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Best of Prague 2010

It’s hard to play favorites in a city like Prague, where the dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment options seem boundless, but The Prague Post readers were up to the challenge, voting on the best the city has to offer in 25 categories. Our editorial staff also put in their two cents’ worth by making their own picks on the best places to eat, drink, exercise, furnish your apartment and get everything from a stylish new coif to expert financial advice. Whether you’re partial to homey Czech cuisine or exclusive fine dining, luxury travel or rowdy pubs, we hope our readers’ and editors’ selections will help you make the most of your time in the Golden City.

Reader and editor choices for the best the city has to offer

Best café

Readers’ choice:
Café Bistro

Hilton Prague, Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 842 378.

The Hilton Prague’s Café Bistro is open 24/7 and boasts a varied menu of craveables that one can order at any time, including burgers, grilled sandwiches, salads and desserts. Oh, and several options for tea and coffee. Prices commensurate with the Hilton brand.

Editors’ choice:
Medúza

Belgická 17, Prague 2-Vinohrady. Tel. 222 515 107

Cafés are hard to rate objectively. After all, one’s tastes are usually associated with convenience, habit and comfort. For those who love it, it’s hard to top Medúza, an intimate spot in leafy Vinohrady that has plenty of space and romantic, vintage furniture for all its fans. Late hours allow you to segue from coffee to beer and wine with ease, with tasty snacks along the way.

Best bar

Readers’ choice:
Cloud 9 Sky Bar & Lounge

Hilton Prague, Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 842 999

Cloud 9 is often rated a Prague favorite, winning Best Hotel Bar of the Year at the Czech Bar Awards with its original cocktail menu and unique atmosphere. The bar features a number of signature drinks you won’t find anywhere else, like the Charisma – a melon and cranberry concoction served with a red pepper for extra bite.

Editors’ choice:
Hemingway Bar

Karolíny Světlé 26, Prague 5-Smíchov. Tel. 773 974 764

Hemingway won Best Bar of the Year in the annual Czech Bar Awards, and for good reason. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the menu features unbeatable cocktails, mixed just right every time, at extremely reasonable prices. It’s also a great destination to sample some of the finest spirits in Europe like real absinth and exquisite rum.

Best music club

Readers’ choice:
The Red Room

Myslíkova 28, Prague 2-New Town. Tel. 222 520 084

With live music five nights a week, this café-bar venue near Karlovo náměstí definitely scored points with cash-strapped expats for its wide range of free gigs, and its Open Mic night Sundays is also very popular. The drinks menu, featuring draught beer for 35 Kč and a wide range of cocktails and shots for mostly under 100 Kč, is bound to have been another top draw.

Editors’ choice:
Lucerna Music Bar

In Lucerna Passage, Vodičkova 36, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 224 217 108

This century-old concert venue is a convenient central spot to catch both local bands and reasonably big international names at moderate prices. The Swell Season, Tricky and Parov Stelar were among the wide span of artists and genres that featured here in the past year. While its size is perhaps better suited to gigs than partying, the club’s ’80s and ’90s nights are always popular.

Best sports bar

Readers’ choice:
Belushi’s

Odborů 4, Prague 2-New Town. Tel. 246 008 324

Belushi’s prides itself on being a major headquarters for American football, serving up great American-style burgers, like the BBQ Burger and the Sanchez Special. Their sports selection, which includes channels from ESPN and Sky Sports, doesn’t exclude the international audience, and they also show European favorites like ice hockey and rugby. All of this in a smoke-free environment!

Editors’ choice:
Golden Star (Zlatá hvězda)

Ve Smečkách 12, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 777 000 780

For true sports fans, this is your destination. The plumbing may not be great, and the food is so-so, but the sports selection is unbeatable. With the most available sports programs in the Czech Republic on six different television screens, you can ask for any game in any part of the world and they will most certainly have it, even if it’s showing in the wee hours of the morning.

Best Czech restaurant

Readers’ choice:
CzecHouse Grill & Rotisserie

Hilton Prague, Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 841 111

At the Hilton Prague’s flagship restaurant, CzecHouse Grill & Rotisserie, pub grub goes upscale. Fanciful interpretations of Czech classics put the cuisine on the worldwide map and the Hilton Prague at the top of our readers’ picks. Prices may be high, but high expectations will be met.

Editors’ choice:
Lokál

Dlouhá 33, Prague 1-Old Town. Tel. 222 316 265

Part of the successful Ambiente chain of “inventive” restaurants, Lokál has championed the “Slow Food” movement here in the Czech Republic, turning out quality, reasonably priced Czech plates – think livers, fried cheese, svíčková – in a trendy space, with free-flowing Pilsner and a lively, upbeat pub atmosphere.

Best Asian restaurant

Readers’ choice:
Lemon Leaf

Myslíkova 14, Prague 2-New Town. Tel. 224 919 056

A longstanding favorite that has become an institution of sorts among expats and locals alike. Popular for its well-priced and reliable Thai food, including a good Pad Thai, as well as a successful mix of Continental dishes. Weekend brunches pack out in this bright, buzzing spot.

Editors’ choice:
SaSaZu

Bubenské nábř. 13, Prague 7-Holešovice. Tel. 284 097 455

SaSaZu continues its reign as the top Asian restaurant in Prague and has found so much success that another location recently opened in Rhodes, Greece. Chef Shahaf Shabtay has traveled the world, and it shows on his menu, which includes flavors and dishes from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and other exotic locales in Southeast Asia.

Best Italian restaurant

Readers’ choice:
Aromi

Mánesova 78, Prague 2-Vinohrady. Tel. 222 713 222

A little corner joint in ultra-neighborhoody Vinohrady that has a big following, Aromi specializes in fresh seafood, homemade pasta dishes, an extensive list of Italian wines and simple, enticing flavors. There’s a trattoria feel to this longtime, reliable favorite, which never ceases to impress.

Editors’ choice:
Gabriele

Husova 5, Prague 1-Old Town. Tel. 224 248 512

This newcomer to the Prague upscale scene has arrived with a splash, creating waves of excitement. Owner and acclaimed chef Gabriele Feliciani takes his conceptualization of old Italian cuisine (a return to the basics of freshest ingredients), combines it with the highest standards of artistic preparation, with the result being exquisite Italian creations, all in a relaxed, friends-and-family atmosphere.

Best fine dining

Readers’ choice:
CzecHouse Grill & Rotisserie

Hilton Prague, Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 841 111

Hilton Prague’s high-end restaurant doesn’t limit itself to Czech food, as part of its name may suggest. CzecHouse Grill & Rotisserie also offers Angus steaks, fresh and innovative seafood creations and an expansive menu of Continental cuisine. Dishes on offer change with the seasons.

Editors’ choice:
La Degustation

Haštalská 18, Prague 1-Old Town. Tel. 224 841 111

La Degustation offers arguably the most intriguing fine-dining experience in Prague, and its top awards and international reputation are the icing on the deconstructed cake. Visiting the restaurant requires several hours and a huge appetite: La Degustation takes you through multicourse menus, where the passion and precision that go into everything are apparent.

Best hotel

Readers’ choice:
Hilton

Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 841 111

The choice of the past two U.S. presidents to visit (or at least, their officially announced choice), the Hilton is an annual favorite in our survey. It offers all the amenities one might expect of a hotel of its size and stature: restaurants, health clubs and conference facilities. It’s slightly away from the city center on the riverbank but close to the Florenc metro stop.

Editors’ choice:
Marriot

V Celnici 8, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 222 888 888

There are plenty of beautiful smaller hotels in the Golden City, but this larger hotel is often overlooked. It offers a restaurant, bar, café, health center, spa and conference facilities. Its location close to náměstí Republiky metro station and the Palladium shopping center make it a convenient jumping-off point to get anywhere in the city. There is also an onsite casino if you’re feeling lucky.

Best financial services

Readers’ choice:
Raiffeisenbank

Infoline 800 900 900

Czech banks are notorious for charging pesky little fees for basic services, but Raiffeisenbank is bucking the trend with its eKonto account, which has no fixed fees and actually pays you a bonus. The account includes free savings account maintenance, and there are no fees for replacing lost or stolen bank cards.

Editors’ choice:
Česká spořitelna

Infoline 800 207 207

Česká spořitelna is one of the few banks in the country that guarantees service in English, German and French. Accounts set up through the Expat Center, where multilingual assistance is available, can be a bit pricier than standard accounts, but they come with perks like additional foreign exchange accounts, leasing and brokerage services, and discounts on health insurance and fitness-center memberships.

Best real estate agency

Readers’ choice:
Svoboda & Williams

Benediktská 3, Prague 1-Old Town. Tel. 257 328 281

With a database of 8,000 properties in Prague, Svoboda & Williams is able to offer a wide range of real estate services, including matching clients with residential and commercial properties for purchase, as well as rental apartments and houses. They also provide relocation services to ease the transition for newcomers and construction services to ensure above-standard quality for clients who want to build or renovate.

Editors’ choice:
Raiffeisen Leasing Real Estate

Hvězdova 1716, Prague 4-Nusle. Tel. 221 511 610

A leading player on both the Czech and Austrian markets, Raiffeisen Leasing Real Estate is the go-to company for property developers. It excels at construction management services and can help select architects, project managers and land, as well as provide support for contract negotiations, project planning, property inspections and legal issues.

Best taxi service

Readers’ and Editors’ choice:

AAA RadioTaxi

Tel. 222 333 222

Everyone has a horror story about being ripped off by an unscrupulous taxi driver, but clearly readers feel safe with AAA RadioTaxi. The yellow cars have set pick-up spots at the main railway station and Prague Ruzyně Airport, and customers can also order a fast, clean ride from anywhere in the city 24-7 by phone, SMS or e-mail. Those who don’t want to risk driving their own car home after an evening of enjoying the nightlife can order a driver to take both them and their car home safely.

Best car rental service

Readers’ choice:
Sixt and Hertz

www.sixt.com, www.hertz.com

Sixt offers easy five-step online booking, and you can take your pick of high-performance German cars like Audis and BMWs or other luxury cars like Mercedes. They’re in all the major Czech cities, and convenient pick-up and drop-off is available in Prague at the airport and the Hilton near the Florenc bus station.
Hertz is by far the largest car rental company in the world, so it’s never a problem to find a branch office or car, wherever you are. Environmentally minded renters can take advantage of the Green Collection of more fuel-efficient cars, and everybody will appreciate the special offers that can save a heavy chunk of change.

Editors’ choice:
Europcar

www.europcar.com

This Paris-based rental company has offices all over Europe, including two in Prague, at the airport and on Pařížská street in the city center. The fleet consists of new, mostly midlevel cars, and prices are moderate to begin with, but customers can also take advantage of special deals in selected cities to get a car hire for less than 30 euros per day.

Best airline

Readers’ choice:
Czech Airlines

www.csa.cz

The most widely used airline in the Czech Republic, Czech Airlines flies to 47 countries worldwide with destinations in most major European and Asian cities. Prices tend to fluctuate with the times, and amenities are modest, but prices for long-haul international flights are competitive, and they have unrivaled travel options departing from Prague.

Editors’ choice:
Emirates

www.emirates.com

For flying in style, there’s no better choice than Emirates. The airline opened a direct service from Prague to Dubai last summer, and the first-class cabin pampers travelers the whole way there. Luxurious private suites, onboard shower spas, a roomy bar and lounge and excellent dining will make the five-hour flight go by in a snap.

Best school

Readers’ choice:
Riverside School and Prague British School

www.riversideschool.cz, www.pbschool.cz

With a special Early Years school for children up to 3 years old, Riverside School gets little ones started out right. The primary curriculum boasts especially strong language and IT learning, and a new Senior High School in the works will further improve the secondary school facilities.
Prague British School offers a world-class education based on the English National Curriculum for both Czech and international pupils, from 20 months all the way through high-school graduation.

Editors’ choice:
University of New York in Prague

www.unyp.cz

With a slew of new programs opened this year, including bachelor’s degrees in IT management and business administration, as well as master’s degrees in European law and integration, UNYP offers something for everyone. MBA students can customize their studies with specializations in project management and sustainability, and the PULSE Lecture series regularly draws experts from all fields to give talks to students.

Best brunch

Readers’ choice:
Zinc

Hilton Prague, Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 842 378

The Hilton Prague restaurant was ranked among the top 25 recently by Hospodářské noviny, and executive chef Ari Murander’s creations have earned Zinc compliments from the people at Michelin. A confident fusion of ingredients, spices and inspirations from Asian and European cuisines.

Editors’ choice:
Press Café 1911

Velehradská 4, Prague 3-Žižkov. Tel. 605 250 958

This small, cozy café and bar in Žižkov is a favorite for its roast-beef sandwiches, hamburgers and other small but well-crafted dishes, but it’s also got a killer brunch that’s affordable and surprising in options and quality. The vegetarian list includes expertly scrambled eggs, roasted goat cheese with mushrooms, and meats can include an array of sausages, bacon and their perfect roast beef, served with garlic mayonnaise. On top of the options, you get mashed potatoes, toast and a free drink. Brunch held Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Best bookstore

Readers’ choice:
The Globe Bookstore

Pštrossova 6, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 224 934 203

A Prague institution, The Globe has been serving books, food and coffee at its present location for nearly two decades. The café regularly plays host to readings, film screenings and concerts, while the bookstore section offers a quiet place to thumb through the wide selection of English-language periodicals and books.

Editors’ choice:
Shakespeare and Sons Books

U Lužického semináře, Prague 1-Malá Strana. Tel. 257 531 894

The only bookstore in Prague to specialize in new and used volumes of English-language literature and literary criticism, Shakespeare and Sons has recently expanded its store to include a gallery and reading room at its charming Malá Strana location. Regular exhibitions, book launches and readings take place under the arched ceilings of the lower floor.

Best performing arts theater

Readers’ choice:
National Theater

Ostrovní 1, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 224 901 448

The National Theater is the most famous and respected venue for high culture in Prague, including ballet, drama, opera and musicals. The theater also regularly invites foreign visitors to Prague for lectures and collaborations, including set designer Robert Wilson, who directed and designed the current performance of Karel Čapek’s The Makropulos Case.

Editors’ choice:
Archa Theater

Na Poříčí 26, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 221 716 333

Archa is an internationally renowned performance space that hosts some of the best concerts and performances in Prague, from American indie bands Wilco and MGMT to the provocative Belgian dance company Ultima Vez. Archa’s space is small enough to be intimate, large enough for crowds and versatile enough to hold a variety of acts in every imaginable genre.

Best art gallery

Readers’ choice:
DOX Gallery

Poupětova 1, Prague 7-Holešovice. Tel. 774 145 434

One of the first privately owned art galleries in the city, DOX opened in 2008 on the site of a 19th-century factory in Holešovice. Dox immediately established itself as one of the city’s most ambitious galleries, hosting exhibitions by provocative Czech and international artists, including David Černý’s controversial installation piece Entropa in 2009.

Editors’ choice:
Dvorak Sec Gallery

Dlouhá 5, Prague 1-Old Town.  Tel. 604 204 653

A storefront gallery just off Old Town Square, Dvorak Sec focuses on contemporary art, exhibiting cutting edge artists from around the world. Not limited to any specific genre, the gallery has recently shown paintings, sculpture and video installations, as well as its permanent exhibition of the best-known contemporary Czech artists.

Best hairdresser

Readers’ choice:
Toni & Guy

Dlouhá 13, Prague 1-Old Town. Tel. 222 320 056

With two locations in the center of Prague, Toni & Guy brings the “catwalk to client” philosophy to their customers with progressive styling in a friendly atmosphere. Their services will definitely run you more than the corner barber, but who can put a price on a perfect coif?

Editors’ choice:
Bomton

Václavské nam. 43, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 224 231 689

Bomton has it all at its chic central studio. Whether you’re stopping in for a quick trim or spending an entire afternoon at their full-service spa or beauty studio, you’ll never want for expert styling and service. They even have a fashion café onsite where you can sip espresso and enjoy your new ‘do.

Best wellness center

Readers’ choice:
Cybex

Pobřežní 1, Prague 8-Karlín. Tel. 224 842 375

Located at the Prague Hilton, Cybex wellness center is a great place to de-stress after the holidays. You can choose from dozens of massages and treatments, like a foot massage with wild mint gel or a face massage with honey and cucumber. Cybex also has a hairstylist and cosmetician in-house, so you can end your visit looking as fabulous as you feel.

Editors’ choice:
Thai Fit

Na Poříčí 1, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 224 811 876

Traditional Thai massage involves plenty of stretching and deep-tissue work, both of which you’ll get at Thai Fit. They also tantalize the senses with herbal, oil, chocolate and lava stone massages, and once you’re limbered up, you can join one of their yoga courses or just lounge a bit longer in the sauna.

Best fitness center

Readers’ choice:
World Class

Václavské nam. 22, Prague 1-New Town (and other locations). Tel. 234 699 100

Whether you need to beef up for beach season or just shed a few extra kilos, World Class is fully equipped with all the standard weight training and cardio equipment you’ll need. They also have a wide variety of group fitness classes, or if you really need to go at your own pace, they have personal trainers on staff. Extra perks include a solarium, massage treatments and a cosmetics studio.

Editors’ choice:
Holmes Place

Second floor, OC Nový Smíchov, Plzeňská 5, Prague 5-Smíchov (and other locations). Tel. 257 313 830

Holmes Place has multiple locations throughout Prague, so there’s no excuse not to get in shape, no matter where you live. The gyms are spacious with special cardio zones and an air-conditioned spinning room. You can also cool off in the 17.5-meter-long swimming pool, and after an intensive workout, the relaxation center with sauna and whirlpool awaits.

Best shopping center

Readers’ choice:
Palladium

nám. Republiky 1, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 225 770 250

As shopping centers go, Palladium is definitely on the higher end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find good deals there. With 180 shops, it’s easy to find exactly what you need (or never knew you needed). With a castle facade on the outside and a modern feel on the inside, Palladium is best for fashion, with big names like Luisa Spagnoli and Pietro Filipi on offer.

Editors’ choice:
Metropole Zličín

Řevnická 1, Prague 5-Zličín. Tel. 226 081 540

It’s not centrally located, but what this center lacks in convenience it makes up for with the sheer quantity of shops. Dozens of midrange European fashion chains are there, but what really makes Metropole Zličín a draw, especially with families, is the extensive entertainment facilities – they’ve got bowling, a fitness center, a cinema, and of course, tons of games and activities for kids.

Best beer

Readers’ choice:
Pilsner Urquell

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You usually can’t lose when sipping on the country’s best-known brew. It’s best enjoyed at a pub serving tank beer, where the bubbles have a little more pop and the hops a little extra bite. Pilsner is widely available throughout the city and the country. You really can’t go wrong when sipping this potent potable out of a signature half-liter mug.

Editors’ choice:
Rychtář Natur

You can’t find this light lager everywhere, but as part of a line of smaller brewers now allied under the K Brewery umbrella, this beer and many of its partners are shaking up the beer landscape. It has a clean taste, cloudy color, thick foam and a slightly tangy aftertaste. Pubs with a Lobkowicz sign outside likely serve Rychtář alongside an assortment of unique brews from smaller breweries. Keep your eyes peeled.

Best design shop

Readers’ choice:
Naoko

Revoluční 24, Prague 1-New Town. Tel. 222 312 567

Naoko does home décor with tongue fully in cheek. You can pick up a toilet paper holder that doubles as a magazine rack, or a colorfully illustrated “instruction” sign for how to use the bathroom (blue for men and pink for women, of course). They have hundreds of other household wares that will also serve as conversation pieces when you have guests over, like cute, cactus-shaped wine racks or gold-fish covered trash bags.

Editors’ choice:
Le Patio Lifestyle

Dušní 8, Prague 1-Old Town. Tel. 222 310 310

For those with disposable decorating income who just can’t stomach another trip to IKEA, Le Patio Lifestyle has original, classic designs to accentuate your home. Especially notable is their Colonial Collection of pieces personally selected in India and shipped directly. They also import one-of-a-kind furniture made from mother of pearl from the Philippines.

Congratulations!
And many thanks to al those who voted

Best of Prague 2010 prize winners:

  • Christian Specking, Göttingen
  • Zuzana Tančáková, Prague
  • A.J. Conor, Prague
  • Meyer de Voltaire, Zurich
  • Tatiana Lanovenko, Prague
  • Petr Gálik, Bašť,
  • Monina Nieras, Prague
  • David Williams, Prague
  • Martina Vaňková, Prague
  • Iuri Monastirnii, Prague

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