Postcard from Prague

Rooms, food and masterpieces

Rooms with a View

New last year, the Four Seasons is set on the Vltava River--Smetana's Moldau--with romantic views of the medieval Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. A fusion of four buildings, ranging from a Baroque villa housing a pair of two-bedroom suites (all four bedrooms can be rented for $3,500) to a brand-new contemporary entryway, it delivers seamless Four Seasons service, though the choice of a turquoise-and-yellow color scheme for the hallways and drab brown and tan for some rooms is puzzling. The suite to get is number 701, handsome in dark woods and gilding, offering the perfect visual vantage point: high up and right next to the bridge. Rooms, $245-$3,500. Veleslavinova 2A; 800-819-5053, 420-2-2142-7000; fax 420-2-2142-6000;

Food with a View

Prague has surprisingly few good restaurants that take advantage of the city's waterscape. One of the best is Kampa Park, with a newly enlarged and enclosed terrace on the river near the Charles Bridge. Presided over by chef Marek Raditsch, veteran of New York's Nobu and Café Boulud, the menu is decidedly eclectic, including well-executed offerings like tuna with black truffles, coconut-lime soup with mussels and crab legs, and grilled duck breast with fig sauce. Dinner, $72. Na Kampe 8b; 420-2-5753-2685; fax 420-2-5753-3223.

Views from relative newcomer U Zlaté Studne--set on a hillside near Prague Castle, overlooking the whole city--are even more exceptional, particularly at night. Though the building (the hotel of the same name) is 16th century, the top-floor restaurant is spare, contemporary, and stylish, with vast windows on one side of the long room and a lustrous gold wall on the other. Tables on the terrace share the fine views. The menu offers a small selection of updated classics, such as chicken with tarragon and roasted tiger prawns with Parmesan and garlic butter. Dinner, $60. U Zlaté Studne 166/4; 420-2-5753-3322; fax 420-2-5753-5044.

Art Nouveau Masterpiece

Municipal House--once home to Bohemian kings and now a center for the arts--is an architectural wonder. Of special note: the ornate Smetana Hall, base for the Prague Symphony; the domed Mayor Hall, with frescoes by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha; and the ground-floor café, with huge gilded chandeliers, a nymph relief in Carrara marble, and estimable coffee and cakes. Namesti Republiky 5; 420-2-2200-2100.

Masterpieces in Glass

Arzenal specializes in the baroque, imaginative designs of celebrated glass artist Borek Sípek (whose works have been commissioned for President Vaclav Havel's villa). The store also showcases his ceramics and idiosyncratic furniture, as well as the clothing designs of his friend Yoshiki Hishinuma. Diners can try out Sípek's tableware at the Thai café in the back. Prices range from $7.50 for a juice glass to $4,800 for a multicolored, tendriled chandelier. Valentinska 11; 420-2-2481-4099.

Key to the City When Prince Charles sent a few guests to tour the gardens of Prague, Olga Savelková showed them around. She has also served as guide to several heads of state. Knowledgeable, flexible, and infinitely patient, she can structure any tour--even a three-hour whirlwind, which she recently designed for a busy CEO's visit. Her fee: $20 an hour. 420-2-4143-0098;

Restaurant prices reflect a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverages and gratuity. Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.