USA Today’ in 2014. For anyone seeking an enchanted winter getaway, complete with all the sights, scents and sounds of the season, a stay in Prague this time of year should be top of your list.

There isn’t a more convenient base for exploring the city’s Christmas markets than Hotel Paris Prague, a 5-star luxury accommodation known for its landmark art nouveau facade and desirable city centre location. The palatial early 20th century building, which offers 86 spacious and elegant guest rooms as well as several luxury suites and apartments, is less than a five-minute walk from Prague’s most famous Christmas market in Old Town Square.

Beginning in late November and running through the first week of the New Year, the Old Town Square market is an event not to be missed. It’s the very essence of Central European Christmas cheer, offering food and drink, entertainment, shopping, and merriment all in one stunning historic location.

Taking centre stage here is an impressive tree imported from the forests of Bohemia that’s illuminated each evening at dusk. Surrounding the tree are numerous wooden stands selling gingerbread, gifts, and mulled wine – the unmistakable aroma lending the market a special ambience. Live nativity scenes and carol singing contribute to the holiday atmosphere.

While the Old Town has been recognised as having one of the world’s best holiday markets, the Czech capital boasts a number of other Christmas markets many of them also within walking distance of Hotel Paris Prague. The stalls at Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square) are a smaller and yet no less festive alternative allowing visitors to sample roasted chestnuts or Czech sausage and beer or buy traditional straw or glass ornaments. Nearby, the markets along Prague’s most well known boulevard, Wenceslas Square, offer the added appeal of Christmas shopping in a more modern setting, amid a number of international flagship stores.

Visitors to the Czech capital during this time will also be able to experience the traditional fish markets, where vendors selling carp from giant tubs are an essential part of the Czech Christmas experience.

Aside from the cinnamon-scented and beautifully-lit market stalls of Yuletide Prague, visitors will also want to take in the sounds of the holiday season. Hotel Paris Prague is conveniently located next to the grand Obecní dům (Municipal House) where a series of holiday concerts by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and regular art exhibitions add a touch of culture to any itinerary. Performances of The Nutcracker ballet take place at the Hybernia Theatre adjacent to the hotel.

Warm up and eat well

Once it’s time to come in from the chill, there’s no better place to warm up than in one of Hotel Paris Prague’s fine dining options. Enjoy a Parisian coffee, wide selection of teas, or warming whisky or cognac amid the art nouveau splendour of the Café de Paris, inspired by the Belle Époque coffee houses of the French capital. Also serving soups, small plates and breakfast, it’s an ideal venue for starting your day or recharging with lunch.

Before heading out to explore the Christmas markets by night, sit down to a meal of seasonal specialties, Czech classics or continental French fare at the Sarah Bernhardt Restaurant. Here executive chef Karel Hynek sends out a hearty winter menu characterised by local game and fish dishes paired with sommelier-selected wines from Moravia, as well as from the Bordeaux region.

All of the hotel’s rooms are designed for optimal comfort with heated bathroom floors and individually adjustable heating. Stand-outs include the colourful Mucha Suite (40 sqm), inspired by the iconic Czech painter, which combines Bohemian style with an unforgettable view of medieval Prague. Then there’s the romantic Tower Suite (50 sqm) with its panoramic city centre view from the terrace, perfect for looking out onto the dazzling Christmastime Czech capital – a view made even more appealing by a dusting of snow.

The ideal way to unwind from a day of holiday shopping in the bustling markets of old Prague is in the hotel’s Wellness Spa Centre, where pampering massages and a sauna offer guests the ultimate indulgence.

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