Four Seasons, Prague
Room type: River Suite
Duration: 2nd > 5th March, 2017
Booked with: Direct with hotel
Offer: 3 for 2
When something starts badly and ends badly, you’re either talking about a summary of my relationship with my mother or a reflection of Four Seasons Prague. That’s not to say there were never any good moments in between, but when you come into this world and get met with hate, it’s hard to recover from that. There’s sometimes this feeling that you’re just not good enough, that you’re not wanted, that you were an accident. That no matter what happens, it will always be this way. Sorry, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, the Four Seasons.
The best things in life are left to the last minute; the hero saves the day; the winning goal in the 95th minute; getting the last winning auction bid in; fleeing a country, never to return, after the police catch you selling weapons to the local mobs in order to pay for your Four Seasons suite. And, of course, booking a hotel. I ended up booking it directly on fourseasons.com just 24 hours prior to arrival, as AMEX are not as omnipotent as I once thought they were and were unable to match the Four Seasons stay 3, pay 2 deal. Those guys ask me to realise my potential, but they can’t even book a hotel room, so what hope do I have of achieving anything?
A 20 minute journey from Prague airport, which will cost you a €10 Uber ride, or the FS could collect you in the same car for €100. I’ll leave you a minute to think about which one you want to go for.
Welcome back to the review. I hope you enjoyed your time away to contemplate whether spending 10x more on the same thing was worthwhile for you. If you decided that the Four Seasons option suited you better, please send your next pay cheque to I Have No Common Sense, PO Box 1234, England.
The Four Seasons, Prague, is in a perfect location. You have 2 key benefits: 1) The river view and 2) Being so close to the centre. Both of these offer you the same upside: knowing that once you have experienced the freight of the coldness of the spa, you can just warm up by jumping in the river. Plus having the faith that the restaurants nearby are twice as good and half the price as CottoCrudo, the main restaurant.
Everyone deserves second chances and luckily we were feeling in a genial mood. After not being able to find an email address anywhere on the FS website, my partner used their contact form to ask them to setup the room. Instead of emailing, as apparently Four Seasons customers are allergic to it and come out in massive rashes if they use it, they phoned to talk through what she wanted. This obviously left no written trace at all. NASA once lost a $125m piece of metal due to using the wrong measurement units, so if those guys can’t even manage to get it right when they do write it down, what hope was there for the Four Seasons? I need to set my expectations correctly, as when arriving and finding absolutely nothing in place, I only had myself to blame for thinking they would do it. Ignoring that minor detail, the included amenities were non-existent and just included 2 very small bottles of water. We were right next to a river that once flooded, so they took revenge and implemented a water shortage in the hotel. Take that, river! Now who’s laughing?!
Upon speaking to reception the next day about the entire room being setup in such a sparse way that only Gollum would have appreciated it, we also enquired if they had any better rooms available. For brevity (AKA laziness) I will not discuss the original room, a Renaissance Room, only to say I last felt this bad when my first pet hamster died and I cried for a month. The only available room was a River Suite, which we asked for a tour on, had a bit of haggle on the price and then duly accepted. Things were starting to look up.
The suite was beautiful, with excellent interiors let down only by the archaic bathroom. But really, what you’re paying for here is the views, helped by the large glass windows in the bedroom, hallway and living room that look out onto Prague Castle and unsurprisingly the river. No views were to be found in the guest or main bathroom, other than the look of horror that I saw in my own reflection at the decor.
The suite offered so much natural light into every area that your mood is instantly lifted to levels Scientologists could only dream of. Even the living room, that I visited for all 15 seconds, felt at least like somewhere I would want to spend 30 seconds. Sure, having a living room is handy, but only if you ever intend on using it, which is something I failed to think of when paying for the upgrade. Even so, was it worth the price of the upgrade? Hells to the yes. Will I tell you how much extra we got it for? No to the hells. Could I compare the interiors and overall feel to my beloved Connaught? Why not. Should I stop asking questions I already know the answer to? Definitely.
The shower was particularly impressive, with the most simple system I’ve ever seen: one button for the shower head, one for the portable shower and a temperature control. Why bother with water pressure when all I ever want is the highest setting?
Perhaps the only negative is the lack of plugs anywhere, including those by the desk needing you to move the desk to actually plug anything in. Oh, and of course the classic Four Seasons Internet limitations, where they feel the free Internet is more than sufficient, even though it hasn’t been since 2002. If you want faster connection speed, pay €20 with no guarantee that it will be much better.
- CottoCrudo restaurant with bar
This was the clincher in deciding between the Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental. The Mandarin have this terrible habit of separating their spa facilities between the different sexes, meaning I’m left to sit in a bubbling pool either alone or with some guy called Fat Bob that has a tattoo strikingly similar to my face near his groin. Don’t judge me, but spending more than 15 minutes away from my girlfriend is known to cause mild cases of death. So with the Mandarin looking out of the picture, the Four Seasons became the clear winner when it was clear they not only had a vitality pool, but that it was designed for people with and without trouser snakes.
Yet in a worlds first, the vitality pool was 32C, which was simply far too cold – they should be 35C and above, no excuses. Leonardo DiCaprio suffered less at the end of Titanic than I did when entering that pool. Making sure this wasn’t some freak accident, like I experienced only a few days prior at Whatley Manor, I asked at reception it was always this temperature and they said yes. Next day I went down and asked someone else and they said it was 28C. From my large and extensive survey I carried out across 4 people during a 15 second investigation, we all agreed it was too cold and it made it pointless. As usual, I was right.
First I go to Fullerton Bay and order a Jacuzzi room, only for the jacuzzi to be a non-heated bath with bubbles, so I learnt to ask if the jacuzzi can be heated going forward; now I know to ask if the hydrotherapy pool/vitality pool is heated too. I had never thought to ask as the point of it is to relax, which is surprisingly difficult when you’re shivering.
This is the new alternative. The modern vision of luxury. A spa that is truly beautiful, but services no purpose beyond being an architectural masterpiece. They probably give massages using only kind words, just to be different.
Just minutes from the hotel, you can find the Charles Bridge, a tourist hotspot that is recommended as a jogging route, but should be recommended as a sprinting route as otherwise you will still get harassed and likely robbed. Luckily English tourists did their research and use segways to escape the highly evolved Czech beggers.
We arrived too late on the first night and left too early on the last to have tried much beyond 2 breakfasts and 1 dinner. The breakfast buffet was ok without being spectacular, but the a la carte offering complimented it to give ample choice. Dinner was ok, yet we all felt overpriced compared to other offerings in Prague. George, a steak restaurant, is just 2 minutes walk away and was far superior. I would not dine here again.
It’s always hard to recover from that initial disappointment of getting to a hotel late at night, only to find nothing is setup as you asked. Moving to a suite went someway to helping overcome that, as well as their response, where they took the complaint very seriously. The lack of water was taken so seriously, that upon moving to our new suite we discovered there was enough water to have prevented the Californian droughts. They still did not decide to add any extra amenities, such as additional food, but then I’m sure if I asked they would have done something.
It is hard for me to give a detailed analysis, as I had so few interactions with any staff, down to my absence more than theirs. The concierge were very friendly and professional and there are some nice touches that should not go unappreciated; the elevator doors always being open on the ground floor, thus removing the never-ending waiting that goes on; the coffee near the elevators that you can help yourself to; the level of English, even from the housekeeping, that far surpassed anything we experienced in Paris just a few weeks prior.
The service was, overall, completely professional, but they were ~50% occupied and we were in their 3rd best suite, so perhaps some better recognition would have been nice.
Some idiot decided a 7am flight on a Sunday morning was a good idea, so a 5am departure was in order. Naturally the most simple of tasks was requested: please collect our luggage and whatever you do, do not knock on the joining room. Don’t do it. Do. Not. Do. It. I said it with such ferocity that speech bubbles came out of my mouth as I said it. So of course he knocked on the wrong room and woke up my girlfriends parents. When staying in an Aman, you are given a leaving present, yet the Four Seasons was more of a leaving penalty.
My girlfriend later realised the bill was wrong and they had not offered the 3rd night free. This is why my dad gave me 2 pieces of advice growing up: always check the bill and get regular STI checks. He wasn’t wrong. So I emailed the FS – about the bill, not STI – to which they replied almost immediately that they would refund me and 48 hours later that sweet coin sat in my bank account once more.
Whilst out touring Prague, we coincidentally walked past the MO, so went in for lunch and also saw 5 of their rooms, including the penthouse. Even before realising the vitality pool at the FS made the spa area pointless, we both agreed that the MO was a more spectacular hotel, with better rooms, better cuisine and a more modern feel, albeit one without the river views. The penthouse was advertised as €2600/n and with a stay 3, pay 2 offer on, 3 nights here would still be about a 3rd of the price for a similar sized suite in London.
- Service recovery
- Service mishaps
- Price, in relation to other Prague properties
- The views
The Four Seasons may be the best hotel in Prague (it probably isn’t), but it doesn’t make it a great hotel. It was good enough that I wouldn’t start a bar fight if I had to go again, but not good enough to consider it without very good reason. If it were a student, it would be one that never achieved anything, but was never bad enough to be sent to the headmaster; you probably knew someone just like this, someone who’s name you could barely even remember, but just about knew he existed. Average to the extreme, without ever being succeeding or failing.
Great review! Had booked the Jacuzzi Room at Fullerton Bay in December as well. Though, I knew it wasn’t heated, I was still disappointed. Somehow.
Booked two clients to MO Prague and will send them your review for a boost of confidence.
A good read as always. We recently stayed at the MO Prague and could not fault it. So good, so good. Everything from the room upgrade and choice of rooms, the service, the arrival and departure was exceptional.