Spa Hopping: Four Unique Hotel Spas in Prague

m-spa-prague-whirlpool[Image: Courtesy of The Emblem Hotel]Spa traditions date back centuries in the Czech Republic. Throughout the country, waters from local thermal and cold mineral springs made Bohemia one of the most popular destinations for “taking the cure.” Today, visitors still flock to the country’s famous spa towns, from Karlovy Vary to Teplice, to seek the waters’ healing abilities. Although the spa houses—stunning examples of Art Nouveau, Neo Renaissance and neoclassical architecture—have evolved to include relaxation wrapped into wellness, the approach can still be a bit clinical. So for a truly pampering experience, spa-goers head to Prague.

The spas here inhabit distinctive settings amid the capital city’s famed historic architecture, adding designers’ own unique takes. Combined with luxurious indulgence, a wide array of treatments and a fairytale setting, Prague is one of the best contemporary spa towns in the Czech Republic.

AVA Spa at Four Seasons Prague

Located in the city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town, Four Seasons Prague is tucked away so discreetly that passersby might miss it entirely. The luxury hotel sits on the banks of the Vltava River and offers unparalleled vistas of Prague Castle and the nearby Charles Bridge.

RELATED: The New Four Seasons Hotel Downtown NYC

Both the views and the Vltava play an integral role in the hotel’s recently opened spa. “AVA is the Celtic name for water,” explains spa manager Edita Deveroux. “Water and the Czech Republic’s historic spa traditions have become the essence of our spa concept.”

Following eight months of renovations and a move to the neoclassical space, the hotel now encompasses three historic buildings and an adjoined contemporary structure. Adorned with arches, tiling and gold accents, AVA is comprised of a vitality pool with hydrotherapeutic jets, male and female steam rooms and saunas, and five treatment rooms, each of which is named after a different river in the Czech Republic, including the Vltava, where couples’ and signature treatments are performed.

During my visit, I opted for the Golden Ritual (140 min./$450), which incorporates a relaxing bath, one of the spa’s three Traditional Czech Inspired Bath Treatments (30 min./$130). Each bath is named after the Czech Republic’s most popular spa towns, and inspired by the healing thermal waters found there. All of the products in this ritual—which contain real gold particles—are by Omorovicza, a Hungarian line based around the renowned, mineral-rich waters of Budapest. AVA offers two other cosmetics lines: Swiss Perfection and Sodashi.

My treatment series began with a revitalizing sugar and gold scrub. After a shower, I soaked in a salt- and lavender-infused bath with massaging jets and changing LED lights. I then received a Gold Body Massage, followed by a Golden Lifting Facial, which my therapist Liliana Ferreira aptly described as “A little moment to help calm and reawaken your body, spirit and mind.”

M Spa by Pure Altitude at The Emblem Hotel

Situated just off the historic Old Town Square, Prague’s five-star Emblem Hotel offers design and art as main draws. Examples include Tom Dixon copper shades, a Vladmir Kagan Swan sofa and staff uniforms by Czech fashion designer Jakub Polanka. In addition to its top-floor location, the boutique hotel’s light and airy M Spa distinguishes itself with its clean, minimalist look.

RELATED: Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

Before my treatment, I spent some time in the wellness area wet room. The walls and floor of the long, narrow space are made from a white Carrara marble warmed with dark wood accents, and the space features a KLAFS steam room, sauna and ice fountain. The area also includes
a Kneipp Path, where guests walk on stones in a shallow pool of hot water, then switch to an adjacent cold-water pool. The path pays homage to 19th-century priest Sebastian Kneipp, who discovered the benefits of cold water stimulation for the circulatory and immune systems.

In the relaxation lounge—a spacious attic room—work by a local artist hangs above a custom oak table, armchairs and chaise longue. Windows offer views of statues on nearby buildings and upper façades. “We chose this space because of what Pure Altitude, the product line we carry, represents,” says Helena Valtrová, the hotel’s general and spa manager. “Edelweiss, the line’s key ingredient, grows high up in the French Alps.”

The Candle Ritual (60-90 min./$100- $130), one of the menu’s Pure Altitude massages, uses candle wax from the line’s Fleurs de Neige fragrant candle balm—containing shea butter, edelweiss, vitamin E, cotton seed and citral—warmed to 50 degrees Celsius. One of the spa’s most appealing offerings is its rooftop Jacuzzi (30-60 min./$35-$80), which must be booked in advance and allows guests to take in a view of Prague Castle while enjoying a complimentary bottle of prosecco. “It’s like they’re on their own private terrace,” Valtrová notes.

To attract hotel guests—who make up 80 percent of the spa’s patrons—M Spa offers promotional packages, often with unique, off-menu services. Other effective marketing methods: partnerships with stores on Prague’s exclusive shopping street, Parížská, such as fashion/jewelry showcases. “We also host a pre-event hair and makeup lounge for major TV awards, and secure internet coverage from bloggers and celebrity influencers,” adds Valtrová.

  • four-seasons-prague-whirlpool
    AVA Spa at Four Seasons Prague
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Prague

ur ritual starts when you walk in the door and ends when you walk out,” says Dita Kryštufková, spa and wellness manager, when asked what makes the spa special. Along with skilled therapists, indulgent treatments and impeccable service, what stands out about this particular spa is its one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Within a hotel built on the site of a 14th-century monastery, it touts itself as the only spa in the world to be housed inside a former Renaissance chapel. The local architects, who made it their mission to create a modern design while sensitively preserving history, added a glass floor in the lobby that looks down into the illuminated original foundations.

RELATED: Saxon Spa in South Africa

The space encompasses seven treatment suites, including two couples’ suites—one of which features a private vitality pool. All of the menu’s offerings begin with time to unwind in the Tea Lounge, and the most popular treatments include a custom Oriental Essence massage (60-90 min./$110-$150), Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa Therapies (120 min./$220) and its bespoke Time Rituals (120-180 min./$220-$310), in which guests receive individually tailored services.

Patrons of The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Prague—about 30 percent locals—are drawn in mainly by word of mouth. A targeted database of top-spending clients, many of whom are members of the exclusive MO Wellness Club, are encouraged to bring friends to special events. But the spa’s reputation for an exceptional level of service precludes all other marketing. “It’s our unique treatments and therapists; they are the core of everything,” says Kryštufková.

Boscolo Spa & Wellness at Boscolo Prague

Opened in 2003, Boscolo Prague is part of the Autograph Collection and located in a neoclassical palace that once housed Bohemia’s first mortgage bank. Filled with arches and pillars, the five-star hotel’s historic cellar is home to a hidden spa gem.

“Immediately upon arrival, clients feel a sense of intimacy,” says Lenka Jurášková, who handles the hotel’s marketing and public relations as an independent contractor. And she’s right. When guests emerge from the elevator they’re immersed in a warm blue light that permeates the long hallway, bordered with modern floor lanterns made of glass.

Lighting sets the mood throughout the spa, which caters to 70 percent hotel guests. In the changing rooms, low light and black walls create a distinct atmosphere and a deep sense of privacy. The space was inspired by Roman spas, and includes several treatment rooms, a sauna and steam rooms, plus a 20-meter swimming pool with waterfalls, whirlpools and a mosaic floor.

From an extensive spa menu, three unique offerings stand out: Morta’s Fate (60-90min./$100-$130), therapist-recommended, customized treatments; Body Strategist (90 min./$140), a slimming and body firming service; and Paris and Helena (90-120 min./$130-$170), a couples’ treatment in which therapists teach partners how to massage one another.

I indulged in Fly With Icarus (60-90 min./$90-$125), an intensive head and foot massage that uses reflexology techniques. “The service focuses on stimulating the reflex points, which is beneficial for the whole organism,” explained my therapist Dita Bohdanecká, who spent a lot of her time on my feet. “During this type of massage, it’s best to stimulate the main organs that are most burdened,” she added.

My treatment over, I found myself parched; right on cue, Bohdanecká offered me a freshly squeezed juice—the perfect end to a thoroughly satisfying spa experience.

–by Joann Plockova

More in Profiles