Prague is the big daddy of Eastern European cities, the most lauded, the most fashionable, and I feared, the most expensive. How we were going to survive three days in the venerated capital on a tight budget? The challenge seemed even more daunting when we learned our stay coincided with the world famous Prague Spring music festival. I didnâ€™t dare leave our accommodation to chance since every guidebook and website warned of old out hotels and overflowing hostels.
Because Prague had so many different areas and a staggering array of places to stay, I went to one of my most trusted sources for down-to-earth, cut-to-the-chase hotel adviceâ€”Trip Advisor. This user-generated site turned me on to the Golden Sun in Hanoi, one our absolute favorites, and I knew it had the potential to deliver a home run for Prague as well. I called up the top options in the Family Traveler category and compared the resulting list with the places mentioned in my Frommerâ€™s and Lonely Planet. I made a list of four or five top contenders. Most were hotels presented in apartment form providing small kitchenettes and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. One in particular stood out and I put about five asterisks next to it in my notebook. I sent out my now familiar email plea for help and waited for response.
Unlike Krakow, whose hoteliers and hosteliers were silent, a number of Prague proprietors extended offers to us. Much to my delight, the place that had earned so many stars in my book, the Residence Verona in the Republic Square area was also the most generous. Manager Radmila, a mother of two grown sons, was excited about our trip and eager to have us experience Prague through the lens of her Italian-owned apartment building. We opted for the Party Suite, a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment complete with kitchenette and an enormous sitting and dining area that included a couch that converted into a bed. Officially the suite sleeps 7, so for once, we were swimming in sleeping options.
We arrived in Prague per usual at the train station and made the 20-minute walk to the hotel. Situated unassumingly between a string of restaurants, hairstylists, and pharmacies, the Residence Verona blends transparently into the neighborhood we almost missed it in the dark. When we finally realized it was the beautiful edifice fronted by massive wooden doors, we rang the bell and were buzzed in through a set of glass doors to a fabulous lobby with a 20 foot ceiling and winding spiral staircase. (Mothers of mischief seekers will be glad to know that small brass knobs interrupt the banister every 9 inches or so, thus preventing anyone with designs on sliding down them from making the painful descent.)
We were welcomed by the receptionist and told to please call Radmila at our earliest convenience. She wanted to ensure that everything was to our liking and to request a brief meeting later in the week. We joined her for hot chocolate on our last full day in the city. We wanted to learn more about Prague and the Verona and she wanted to learn more about traveling with kids. She gave us valuable insights into the history of the city and the attitudes of its people and we gave herâ€¦.. well, Iâ€™m not sure what we gave her, but delightful woman that she is, she was interested in everything we had to say.
She told us that the Verona had been designed with the needs of specific groups in mind, one of them being families. Not only did the apartment afford us the space and convenience we needed for two generations of travelers, it could have accommodated a spare grandparent or two as well. As a mother, she understands that tight little European hotel rooms donâ€™t make for good family digs and welcomes extended families to stretch their many limbs at the Verona. Business travelers on extended stays in the city can also enjoy some of the comforts of home while maintaining the convenience of daily maid service and reception services.
Like the Residence Hotel in Bucharest, the Verona has an elegant, modern dÃ©cor that presents an inviting contrast to the equally refined classic structure of the building. Clean geometric designs in furnishings and light fixtures and a brown/white/beige color palette remind guests that a thoroughly modern Prague awaits outside while four inch thick, twelve foot high doors and parquet hardwood floors hearken back to an era of former glory.
The Residence Verona advertises itself as being 500 meters from the nearest subway stop, but in reality, it seems much closer. It didnâ€™t matter though, since everything we did in the city, including visiting the famed castle, the Charles Bridge, the old quarter, and Wencelas Square, we did on foot. An easy 10-15 minute walk and we were right in the heart of historic Prague. Within a single block of the Residence we had restaurants of all varieties including eclectic, Indian, and a 24-hour burrito joint. Within two blocks we had a supermarket, and within 10 we had anything and everything we could possibly need.
If youâ€™re contemplating a visit to Prague (especially if there are more than two of you), I canâ€™t imagine a better base than the Residence Verona. Send Radmila an email and let her know we sent you.