Prague Valentine's Day Gift Ideas 2011

Heather O'Brien suggests some new ways to say "I love you" on February 14

Regardless of whether you are single or taken, Valentine's Day seems to stir the despair and frustration of many. If you are single, well, it's because so many other love birds are running around buying each other flowers and sending them to work (and then you get to look at those lovely flowers for the rest of the week... thanks, girl in cubicle 3).


And forget about getting into any restaurants in the days leading up to the big 1-4. Then, of course, there are always the hopeless gift-buyers; the ones that buy their significant other something tacky or just downright dreadful. "Yes, I love that you bought me a waxing gift certificate for Valentine's Day," says your girlfriend.


But fear not, friends, single or taken, I have compiled a list of the best gifts for both men and women and at any price range.


 




A STAYCATION OR A VACATION - THE CHOICE IS REALLY UP TO YOU
With the economy remaining stagnant most of us will opt for that wondrous term -- taking a staycation. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, this is when one does not leave the area in which one lives, beyond perhaps a 100-kilometer radius, in order to enjoy a cheaper holiday than, say, travelling to China for a week. And what lovely deals could we have possibly found for you?




MANDARIN ORIENTAL PRAGUE HOTEL

This amazingly luxurious hotel, located in Malá Strana, has once again cooked up an offer too good to pass up. Flowers and food in your suite, a two-hour couples spa treatment, a one-hour scenic tour of Prague, champagne and breakfast in bed (yes please), and the final touch: monogrammed his-and-hers robes, to keep! Of course, this comes at a lofty price tag, with rooms from 525 euros a night, but if you have the cash to spare, why not?

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




CHATEAU HOTEL ZBIROH

Staying in a Bohemian castle has to bring out the Cinderella in any girl and a location just 40 kilometers from Prague (20 minutes in city speak) means that you don't even need to put on those glass slippers to make that wish come true. For the foodies, a romantic dinner for two can be arranged in the chateau's cavern for 1,100 CZK per person, or you can take tea in the afternoon followed by a tour of the chateau and its grounds for 480 CZK. There is a restaurant on the premises, plus a wellness center to recuperate in after all that eating and romance. Rooms start at 3,600 CZK a night but discounts are given if you stay more than one night. Breakfast is included in the price as well as onsite parking.

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




PRAVĚ PIVNÍ LÁZNĚ - CHODOVAR

A staycation that combines what men love --beer -- and what women love -- massages and being pampered -- into one seamless gift from the heavens. Welcome, my friends, to the Original Beer Spa of Chodovar. There are apparently healing powers in your beer bath. For starters, it's excellent at melting away stress. But how could you be stressed when you are sitting in a bathtub full of beer? Treatments for two people include: 2 x 20-minute baths, 2 x 20 minutes of relaxation, and a 0.3ml glass of lager straight from the brewery on the same grounds. All of these lovely things will cost 600 CZK per person or 1,200 CZK for two. There are also add-ons that start at 250 CZK but which won't top 650 CZK.


Finished soaking in beer? Why not book a room at the hotel right around the corner? Hotel U Sládků has double rooms and twin rooms from 1,450 CZK for one night over the weekend of February 12-13 (price correct at time of writing). Once you've had your fill of the spa, take a walk over to the brewery and restaurant where you can finish your weekend learning even more about beer and eating a fantastic meal to cap off a romantic weekend.

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




FLY TO VENICE WITH WIZZ AIR

Described as, "the most beautiful city built by man," by the New York Times, Venice has had a long history of getting the best out of its local artists. The art, the songs, the seafood, and just the pure romance that permeate every square inch of this city are uniquely Venetian. For those looking for something different and relatively cheap why not pop over to Venice for the weekend? From February 12-15, Wizz Air has a special where your total trip will cost an impressively small sum of 1,484 CZK per person for a return ticket. Look on Hotels.com to save money on a room; you'll need it for your 80 euro gondola ride!

Official Wizz Air Website


 




FOR THE PERSON YOU ARE SWEET ON
The four C's -- candies, cakes, chocolates and cookies -- are always a nice touch on Valentine's Day, but perusing the aisles of Tesco hoping for those "special" sweets can often end with you leaving empty-handed or with a box that is less than thrilling. For the same price as a box of Orion, if not cheaper, you and your significant other could be eating delicious gourmet chocolates. Another plus: your friend or partner will love your creativity!


 




MAXWEET.COM

This website offering bouquets you can eat was founded in the Czech Republic just five months ago by an Israeli expat. I came across this little gem of a company while being a good person during the holiday season and visiting as many charity markets as I could fit into my schedule. What makes Maxweet.com so great? Well, delivery is available for purchases of 400 CZK or more throughout Prague. And most of their products start at a reasonable 500 CZK (delivery and VAT included) and go up to 1,000 CZK depending on the size of your candy bouquet. The other fantastic thing about Maxweet treats; you knock out flowers and candy in one go! (Available online only.)

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




CACAO SAMPAKA

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what special holidays are made of. With distinctive flavors like curry (yes, I have tried it, and it is amazing!), saffron, thyme, and jasmine tea, this Spanish company is sure to please even the fussiest partner. With 30 unique chocolate bars to choose from in store, you are never at a loss what to buy that special someone. Perhaps you are more of a truffle person: check out the flower and herb, spices, fruit, or single bean origin. With boxes ranging from four to 64 pieces, you can mix and match as many flavors as you see fit. Another plus, the staff speaks English very well!

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




GOLD PRALINES

Traditional chocolates at their finest can be found at three easily accessible locations in Prague. Known for their high quality products and reasonable prices, these are more for the traditional romantic in your relationship. Boxes start at four pieces and move up to tin sizes. And while you are there, why not get a little something for yourself? I dare you to not eat it as you are walking out of the store! (Available in three locations in Prague 1.)

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




FOR DOMESTIC GODS AND GODDESSES OF FINE HOMES
They say your home is your castle, and while I could find finer castles in the Czech Republic, my lovely apartment suits me just fine. Though my home may not be a palace, there is no reason that it should smell old, have terrible kitchenware or stemware, or why, every once in a while, I can't feel like a pampered princess.




BOHEMIAPOTHECARY.COM

A reed diffuser for the rest of us. Bohemiapothecary, started by two friends who worked in interiors before coming up with their own product, carries 100% natural oil diffusers, room sprays, and pure essential oils that are perfect for any space in your home or apartment. The trendy reed diffusers used in aromatherapy seem to be the big "home trend" at the moment in the Czech Republic, as every home store seems to be competing to see who has the most expensive bottle. At Bohemiapothecary, a 100 ml bottle will cost an astonishingly cheap 200 CZK. Need more fragrance in your apartment for that big date? Buy the 200 ml bottle for 300 CZK. There are four distinct fragrances to choose from: Calm, Provence, Celebrate, and Balance. Let the French Lavender in Provence entrance your partner as they enter into your "palace" for their romantic evening. And after you've had a meal fit for a king or queen let Balance, with hints of blood orange, cold-pressed lemon, and rosemary coax you into the bedroom where I promise you will be sticking around for the entire evening!

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




PRAGUE CULINARY ACADEMY

I have never been a kitchen whizz kid and tend to shy away from recipes longer than eight ingredients. For those of you who are kitchen- and/or recipe-challenged, this is more or less for you. The Prague Culinary Academy can help you become a professional chef or, at the very least, can teach you the necessary skills you need in order to not burn every dinner. Classes will be held February-July 2011 in conjunction with two partner locations with class information (food preparation and costs) to be posted within the next week or two on their website. If you are looking for something a bit more intimate, Prague Culinary Academy can provide that with their Chef at Home experience. Prices start around 4,000 CZK, but it depends solely upon which gourmet menu you choose. There are add-ons like music, flowers and rentals, but they will add to your final cost.

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




POTTEN & PANNEN

For the serious cook in your house, why not help make their experience of preparing your favorite foods more unforgettable by buying them some lovely kitchen equipment from this high-end store? Drooling over kitchen knives by Zwilling J.A. Henckles? Yearning for the savoir-faire of Emile Henry's bake-ware? Coveting the stemware of your always-cheerful, have-it-all neighbor? Potten & Pannen's products will make the Seven Deadly Sins seem less appealing. Not a chef? Americans will be overjoyed to know that Potten & Pannen also stocks the latest Yankee Candles; 375 CZK for the small and 550 CZK for your larger variety. For more pleasant aromas, they also have a vast collection of Lamp Bergers, room sprays, and reed diffusers.

Official eShop | Prague Directory Listing


 




UNIQUE GIFTS FOR A UNIQUE PERSON
There are always the standard four C's and, of course, flowers and jewelry, but what if your significant other or friend is, well, an anomaly who rejects the V-Day gifts? What if they recoil from the thought of gifts purchased at traditional "corporate" stores where The Man tells you what to buy. Perhaps they would rather you spend money on saving the planet or helping young entrepreneurs. While many of the products that we have covered are local and, in fact, handmade, the products below have a certain something about them that makes them kitschy and fun.




FLER.CZ

The ultimate online shopping experience for all things handmade. A creative site developed in 2008 by a husband-and-wife team who found it incredibly difficult to sell their products to consumers without having to sell their souls to showrooms or galleries. Thus, Jiří Kubeš and his wife created Fler.cz as a way for local artisans (around 7,000 in total) to connect with people throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia without the need for middle men. (The only "real" middle man involved is your bank... We can't cut it out entirely.) Need earrings for that big date night? Gentlemen, need to look dapper with a new tie? With a wide variety of men's, women's and kids' clothing, foodstuffs and home goods, your choices are endless. The Czech-language website is broken down into categories and colors, which makes it really easy to find those black cufflinks you have been searching for. If you are looking for a certain holiday theme, hit the button that says "Svátky". This will automatically take you to the Valentine's Day gifts, as well as other themed holiday gifts.

Website


 




ZOO PRAHA

As the Prague Zoo celebrates its 80th season, why not help by adopting or sponsoring an animal for an entire year? The minimum price of sponsoring an animal begins at 100 CZK while the price of adoption depends on the type of animal you choose. Assume, however, that your starting adoption rate will be 1,000 CZK. The English-language section of the website is unfortunately less than helpful in regards to which animals currently do not have sponsors/adoptive parents and their adoption fees for the year. The information is, however, listed on the Czech version of the site, along with all of the costs. And what do you get for sponsoring an animal of the caliber of, say, a Dwarfed Mongoose or a Little Grebe (a water bird): a certificate of adoption and sponsorship, your animal posing for you in front of a camera, a free family ticket to the zoo, invitations to important events, a flashy magazine, and a tag with your animal's name on it! The lions and other big cats are incredibly expensive, so unless you are willing to spend 50,000 CZK, I suggest you stick to animals that are cute and small. (Available online or at the zoo itself.)

Official Website | Prague Directory Listing


 




GLOBAL STAR REGISTRY

What could be more special than "buying" your significant other the moon and stars? Some people can say they own very expensive jewelry or the "it" handbag, but how many can say they have their own star named after them? And yes, you can only have one star with one name. Your star registry includes a certificate with the name of your star along with its location, a silver-plated pendant engraved with your star's constellation, as well as its astronomical coordinates. Prices range from $108 to $195 (1,975 CZK to 3,565 CZK) depending on your package. The other do-gooder part of this story: 5% of your contributions will go to UNICEF.

Website

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