Weekend Getaway: Prague


Weekend Getaway: Prague

By Marla Cimini

Global Living – Issue 9 | Novovember/December 2013

Whether the city of Prague is where you call home, or simply a place to visit for a fun vacation, the surrounding picturesque Czech Republic countryside is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.

Majestic castles and stunning chateaus dot the nearby landscape, each offering unique experiences for overnight guests who wish to immerse themselves in the land of fairytales. Exploring castles and chateaus in the Czech Republic is a truly special experience, and travelers can literally spend weeks getting lost in the countryside of Bohemia or Moravia.

Two standout chateaus outside of Prague not only possess a strong historical significance, but feature guestrooms that are fit for royalty – and worth an overnight visit.

Chateau Mcely

For those seeking a tranquil escape, Chateau Mcely (www.chateaumcely.com/en) is a newly-refurbished, classically beautiful, posh chateau hotel located about 50 miles from Prague. With a professional team that offers exceptional attention to detail, the chateau provides stellar service from the moment guests are greeted in the exquisite foyer and guided to one of the property’s 23 elegant-yet-modern, luxurious rooms and suites.

With expansive grounds and an on-site restaurant, the chateau offers a wide range of activities, frequently hosting family celebrations and anniversaries, as well as small, intimate conferences. It’s easy to see that the owners of the chateau, Jim and Inez Cusumano, care tremendously about nature, as well as the community. Considered beloved locals, they are committed to offering the highest level of service to their guests.

A truly eco-friendly resort, Chateau Mcely is beautifully appointed inside and out, and features a peaceful English park and a picturesque, natural bio-lake swimming pool encircled by a white sand beach. The property also boasts a well-maintained herb garden and snail farm, as well as hiking trails. Guests can enjoy summer picnics atop cushions and blankets, along with formal tea parties presented in the old aristocratic tradition. The adjacent children’s playground also contributes to the gorgeous grounds surrounding the property.

The baroque chateau has a rich history as well. Built at the end of the 17th century on the site of a former Celtic settlement above the village of Mcely, it originally served as a hunting lodge and, later, the country home for several European noble families. Today, rooms are state-of-the-art with creative names, and guests get the five-star treatment with flat screen TVs, DVD players, bathrobes and slippers, free Wi-Fi, and other amenities. A full breakfast is included as well, and the chateau offers packages that come with a complimentary BMW transfer service from Prague.

This chateau is an ideal spot for romantic weekends or girls’ getaways, and features a lovely spa with special all-natural products made from some of the herbs grown on the property. Chateau Mcely’s restaurant, Piano Nobile, is open for lunch and dinner, offering traditional Czech cuisine – and an outdoor patio overlooking the scenic gardens and surrounding landscape.

The expansive property offers some unusual features as well, and rewards guests who are curious in nature and enjoy exploring nooks and crannies. A 17th-century-style Alchemist Club is located underground in the chateau’s intimate and stylish wine cellar, holding a real surprise for guests – a 1950s-style jukebox ready to play your favorite American rock and roll hits, including the song, ‘Short Shorts’. (A nod to Cusumano’s own band that made the song famous in 1958). Upstairs in the tower, a cozy library and a rooftop observatory welcome guests who make the effort to climb some extra stairs for a big pay-off featuring a breathtaking panoramic view.

Chateau Mcely holds the highest European Union certificate for green hotels and is a member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World network.


Zbiroh Castle and Chateau 

Just 20 minutes from Prague, the legendary Zbiroh castle and chateau (www.hotel-chateau-zbiroh.com) may as well be a world away; it is perched in the charming, seemingly enchanted Křivoklát Forest, surrounded by a naturally lush landscape. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to spend the night in a castle, Zbiroh Castle’s architecture and guestroom décor truly provide an authentic feel.

A historical landmark, Zbiroh Castle was built in the 12th century and was eventually converted into the present neo-renaissance chateau. Known as the ‘Three Emperors’ Chateau’, its regal owners have included a long line of royalty, including King Ottokar II and the Emperors Charles IV, Sigismund and Rudolph II. Situated on approximately 148 acres of land, it is considered the oldest home in the Czech Republic and houses the deepest well in Europe.

An expansive property on gorgeous grounds, the chateau offers guests a magical experience and an opportunity to step back in time. Tours are available year-round, and take visitors through a vast number of salons and halls, including a gothic chapel and several wine cellars. Art lovers will enjoy the Alfons Mucha hall, with an original curtain by the world-renowned painter who spent 18 years here and painted his famous ‘Slav Epic’.

History buffs will be enthralled with the chateau’s 53 spacious guestrooms, as each has its own fascinating story to tell. For example, Alfons Mucha stayed in Apartment III, and his children slept in Apartment II.  In addition, Apartment V, which is the renaissance part of the castle, has vaulted ceilings built by the Lobkowicz family in the 16th century. Later, Rudolph II had the castle converted into a neo-Renaissance chateau, and he added the chateau wing with its ceremonial hall and chambers.

All rooms have modern amenities, including TVs and air conditioning; however, Wi-Fi is only available in the restaurant across the courtyard – the castle’s medieval-style tavern called ‘U Rudolfovy kratochvíle’. The restaurant’s medieval atmosphere with dim lighting, soaring ceilings, and heavy wooden tables and chairs complements the traditional menu offering an authentic variety of Czech specialties.

For more information about traveling to Prague, visit Czech Tourism (www.czechtourism.com).

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