Away For the Weekend / Romantic Prague

I have an embarrassing confession.  The Mister and I were alarmingly young when we married (that’s not the embarrassing confession) and didn’t have the time or money for a traditional honeymoon getaway.  The Mister graduated and became the property of the US Navy Submarine Service, reporting immediately for his first duty station.  Fourteen moves, endless deployments, work and 3 children put any thought of romantic weekends on the back burner for…26 years.  Yes.  It’s true.  We never had a weekend away without children in 26 years.  That is my embarrassing confession.  That said, I love traveling with my children, but they are off at university and graduate school and we are now empty nesters in our 40s.  Hehe.  🙂  If my children are reading this, I miss you…I truly do.

The Mister and I decided that we would absolutely make the most of our London location to travel as much as possible in the next 2 years. An extended honeymoon period per se to make up for lost time. To do this, of course, requires a keen eye for bargains or deep pockets.  I subscribe to a stunning number of travel sites that offer flash travel sales and auctions.  A personal favorite is Luxury Link  which offers a changing selection of high-end hotels and packages through either a “buy now” or “auction” model.  I purchased our Prague weekend through Luxury Link, which included a 3 night stay at the Aria Hotel (you can read my review here), car service to and from the airport, 3 course dinner in the hotel, welcome drinks, champagne and strawberries, daily breakfast and daily afternoon tea , free internet, tax inclusive for an outstanding auction rate. I always check ratings and amenities independently before considering a purchase.  Aria Hotel was highly rated. Booked. Done. We’re going to Prague.

One of the nice things about living in London (and there are many) is the proximity to a number of airports.  I’m a hot mess when I fly.  No question.  My family can’t stand to be around me pre-flight and The Mister does his best to talk me off the ledge of my flight anxiety.  I can’t even stand myself.  Sadly, flying is the only way to get to all the places I want to go, so I just torture myself and others for 24 hours pre-flight and deal. We found good value flights with Easy Jet out of Stansted and an express train from downtown London, leaving at a civilized 1:00 pm. That gave me plenty of time to work myself into a hot mess before noon.

The flight was uneventful, immigration a breeze, and we were through the gates and into Prague Airport in 20 minutes. Jacob, a Prague native, was waiting with a car and whisked us away from the airport and to our hotel in 25 minutes.  Jacob was full of local knowledge and proud of his city, as he should be. He also offered excellent advice about restaurants in Prague.

Our hotel, The Aria, is located on a quiet street below Prague Castle and a short walk from the Charles Bridge.  Merek was waiting at the desk, greeted us warmly, wished us a happy honeymoon and walked us to our room.

The hotel has a musical theme and we booked into the Kansas City suite, complete with blues playlist on the ipod dock.  The bell staff arrived shortly after we did, with strawberries and chilled champagne in hand.  Bless them.

We ditched the luggage and wandered back downstairs for Merek’s tour of the hotel and our welcome drinks (champagne for me, Czech beer for the Mister). The public spaces of the hotel have a lovely, classy art deco vibe. It has an incredible art collection (originals!), a music library, spectacular gardens, a rooftop terrace, reading library and a lovely area for breakfast, afternoon tea and lounging about.  We sat in the atrium dining area to enjoy our drinks with Merek as he gave us an overview of the city, a nice walking map and a few ideas for the evening.

My idea for the evening, as usual, involved eating.  The Aria has an excellent restaurant,Coda, frequented by locals and guests alike. We had early reservations and had our choice of tables in the cozy, romantic seating area adjacent to the piano bar.  The atmosphere was sublime, the menu was innovative, the service impeccable.  Honestly, the whole experience brought me to tears. It was perfection. The Mister and I both chose the lobster ravioli as a starter…velvety, subtle, sweet, fabulous.  I chose the pork tenderloin whilst The Mister enjoyed the beef shank goulash.  Flawless.  I was particularly interested in the Sous Vide method of cooking and asked the manager about it when he stopped to check on our meal.  He kindly explained the method and allowed me a peek into the kitchen to see for myself while dinner service was in full swing.  Thank you, Zoran Juric, for indulging me.

We finished the meal with a lovely and thoughtful surprise from the kitchen…

and an evening walk in the gardens, complete with fireworks over the river.

Part Two of our trip tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!