A Cheapskate’s Luxury Weekend in Prague Part 1: Friday Night in Hong Kong via LHR

It was a typical Happy Friday and as usual my best made plans went astray. I was meant to finish my working day with a delicious Indian lunch at Thakers in Hounslow whilst catching up with a colleague, but work knew better. An enforced schedule change meant starting my day in East London and as per usual my meeting over ran significantly and that delicious Thakers’ lunch became a Pret chilli hot wrap. By the time I had headed out west, swaying around on the Piccadilly line I was worried something was about to give and it wasn’t my time management skills!

I was keen to blame my Pret wrap but truth be told it could have been any of the lethally strong coffees I’d been knocking back that day. Perhaps it was the rather delicious masala dosas I picked up from Sarasars under recommendation from my friend J. I did check before hand that the restaurant had got its star back, food hygiene star before you ask, not Michelin! It might have been the burger from Shake Shack, or the decadent chocolate and halva danish from Ottolenghi, or was it the Nandos Peri Peri lunch I had with S. It certainly wasn’t any of Anne-So’s home cooked dinners.

By the time I’d finished trying to work out what was to blame for the ever increasing pain in my stomach, whilst simultaneously taking pity on the poor souls trapped inside the carriage with me it was time to get off for a quick stop in Hounslow. Relief was soon found, and in just the nick of time.

Welcome To Terminal 3
Done with work I made my way to Heathrow.

For once there was no queue at check and I picked up a paper boarding pass as my phone was running low on battery. I had a lovely friendly check in agent that evening who was definitely sharing the spirit of Happy Friday with me. 

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge
Access For oneworld First Class, Business Class and Emerald or Sapphire Status

Cathay Logo
Once through the Tardis of security I headed straight for my favourite slice of Hong Kong via London, the Cathay Pacific Lounge.

I love this spot, from the relaxing lounge chairs to the steamy low lit noodle bar, it feels like my own secret club at the end of the world.

Lounge Beer
Being a Friday night my lounge visit commenced with a refreshing pint of CX’s in-house Betsy Beer.

My timing was excellent for once and a few minutes after finishing my beer Anne-So arrived and we headed to the noodle bar for dinner number one.

Lounge Dim Sum
I ordered two of each of the dim sum as well as a Kir Royale and a glass of champagne from the bar to ensure we remained hydrated ahead of our flight.

I really felt that weekend buzz and it was telling me to pick up our steaming stack of goodness. Dim sum and champagne, that’s my kind of Friday night!

As we were still hungry I did another lap of the lounge to check out what else was on offer. Skipping the buffet options I ordered a portion of wonton soup and a deliciously fruity smelling glass of sauvignon blanc.

Lounge Won Ton Soup
Learning from a previous mistake I went easy on the condiments: A good handful of peanuts with a dash of chilli sauce, fried garlic and a little spring onion.

Anne-So enjoyed some beef fried rice and a bloody Mary.

British Airways Galleries Club
Access For oneworld First Class, Business Class and Emerald or Sapphire Status

Galleries Club
We didn’t feel like the ice cream or brownies on offer for pudding so instead headed back to Blighty for coffee and dessert.

Coffee was forthcoming but dessert was non-existent outside of a wide selection of biscuits. It was too late for quick trip to AAmerica and their Admirals Club so we settled with what we had.

The coffee was good, biscuits were tasty, views from the window were rather nice and BA Galleries Club definitely looked the part.

However, taking into account the choice of food and drink alongside the overall calm ambience, like most business class lounges it compared poorly to Cathay’s offering.

BA Galleries Club
I love airports, the people and their cases, the calm and the chaos, that slice of the post modern world and sense of adventure.

Boarding was called and we’d soon be on our way to Prague.

Flight: BA858 London to Prague
Depart: LHR 20:00
Arrive: PRG 23:00
Seats: 1A and 1C (Club Europe – Business Class)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 (G-EUYG First Flight 18/03/2010)

It was soon time to catch our flight and thankfully the gate was near enough adjacent to the lounge. At said gate a delay of fifteen minutes was called, ironically it was followed almost immediately by a call for boarding.

After a quick zigzag down the air bridge and a warm welcome on-board we settled into row 1.
Row 1 is definitely better on the D/F Side rather than the A/C side we had that evening where you feel a lot more exposed.

The last light had gone and it was time to enjoy the thrill of the airport at night, bright lights in the dark, jets off to lands near and far. There’s always something magical about a night time take off or landing that never seems to fade and that night was no exception. I wanted to peak through the windows of all the airliners we passed and ask their passengers where they were travelling.

The seat belt sign went out and service swung into action.

We immediately loaded up with enough drinks to last us the entire flight.

In the end we need not have bothered as our personal flight attendant kept us and the cabin regularly topped up the entire flight. Stupidly mixing my drinks yet again I went with the Castelnau Champagne, which although drinkable was a little less pleasant than the Moët Brut Impérial I’d enjoyed earlier in Cathay lounge. It did at least make for a nice apero with my bag of nuts.

My glass of Merlot had now reached room temperature so I could enjoy it with my main course.

It went OK with the rather filling beef and cheese panini and the potato salad starter.

There was also a brightly coloured cream and fruit dessert which I declined to eat. It was hardly the life of luxury and thank goodness BA improved their catering in the years that followed. Luckily I was so full from the lounges that I even declined the coffee, though again that was probably not the worst idea, if you’ve ever had the BA Club Europe Coffee you’ll know what I mean.

Anne-So did slightly better than me but also forfeit her dessert much to the embarrassment of our flight attendant who profusely apologised for forgetting our request to check whether or not it contained passion fruit, which is something that does not agree with her one bit.

Shortly after the offer of coffee there was barely time to flick through our guide book before our seat belt signs were on and we prepared to land.

It was a good job we were belted up as we met the tarmac rather forcefully.

After a short taxi our air bridge was attached and we made the short trip through a near deserted passport control and on to baggage reclaim. 

There did not seem to be any kind of priority tags on our bags, or anyone else’s for that matter but at least with midnight approaching the wait was short. We exited the terminal and walked straight across the road to our lodgings for the night, Courtyard Prague Airport.

Hotel: Courtyard Prague Airport
 Studio – Room 605
Status: Bonvoy Gold

Despite the late hour we were warmly and proactively welcomed in English at the front desk and immediately we felt right at home. We’d been upgraded to a studio room on the 6th floor with an airport view. I’m assuming they don’t get many Bonvoy Golds on a Friday night in Prague as the lady checking us in had clearly been anticipating our arrival, maybe we were the last to check in and she just wanted to go to bed!

Our room was quiet and comfortable, featuring a large living room and a separate bedroom with a big comfy bed that was so high off the ground it required climbing gear to get in. 

We settled in, got ready for bed and were soon away in the clouds. We wanted to start the day at a reasonable time so a good night’s sleep was vital. The bed was lovely and comfortable and we slept well. The only minor complaint about our room was from Anne-So who found that the bathroom mirror did not particularly lend itself to the application of make up.

The glorious airport view definitely made it slightly easier to get up on time.

We headed down to breakfast and were greeted with a fantastic, “Dobry den!” Unfortunately this wonderful greeting was offset by a lack of clean tables for us to sit at. In the end we found a corner and settled in. Everything for breakfast was from the buffet including coffee and juice.

I started with a savoury run of sausages, eggs and bacon.
I finished with a sweet run of pastries and a chocolate muffin.

Quality was acceptable and no more. On a side note I did notice they had a big pile of instant noodles and kimchi hidden at the side of the buffet which was not something I was expecting to see, I’m assuming the hotel must receive a noticeable volume of Korean guests.

Rested and fed, it was then time to check out as we had a busy day ahead of us. This stay definitely exceeded our expectations, from the excellent price, a generous upgrade and largely friendly service it was the perfect spot for our late arrival and subsequent morning departure.

A Cheapskate’s Weekend in Prague Index

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