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Czech Republic Lodging: Pensions, Holiday Homes and More

alchymist prague suitesRitzy or rustic, extravagant or economical, historical or hip -- the Czech Republic has a place where you'll be happy to lay your head. Do your research and don't hesitate to call or email places that only have Czech websites; chances are you'll catch someone who speaks English and end up with a unique experience to share back home. Read on for a few of our favorite options.

Pensions

Pensions, also known as guesthouses, provide some of the most cozy and moderately priced accommodation in the Czech Republic, along with interaction with friendly local owners. Many offer packages that include breakfast or even full board, and they range from a simple room in a village home to more extravagant lodging in a former chateau. Stay in them on a hiking or cycling outing in the Sumava or Bohemian Paradise for an authentic Czech experience; pensions are popular with Czechs, who tend to leave hotels to the tourists.

Pension Fan in Karlovy Vary is a small outfit whose staff specializes in Nordic walking and is renowned for helpful service. If you're in the mountainous region near the Polish border, Na Kopecku is also known for its hospitality and welcomes you with a fireplace in the common room and hot meals cooked by the proprietor.

Because pensions are usually small, family-run enterprises, finding them on the Internet (and in English, to boot) can be a challenge. Follow the links below, and if you're really adventurous, search "penziony cesky republicka" and apply Google Translate.

Pension Resources:
Bed-and-Breakfast.cz
Jaaty.com/en/ (Na Kopecku)
Penzionfan.cz/en
Ubytovani-Online.net/accommodation.htm

Photos: 10 Best Czech Republic Experiences

Luxury Offerings

The Czech Republic doesn't skimp on decadent accommodation, especially in its capital city. If you're after a luxe stay with every detail polished to shining, you can pick from chic design boutique outfits and opulent historical classics.

The Alchymist Prague Castle Suites, tucked in the cobblestone streets below Prague Castle, has a brilliant reputation for ambience and service. This boutique property is modeled in 16th-century Baroque style with period furniture, a music salon/library, gourmet dining, and a fireplace room complete with wine and cheese served by a butler.

Further east, the Esplanade Spa and Golf Resort in the spa town of Marianske Lazne is an art nouveau jewel dating back to 1911. Aside from unparalleled service and a winter terrace, it provides year-round golf practice through simulators and indoor and outdoor putting greens.

Luxury Hotel Resources:
AlchymistPragueCastle.com
Esplanade-Marienbad.cz

Chatas and Chalupas

Czechs have the most holiday homes per capita in Europe, and they consist of chatas, or small wooden cabins, and chalupas, or larger residential buildings like farmhouses. In the warmer months, citizens empty out of cities and spend their weekends in the forests foraging for mushrooms, fishing and trekking. Some also use their holiday homes in the winter.

Thanks to a national affinity for these mostly hand-built structures, many families prefer to rent out their chatas and chalupas rather than sell them. They range from bare-bones rustic to modernized and fully equipped, and they can be found in every corner of the countryside, from the Jeseniky Mountains in the east to the Labe River in the west.

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Chatatour.com, an international site, connects you with holiday homes for weekly increments, while the local Chata.cz is written only in Czech, but works fine with Google Translate.

Chata and Chalupa Resources:
Chata.cz
ChataTour.com/en/

Hotels

hotel savoy spindleruv mlynFor those who desire the familiarity of a chain hotel, many major international entities are present, from Marriott and Movenpick to Comfort Inn. If you yearn for something more unique or specialized, there are gems for all budgets. Hotel costs are lower than in the West, but services and quality aren't swept under the rug.

The ski-centric Hotel Savoy in Spindleruv Mlyn, nestled in the Krkonose Mountains, boasts forest views and a winter sports boutique. Hotel Arte in the Moravian capital of Brno has a price tag much more modest than one would expect for a design establishment with sleek furniture and a breakfast featuring freshly made juices.

In Old Town Prague, Unitas Hotel is a charming choice with a distinctive history; it was a convent-turned-secret police headquarters where former president Vaclav Havel was detained for interrogation. Along the riverbank you'll find the elegant Mamaison Suite Hotel Pachtuv Palace, which offers vaulted chapel ceilings and Prague Castle views among many high-end details.

Hotel Resources:
AstenHotels.com/savoyspindleruvmlyn
HotelArte.cz
Mamaison.com/prague-pachtuv-palace-prague-accomodation.html
Unitas.cz

Beer Spas

Hotels with adjoining spas may be nothing new, but what about one that offers a good soak in a tub of lager? Beer spas are touted for their ability to refresh skin and unravel muscles without the ingestion of alcohol, though you can sip a cold brew during the process if you're of age. Being able to roll into a soft hotel bed afterward sweetens the deal.

Hotel U Sladka in West Bohemia serves the Chodovar Brewery, the first place to offer medicinal beer spas, though they're starting to pop up all over the country. Treatments at Chodovar include a dip in dark beer, packs of warm malt draff on the skin and massages.

Another popular chain is Beer Spa BBB, which has four hotel/spa operations in the Czech Republic. You can hole up with BBB in central Prague for a cosmopolitan holiday or take a slower pace in the Beskydy Mountains.

Beer Spa Hotel Resources:
BeerSpaBBB.com
Chodovar.cz/id196en-ubytovani.htm

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Camping

Make like a Czech and become one with nature for less than you'd spend on lunch. Campsites are prolific and fall along a spectrum from primitive and pastoral to contemporary and Wi-Fi-connected. Check listings for bonuses like nearby historical sites, bike and boat rentals, sport courts, and more.

Near the fairy-tale Castle Hluboka in South Bohemia, Camping Kostelec serves up an entertainment program for kids and a weekly barbecue for guests. On the Austrian border, Camp Bitov has a mini-water park and is located less than a mile from a petrified dam where medieval battle reenactments are held.

Other camping areas that are increasing in popularity include crystalline reservoirs in East Bohemia, the hiking- and cycling-rich Macha's Lake region and the Palava territory, which is near vineyards and wineries.

Camping Resources:
Camp-Bitov.cz (Czech and German only)
Camp.cz/en/
CampingKostelec.eu

Unusual Stays

Veering away from more traditional types of lodging isn't difficult when things like castles, a TV transmission tower and a former Jesuit dormitory are available for rest and relaxation.

The history of Hruba Skala Chateau dates back to the 1300s, but you can sleep like Wallenstein royalty there today in complete comfort. This romantic fortress is just miles from the Cesky raj region, which is famous for its superb outdoor spaces: dense forests, sandstone rock formations and Gothic ruins.

At Hotel Jested, eat dinner and snooze above the clouds in a hyperboloid TV tower from the 1960s. The structure won the coveted Perret Prize in international architecture and is close to attractions like museums, ski slopes and spas.

The town of Cesky Krumlov is home to Hotel Ruze, situated in a former 16th-century Jesuit dormitory. It's kept its historical feel with wood-beam ceilings and lavish tapestries, and a number of dignitaries and Czech celebrities have been guests.

Unusual Stay Resources:
English.JanHotels.cz
www.HrubaSkala.cz/en
Jested.cz/en

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--written by Emily Rankin

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