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King Charles Boutique Residence (Prague, Czech Republic)

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Address: Neklanova 34 / 128 00 Praha 2 / Praha / Czech Republic

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      23.12.2008 12:42
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      A nice place to stay for the price we paid: lovely room, but the facilities let the place down.

      ***This is my first attempt at a hotel review so I hope I've covered everything!***

      I've wanted to go to Prague for YEARS and finally got my wish a couple of weeks ago when my boyfriend and I went over for three nights to get into the Christmas spirit with mulled wine and gingerbread. I'd thoroughly recommend the city for a short break, but this review is about our hotel.

      We booked through lastminute.com, and it came down to a choice between the King Charles and a very modern plate-glass-and-red-Perspex type edifice that was only built in 2007. We decided to go with the King Charles as I thought it looked a little bit grand and Gothic and atmospheric and was more in-keeping with the 'feel' of Prague. I'm not one for all mod-cons. It was listed a four-star hotel but it was on offer so we paid only about £25 each per night.

      When we received our confirmation email, the hotel reception also offered to come and collect us from the airport for a one-way fee of around £24. After research concluded that airport taxis are extortionate; and we'd have to get the metro and two trams if we took public transport; and we'd be arriving in at about 9pm, we decided to take them up on their offer. I sent an email with only two days to spare and received a response straight back to say no problem, there'll be a man in arrivals with your name on a card. And there was. Although it was a lot more expensive than the public transport option, and was a bit hair-raising at times (as taxis on the continent tend to be), it was so convenient that we booked a return transfer for on the way home as well.

      We walked through the gigantic wooden doors and into the reception lobby where we were greeted by the very pleasant and helpful man on reception. He was also, strangely, the ONLY person we saw on reception in our four days there, whatever time of the day or night we passed through. One of the first things I noticed in the public areas of the hotel was the prints adorning the red walls of the staircase (if you're not familiar with the work of HR Giger, a quick Google Image search should give you an idea). Well, there's Gothic and then there's just disturbing. The next thing I noticed about the public areas of the hotel was, er, that there weren't any. There was a display cabinet in the reception lobby containing full-size bottles of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which I presumed could be bought, and a coffee machine that looked like it would produce something hot and black but not very nice. There were some French doors leading out to a small courtyard furnished with a couple of chairs and tables; it was obviously too cold at this time of year to enjoy this, but even in the summer I can't imagine it gets much sun as it was such a small, enclosed space. We found the lack of a bar quite annoying, particularly as it was winter, as we found we didn't want to be wandering around town in the cold and dark, but if we went back to the hotel at 8pm, we had to just sit in the room watching the news.

      It transpired that my boyfriend had booked a twin room, thinking that this meant two double beds, but when we made it up to the fourth floor, staggering and breathless from not having spotted the well concealed lift by the staircase, we saw that he was mistaken. The room was large with a very luxurious looking marble-esque bathroom and two very large, carved dark wood, single beds. Unfortunately, due to the ornate nature of the carved bed frames, there was no way we'd be able to (ahem) push them together (well, it WAS supposed to be a romantic holiday!), so I trotted off back downstairs to see if any doubles were available. One was, but the man seemed concerned that it wasn't very big. When I had a look however, because it was smaller it was actually a lot warmer than the other, and I spied an exciting looking power shower with lots of buttons and nozzles which the other room lacked so I made the executive decision to move. The view from the first floor was over a small yard and the door to some kind of utility room, but the view from the other room had only been across the tram lines to the motorway anyway so we weren't too bothered.

      The hotel was fine about the swap and we were soon ensconced in our little abode, exploring the facilities. There was a small widescreen TV in the corner which offered various international channels, the only ones of which I recognised were MTV, BBC World News and CNN. A laminated card found in a drawer told us that by arrangement at reception we could also access a number of premium channels - sports, films and I don't know what the bare-breasted lady could be advertising, but I wasn't sure it was prudent to have her picture potentially within such easy reach of children - it could have been a bit more discrete. The internet could also be accessed through the TV, again by paying at reception. There was a small minibar which wasn't too expensive, but only stocked one of each thing, so if you wanted more than one drink then you'd have to mix them and it might all get a bit messy! The bed was lovely and large and the blankets were more like big flat pillows, so very warm and cosy even in December. The room was also equipped with a hairdryer and tea-making facilities, although, crucially, no kettle.

      The bathroom was very luxurious I thought and I enjoyed my posh shower very much. It was quite cramped in the little cubicle though and I banged my elbows a few times. My poor 6'5" boyfriend had to sit on the little seat as he literally did not fit standing up. There was a heated towel rail which I got a bit excited about, but plugging it in before getting into the shower didn't allow it enough time to heat up so it was a bit of an anti-climax in the end.

      The bathroom and the room as a whole were very clean - the room was cleaned and the towels replaced every day. At one point I dropped my ring under the bed and while raking around for it I pulled out an empty Bacardi bottle and an empty coke bottle (and I could hear others clinking about under there too), but I feel this is more of a reflection on the scutty previous occupants putting them under the bed and not in the bin in the first place rather than the cleaning staff.

      We were staying on a bed and breakfast basis so in the morning we made our way down to the basement breakfast room and sat down at a table. No-one came to us so I went into a side room to investigate. It turned out this was the kitchen and this was where all the food was to be found. I have to say that although there was a good choice of the usual continental breakfast stuffs (cereal, fruit, yoghurts, bread, ham and cheese...), the fact that you had to boil your own kettle and toast your own bread, and having to jostle with the other guests in the cramped space to do so, gave the place a distinctly Youth Hostel feel. Some of the other guests had eggs and bacon, but I think you had to pop into the main kitchen to ask for this, no-one came to take an order from us, and I felt a bit uncomfortable doing this. In fact we felt a bit uncomfortable with the whole arrangement, so we just had some coffee and muesli on the first day and for the rest of our stay opted to go into town and get coffee and a croissant in a café.

      The hotel looks quite far from the town centre on a map but it's only about a 20 minute amble. The area it's in didn't look too salubrious as far as I could tell, but I think it's difficult to tell what's normal and what's dodgy in a country you've never been to before. We walked into town once but for the rest of the time opted to take the tram as it was so cheap and convenient. The stop was located just under a railway bridge about 2 minutes' walk from the hotel, not a walk I'd like to do alone I have to say.

      I don't mean for this to be a bad review, because my experience of the hotel was absolutely fine, but there were just a few things about it that could have been better. My boyfriend, although he enjoyed our stay too, did feel very misled by the pictures on the website and its four-star rating on lastminute.com.

      This has turned into a bit of an epic so thanks for reading if you've made it this far!

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    • Product Details

      Bringing the contemporary needs to their guests, King Charles Boutiue hotel is a renovated century old building. The rooms boast exquisite hardwood flooring and antique reproductions furniture.