”The Alchymist Grand Hotel’s gorgeous marble columns and carved-stone murals seem, at a glance, to be part of the massive, similarly-styled Prague Castle that overlooks the elegant hotel. But while the Alchymist was built with the same sense of Frankish Baroque as the Czech Republic’s most famous landmark, its opulent and imperial rooms are readily available for stays by those who can afford its exclusive rates. With the hotel’s unique position nearly attached to the sprawling Prague Castle and its sense of traditional European architecture, you’d have a difficult time finding anywhere more capable of encapsulating the feeling of being amongst the nobility of Europe’s golden age – but don’t worry, they’ve still got wifi.”
By Maximilian Goldenberg, creative writer
Centered right in the almost literal beating heart of Prague, the Alchymist Grand Hotel enjoys what is probably the best location of any hotel in Prague, period. It’s less than fifteen minutes out from Prague Airport, and so close to Prague Castle and Charles Bridge that stepping outside will put you near directly at the limits of both landmarks. Prague can get a little chilly during the winters, but it’s closer to Italy than Denmark, and only gets to around 25F/-4C on average in the depths of winter. Conversely, summer months sit at a highly comfortable 70F/21C on average.
The Alchymist retains a highly traditional baroque style throughout its design, meaning gratuitous use of marble, gold, and decadent design choices that could have been picked by Louis XIV or Joseph II. Gorgeous works of baroque, neoclassical and romantic art and sculpture are used ostentatiously as ornaments, and many areas have full wall murals either carved into the stone or hung up as prolific paintings. Impressively, the hotel maintains a dedication to traditional style consistently even throughout its rooms, gym, and conference halls, minimizing instances of high technology with clever usage of color to blend in with more traditional décor. Still, it can feel somewhat strange to watch flatscreen TV in an environment so vigorously dedicated to 18th century design.
While modern years may treat servants in a much more favorable light than the kings and emperors of absolutist Europe, they’re still every bit as essential to a truly satisfying experience, a fact the Alchymist Grand Hotel is well aware of. The hotel offers a wide range of services, all of which are consistently attentive and knowledgeable, even for five star standards. All expected services operate to a high standard – concierges are consistently helpful, shuttles run on time, room service is quick, and maids keep the place sparkling. Beyond the basics, butlers and attendants are prevalent throughout the hotel, and higher-end suites can expect private services at their beck and call.
There’s a fairly standard quantity of rooms available for an inner-city hotel of the Alchymist’s caliber, coming in at 26 rooms and 19 suites in all. While each room has a slightly different design and feel – the family suites in particular take interesting hints from Arabian and Roman designs, including angled ceilings and neoclassical furnishings – none of them break from the overarching baroque theme of the hotel. To that extent, every room offered is incredibly decadent, with even the smallest offered room being an impressive 33m2, including a queen-sized four-post bed, a full marble bathroom, gold-plated décor, and a crystal chandelier. If the Deluxe Rooms sound like the height of opulence, remember that it’s the least expensive of your nine options, and they only get more impressive.
Our favorite accommodation:
It’s fitting that the hotel’s titular Alchymist suite is one-of-a-kind in the hotel, staying here gives the very distinct feeling of being a monarch. At 80m2, the Alchymist suite feels quite a lot like the private chambers of a modern-day King or Queen, with a gorgeous covered king-sized bed, a private study and living room, a large balcony over the similarly beautiful courtyard, and a truly enormous bathroom. Even with the massive flatscreen in the living room and the heated floors of the bathroom, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the twenty-first century when surrounded by the utterly captivating designs sculpted into every nook of the ceilings and walls, some of which seem straight out of Versailles.
Our second choice:
The Tower Suite is a very close second to the Alchymist Suite, and better for families who need an extra bedroom. The Tower Suite’s slightly smaller space (70m2) caters mostly to families but offers nearly the same positively noble experience the Alchymist does. The second bedroom is outfitted with a personal observatory overlooking St. Nicholas Church, and the main bedroom has a Jacuzzi-style bathtub within the room itself, ensuring that family stays don’t neglect the romance of their surroundings.
The natural romance of the Alchymist’s overwhelmingly beautiful design can be draw enough, but there are quite a few benefits for romantic couples looking to take up in the Grand Hotel. A dedicated event planning service, the sprawling Crystal Ballroom, and the Mirror Gallery’s large banquet room make wedding planning effortless, and the hotel itself offers numerous special deals and services to honeymooners and newlyweds, from a catered and discounted romantic package to a special eight-hour treatment session at the spa for couples. The only potential negative is the presence of children, but with only 45 total rooms and a location in the center of Prague, you’re all but guaranteed for uninterrupted romance.
Food and Drinks:
The Alchymist’s status as an inner-city hotel means that having a wide selection of restaurants isn’t nearly as important as it is for most luxury retreats, but that doesn’t mean that they slack on their food service. To the contrary, the main venue on hotel grounds is the Aquarius, which serves a la carte meals that match the lavish design of the hotel itself with rich and regal cuisine. The menu is varied but firmly European, centering around Czech, Italian, and Greek cuisine, with hints from France and Germany. Admittedly, nothing served is quite as over-the-top as the hotel’s gold and marble, but the Aquarius’ delicious and elegant uses of fowl, fish, and pasta still make for a lordly experience. The hotel also features the lovely Café Barocco Veneziano, which emulates the trademark Florentine style of the cafés that once spawned the Enlightenment, and an impressive lobby bar that hosts a daily complimentary wine and cheese tasting from 16:00 to 17:00.
Most of the Alchymist’s waterworks come from their spa and fountains, but there is a full indoor swimming pool on the grounds. While it’s not terribly large, the pool is always well-maintained and more than sufficient for doing laps or lounging around. Ultimately, it’s not a major feature of the hotel.
The Escotica Spa is the hotel’s major on-site attraction, and it far more than makes up for the average pool and singular on-site restaurant. The Spa has five full treatment rooms, one dedicated exclusively to couples and offers thirty-two different kinds of treatments, including ten varieties of massage, one of which is a signature style exclusive to the Escotica. The Escotica is the one place that breaks from the staunchly baroque style of the rest of the hotel through the incorporation of oriental elements, but it does so to great effect, and both styles work to provide an atmosphere of complete relaxation. The Escotica provides a truly impressive variety of services – it’s telling that their longest and most expensive ritual, the Top to Toe, barely encompasses an eighth of the treatments offered despite requiring a full six hours to complete. The break from European-style baroque makes a good deal of sense inside the Escotica, since the spa offers treatments from nearly every corner of the world. Quite a few of their massages and procedures come from China and Japan, some styles of massage and therapy hail from Scandinavia, and even more exotic procedures come out of Polynesia. The more expensive and intensive services, such as their signature anti-aging procedure, incorporate elements from every corner of the earth; the anti-aging treatment takes hints from Israel, Japan, and Latin America to provide a true flagship experience. The attached gym is impressive enough in its own right and has everything you’d expect from a modern fitness facility, but the true attraction of the Escotica, and perhaps of the Alchymist itself, is its genuinely exceptional spa.
Kids, pets, and accessibility (Restrictions):
The Alchymist’s centered design and large amount of staff make it a solid choice for almost all guests, though there are no special accommodations for wheelchairs. Children of all ages are allowed and pets are allowed on request, though there may be fees for some animals.
Children of all ages are permitted at the Alchymist, and there’s no additional fee for them. Additionally, the hotel itself provides a comprehensive babysitting service, making it easy to explore the spa or Prague itself while travelling with a larger family. The Alchymist mostly focuses on couples, but the fact it accepts children at all makes it an attractive option if you’re travelling with a young family.
Activities and attractions:
As with any inner-city destination, there’s more to do around the Alcyhmist than we could possibly cover in this section, particularly with the hotel being located at the veritable city center. That being said, being in a historic district doesn’t mean you’ll need to drive halfway across Prague to find what makes the Czech Republic’s capital city so special. The single restaurant on the Alchymist’s grounds makes a lot more sense when you realize that Prague has over forty Michelin-starred restaurants within the city limits, and four Michelin-starred restaurants within five minutes of the hotel. Spices, a Michelin-starred Oriental restaurant and bar, is less than a minute’s walk from the Alchymist. Luxury shopping in everything from designer boutiques to fine jewelry can be found on Pařížská street, less than ten minutes away, and Prague’s extremely vibrant clubbing scene is active in every direction, with the hottest scenes like the M1 Lounge and Zlaty Strom being within ten minutes.
For more sophisticated entertainment, the National Theater is five minutes out from the Alchymist and the State Opera is fifteen, with interesting museums and galleries being so prevalent that it’d be nearly impossible to list them all – the hotel is literally across the street from Prague’s famous KGB museum. Let’s not even get into historical landmarks; the Alchymist sits in the center of Old Town, nearly attached to Prague Castle and right above St. Nicholas Church. You couldn’t explore all the history within ten minutes of the Alchymist in a year. Balloon Adventures even operates a hot air balloon operation out of Prague, meaning the only thing you can’t really get from the Alchymist is yachting. That’s probably understandable, given that Prague is landlocked in the middle of Central Europe.
The Deluxe Rooms start at €194 ($225) a night in low season and €383 ($445) in high season. The Alchymist is a popular and highly rated hotel, and its prices reflect that – though they aren’t nearly as high as most full retreats.
”The Alchymist, in many ways, represents what we think of as the ideal hotel. Styled in opulent marble and gold on all sides and surrounded by stunning works of art in a prestigious and storied European capital, the Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa serves as a fine example of the hotel’s hotel. It’s an arch-typical hotelier experience, designed for those who want to experience Prague at its fullest or simply appreciate the pure elegance of a well-designed hotel. Everything that a hotel should be, the Alchymist gleefully provides in spades. Its genuine class earns it a high recommendation; it’s a hotel that sets out to make you feel like a king, and it does its job very, very well.”