Pamper in Prague: The city's best spa hotels, from cave saunas to castle views

·6 min read
Four Seasons Hotel Prague
Four Seasons Hotel Prague

Prague's alluring architecture, abundant brews and an inherently romantic atmosphere aren't its only draws; the city offers so much more and has kept up to date with European trends. The same goes for its spa hotels. What Prague might lack in terms of the natural bathing culture of a city like Budapest, its more upscale hotels have filled the gap in the market with a slew of wellness spots that offer everything from facials and massages to saunas, steam rooms and even the occasional swimming pool. While some hotels offer contemporary facilities with the latest equipment, others have made the most of their historical features, including 14th-century convent renovations or underground tunnels and caves that have been made into relaxation areas and saunas. Wherever you choose, each hotel spa has its own story to tell. Here's a pick of the best spa hotels in Prague.

This sumptuous five-star hotel's striking Neo-Renaissance building once hosted the city’s prestigious Czech Chamber of Commerce. The main draw is the attractive spa which has a gentle, Zen-style ambiance and features a small plunge pool with whirlpool tub, steam room, sauna, plus treatment rooms for massages featuring lava stones, honey and more. There are 137 rooms and suites, modern and elegantly decorated with stylish, good quality furnishings. The tall, timber-heavy Tower Suite, with its freestanding bath and upper-level lounge area, is worth considering if you’re looking for something different. There are numerous shops, cafés and restaurants all around.

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The Mandarin Oriental’s reputation for sophisticated tranquility is, if anything, amplified here by the historical aura of the host buildings, which span the gothic, Baroque and Renaissance eras. The hushed, sand-coloured interior, all stately vaulted ceilings and arched doorways, is strategically punctuated with vibrant modern artworks and sleek designer furnishings to create just the right balance of historical reverence and contemporary flair. As well as a top-notch pan-Asian restaurant and handsome bar, there’s also a state-of-the-art fitness centre and a jaw-dropping spa that's set in a 14th-century convent and offers a comprehensive range of treatments.

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The Alchymist Grand holds a commanding position on an upscale street in the Lesser Town. Much of the hotel harks back to the 1500s and interior reflects this history unashamedly, with regal public areas bedecked with period furniture. Of the facilities, the Indonesian-themed Ecsotica spa is the most noteworthy. Set in the buildings' somewhat Gothic underground passages and cellars, it features an atmospheric collection of saunas, a relaxation pool, aromatherapies, massages and facial treatments. Plush doesn't do justice to the regal nature of the rooms here; despite their modest size, they feature four-poster beds, antique writing desks, crystal chandeliers and immense gold-edged mirrors.

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Pierre-Yves Rochon re-modelled this hotel's rooms, suites and lobby, updating Frank Nicholson's original design. The classic Four Seasons feel – timeless and upscale with rich woods, marble floors and a particularly vast and ornate lobby – remains, though it's complemented by lovely flourishes like decorative cornices, tromp l'oeil and crafted stucco. The chic AVA spa is a real highlight: the Zen-like space offers a comprehensive array of treatments by Swiss Perfection, Sodashi and Omorovicza, plus a small but slick vitality pool, a couple of spa baths, separate steam and sauna rooms. The funky Cotto Crudo restaurant has grown to be one of the best Italians, if not best overall restaurants in the city.

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Set in a former Baroque palace, the rooms and public areas are both contemporary and glamorous, and the service is excellent. The palatial façade gives way to a surprisingly chic interior where regal structural touches like vaulted ceilings are matched to bold, splashy colours and carpets. The luxurious second-floor spa, created by award-winning architect Paul Woods, has a steam bath and sauna, a spacious whirlpool tub and dedicated treatment rooms for massages and body treatments. The glass-roofed Lobby Lounge atrium is a charming spot for afternoon tea, and the capacious and colourful Two Steps Bar offers comfy armchairs and decent cocktails.

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With its opulent public spaces and exquisitely designed rooms, Prague's Boscolo hotel oozes Italian-style panache. Housed inside a dramatic Neoclassical palazzo, the hotel makes a big impression on the inside too, especially its entrance hall, with its alabaster columns, friezes and grand coats of arms on the ceiling. The most impressive element of the facilities is definitely the seductive, dimly lit spa, which houses one of the largest indoor pools in Prague along with a Turkish bath and sauna. You can also get full-body massages in the treatment rooms or hop in one of the whirlpools.

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The five-star Augustine merges a historical location with some seriously sharp contemporary design, set inside a maze-like combination of buildings that once formed part of the 13th-century St Thomas Church and Monastery (a working community of Augustinian friars still live on the grounds). The facilities here are so top-notch you might not want to even venture outside. The spa offers holistic therapies and the city's only dedicated Turkish hammam. There's also an excellent restaurant and the only bar in the world where you can taste St Thomas's beer, which was first brewed by monks in 1352. The rooms blend elements of Czech cubism with tasteful traditional décor to create a kind of 'monastery chic'.

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From the polished service to a couple of in-house restaurants and downstairs spa, the hotel offers a classic set of facilities. The Wellness & Spa Centre has been overhauled and is now a more welcoming place with a sauna and cooling pool, whirlpool tub and steam room, plus massage rooms for traditional Thai treatments. The hotel has retained its distinctly Art Nouveau character inside and out, including vaulted ceilings in the lobby to the scattered assembly of golden statues and dark wooden furnishings. Even the smallest of the rooms here are spacious and comfortable, at the top of a glamorous stairway.

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With just 27 rooms and 14 suites, this is a fairly intimate hotel, with refurbished space are much brighter and punchier than older ones, with beige-and-white colour schemes broken with green-and-red curtains and cushions. Downstairs, in a cave-like basement area accidentally discovered during renovations, is the Lily spa and wellness area. Decorated with renaissance flourishes, it's a tad kitsch but has a treatment room for massages (from chocolate to Swedish), various saunas (including Finnish and Aromatherapy) and a private 'Roman-style' bath; guests can get a 30-minute free trial in the baths, and a discount on longer appointments.

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Located on a quiet street close to Prague's Old Town Square, this classy 59-room design hotel is nothing if not comprehensive. Walk out the door and you're pretty much on Old Town Square – which means direct and easy access to a dense array of bars, cafés, restaurants and key sights. Rooms and public areas are chic and luxurious, dotted with antique tables and Fleming & Howland leather sofas as well as contemporary artworks. Upstairs is The M Spa, with treatment rooms, sauna and steam room, as well as a small gym and rooftop whirlpool tub that has – just about – views of Prague Castle.

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