Like a slice of its world-famous, succulent ham gingerly placed between two slices of rustic artisan brown bread liberally smeared with spicy mustard, my flight to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is sandwiched between two other outbound flights from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport to Cairo and Berlin.
I’m airborne — passenger 12F — and cruising toward the starting point of a much-anticipated, seven-day press trip tailored especially for me and my band of merry media — 26 international travel writers and photographers — who’ve been invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to experience a portion of its premium-escorted Bohemian Rhapsody journey to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, along with a few colorful stops in between.
Notorious for flight delays and lost luggage claims, my Alitalia (Always Late In Takeoffs And Landings, If Available) flight is surprisingly on schedule and lands safely at Václav Havel Airport, and where my easy-to-spot, bright Pacific blue, medium-sized suitcase is the lead piece of baggage onto the carousel. Whew!
Only a 90-minute flight from Caput Mundi, but worlds away in terms of language, history, art, architecture and cuisine, I’m met outside the terminal by Insight’s local car service and whisked away in a spotless, shiny, late-model Mercedes sedan for a comfortable, half-hour ride into Prague’s historic center and dropped off curbside in front of the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel (the Palace), Insight’s five-star property.
The perfect place to jumpstart a rhapsody in the very heart of Bohemia, the Palace, an early 20th century property that oozes understated elegance and luxury fit for a Habsburg prince or princess, is ideally positioned along the cobble of exciting Prague and just a leisurely stroll in all directions to the major sites of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-protected historic center: Wenceslas Square, the State Opera House, the National Museum, iconic Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter and Old Town Square.
Following a friendly, efficient and fast check-in, my luggage is already on the elevator before I can say Děkuji (Thank you in Czech) as I ride up to the seventh floor and make my way down the red-and-gold carpeted corridor to #717 and my spacious executive-size room that’ll be my temporary abode for the next three days while I’m in the capital of Bohemia.
Evidently, the hotel knew that I was coming, but instead of baking a cake they treated me to a plate of chocolates and fruit sitting on a side table, fronting the large, king-size bed and spacious work desk.
With an array of complimentary amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel, the Palace provides its guests with internet access (WIFI and LAN); satellite television; Cararra marble bathrooms; soft, oversized, fluffy-white towels; bottles and bars of ALDA Nature Philosophy body lotions, soaps and haircare products; comfortable robes and slippers; an Italian espresso machine (how did they know?); nightly turndown service; a daily breakfast buffet in L’Epoque Restaurant fit for a king; fine dining in Club Gourmet and casual dining and bar service in Café Palace; and, the use of the hotel’s sauna.
In short, I’ve got absolutely nothing to complain about at the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel, and I haven’t yet thrown back the duvet on the bed.
Now into my second piece of chocolate and a fresh, juicy strawberry — I know, I shouldn’t talk with my mouth full — I think I’ll unpack, take a look around and investigate the Palace further, then hit the cobble in search of some authentic Czech cuisine and a pint or two of Prague’s finest: Pilsner Urquell.
For complete information on Insight Vacations’ premium and luxury-escorted itineraries, including the Bohemian Rhapsody and 100 other journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you bright and early tomorrow morning in the middle of Wenceslas Square, as we watch the sun come up and Praha come alive.
Na zdraví! (Cheers!)
©The Palladian Traveler