Five budget places to stay in Prague

by Fred.Mawer

Whether it is a quirky 17th-century building in the Czech capital, an apartment with views of Petrin hill or a tasteful boutique hotel near Prague Castle, it can be yours for less than €100 a night

Accommodation in Prague can be fantastic value at the moment. A sharp downturn in business has led to many hotels and b&bs dropping their rates significantly to try and drum up business – so there are now great places to stay in the stunning old parts of the city, not just the suburbs, for less than €100 a night in summer. I’ve picked out five of my favourites, some costing as little as €63 a night. Unless otherwise stated, price are lead-in rates, including a local tax of 9 per cent, for the cheapest double room available between March and October. Note that rates are often even cheaper from November to February.

Dum u Velke Boty

The discreet “House of the Big Boot” – there is no sign saying it is a b&b – is my favourite place to stay in Prague. Its location, on an off-the-beaten-track cobbled Mala Strana backstreet, opposite a palace used as the German Embassy, is perfect. I also like the quirkiness of the 17th-century building – one bedroom has a kitchen range, another a giant old ceramic stove – and the fact that it is very much a home. Long-time owners Jan and Charlotta Rippl have furnished the dozen bedrooms with family heirlooms, antiques and striking works of art, and the Rippls are vivacious, hands-on hosts. In keeping with the atmosphere, breakfasts can, if you wish, be eaten communally with other guests. Rooms with shared bathroom from €80, en-suite from €127; breakfast €8 extra per person.

Castle Steps

The excellent-value Castle Steps (from €63 b&b) is not your run-of-the-mill hotel. Its 50 rooms and apartments are spread over four buildings dotted along the main thoroughfare that climbs steeply through the Mala Strana district up towards Prague Castle. Rooms share bathrooms, while apartments are en-suite and larger ones have their own kitchen. All the accommodation is different, but at the very least you can expect a room that has character, the odd antique or two, and a decent modern bathroom. Choose well – refer to the written and pictorial details on each room and apartment on the website – and you will find yourself in an ancient building, with acres of space and views to die for over Petrin hill. A vegan breakfast, included in the rates, is served in a wine cellar. Rooms with shared bathroom cost from €63 b&b, en-suite studio apartments from €72 b&b.

Pension Dientzenhofer

While this cosy pension is barely 300 yards from the ever-present tourist hordes on Charles Bridge, you’d struggle to find a more tranquil spot to stay in Prague. Named after a once-resident family of architects responsible for many of the city’s baroque buildings, the quaint 16th-century house is shielded from a picturesque cobbled side street by its own courtyard. Inside, the bedrooms – whitewashed, rugs on bare wooden floors, modern furniture – are more prosaic than the delightful setting, but they are spacious and well kept. In fine weather, have breakfast out in the courtyard or the narrow rear garden. From €97 b&b.

Domus Henrici

Rates at this high-quality boutique hotel have nearly halved from two years ago, and as such are a real bargain, even in high season. Dating from the 14th century, the elegant house is up in the Hradcany district, three minutes’ stroll from the entrance to Prague Castle: though the area is packed with tourists during the day, it is peaceful and atmospheric at night. With white walls, polished floors and striking slatted wood furniture, the eight bedrooms are faultlessly tasteful. The cheapest are small; deluxe rooms (from €20 more) are much larger, and have panoramic views over the orchards of Petrin hill. Plentiful breakfasts can be taken in the civilised lounge (books on Prague, classical music) or, weather permitting, on a terrace that enjoys the views. From €78 b&b.

Cloister Inn

Though the hotel occupies a brutal 1920s concrete block, which in the communist period served as offices for the secret police, don’t let that put you off. Bedrooms are roomy, double glazed, smartly furnished in woody Nordic style, and livened up with arty paintings and photographs of Prague; staff are very helpful; and free tea and coffee and Internet access are available in the lobby. Further plus points are the airy breakfast room – a vast hall that was once a chapel – and the location, on the edge of Stare Mesto (the old town), so central without being too much in the thick of things. Altogether a safe bet, and the current rates are very good value indeed. Doubles from €79 b&b.

Fred.Mawer

As a travel journalist with over 20 years of experience, I have written numerous articles on Amsterdam for the travel sections of newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and The Independent. I've also contributed to guidebooks on Amsterdam for the AA and Dorling Kindersley.

For my portfolio of writing, I am proud to say that the Netherlands Board of Tourism has voted me Journalist of the Year 2010.

During my many and frequent visits to the Dutch capital, I've stayed in most of the best hotels (in all price brackets - not just the expensive ones), and visited dozens of others. I've eaten and drunk in more restaurants, cafés and bars than, even sober, I can remember. I've explored the canals by boat and bike and on foot. I've hunted for bargains in the markets. I've admired the art - and worked out how best to avoid the crowds and queues - in the must-see museums. When not in Amsterdam or on my travels elsewhere, I'm at home in Bath.

My Amsterdam

Where I always grab a beer - Café t' Smalle (Egelantiersgracht 12), a cosy, classic "brown café" with its own canalside terrace.

My favourite dining spot - Café de Reiger (Nieuwe Leliestraat 34), an atmospheric eetcafé in the Jordaan that is always packed with locals.

Best for people watching - A window seat in Snackbar Bird (Zeedijk 77), a great little no-frills Thai café on one of the main thoroughfares into the Red Light District.

My favourite stroll - Pick a canal, any canal...but the stretch of the Prinsengracht along the Jordaan district is particularly lovely.

Where to be seen - MiNiBAR (Prinsengracht 478), an unusual, newish bar near the Leidseplein where you get your own minibar (and unlike many of Amsterdam's trendy nightspots, it's easy to get in).

The most breathtaking view - from the top of the tower of the Westerkerk.

The best spot for some peace and quiet - Vondelpark, the city's main park - especially towards its less visited western end.

Shopaholics beware! The gourmet shops, funky art galleries, fashionable clothes boutiques and oddball stores that line the charming Negen Straatjes or Nine Streets quarter.

Best new attraction - Hermitage Amsterdam, which lays on no-expense-spared exhibitions of treasures from St Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.

Don’t leave without...exploring the Eastern Docklands on a bike. The avant-garde modern architecture there is as memorable as the old gabled canal houses in the centre.