Before setting out on a cottage weekend, read our article on How to Survive a Czech Summer Cottage Stay
Having a weekend cottage seems to be as much a part of the Czech national identity as good beer and dumplings. The origin of this tradition goes back to the 1920s. At that time, it was a means for those with money to relax and enjoy a short getaway from the city. The custom spread in the 60s because it was an antidote to the dreariness of life in the panelák estates. One chatař told me it was his protest to life under the former regime. Irrespective of which explanation you believe, the point is that quaint accommodation out of the big smoke of the city is not to hard to find in this country.
First of all some terminology, what we English speakers think of as a cottage has two words in Czech. They are ‘chalupa’ or ‘chata’. The difference according to Martina Lžičařová, editor-in-chief of the magazine Chatař & Chlalupář, is that the former are “traditional folk constructions in a village, often renovated wall-face. They can be built from wood, stone as well as brick.” The latter is “a small cottage, usually made of wood. Most chatas were built in the 60s and 70s of the last century, when there was a shortage of building material on the market in (sic) the Czech Republic, considering the socialist system.” These cottages are also often found in settlements dedicated to such recreational living.
Whether you choose a chalupa or chata, the thing to check for is whether the place charges per night (za noc), week (za týden) or per person per night (za osobu za noc). When it comes to sleeping arrangements, check whether the beds are defined as lůžko (ordinary bed) or přistýlka (fold away bed). It might spare a few nerves if people know where they are sleeping.
Costs not mentioned in the rental price could include a deposit (záloha). The price could be between 1000 and 5000 CZK. Another cost could be utilities such as water and electricity. The owner may even charge you for the firewood. Lastly, if you use an agency, some may charge for their service. The best thing to do is to ask about this and any other additional charges. One tip to save some money, consider renting in the low season (mimo sezonu).
Chata Tours, a mediating agency, is a good place to start if you’re not so familiar with summer cottages or the Czech Republic. Their website is in English and there you will find prices and terms and conditions. They rate the cottages from one to four, four being the best. Under each description are icons about pets, garden size, parking, proximity of the woods, swimming pools, supermarkets and restaurants among others. Placing your cursor on these will tell you how far these facilities are or, in the case of pets, whether you can bring them. They even run a photo competition, information about which can be found under General Terms. You can search for cottages based on regions, or you can click on the type of holiday you want (options listed on the left in green) and they will display a suitable cottage. The most intriguing of the buttons is ‘Unusual Stayings.’ They also list cottages in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
Tour Trend also offers a website in English. They offer cottages both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. You can search by region or if you’re looking for cottages for the summer or cottages with swimming pools.
e-chalupy.cz is your meat and potatoes, or that should be pork and dumplings, website. There’s a snapshot of the premises with some basic information. When you click on your desired location, you get more info plus interior shots. At the top are little icons for bus, train, restaurant, supermarket, pets etc. with relevant information revealed when the cursor is moved over them. The website is in Czech and doesn’t give its terms and conditions.
Pronájem Chaty a Chalupy lets you check the difference between these cottages for yourself. You can search by region or season, clicking on ‘Letní pobyt’ for summer or ‘zimní pobyt’ if you want to plan ahead for winter. This agency charges 200 CZK for its services. Terms and Conditions can be found under ‘Obchodní podmínky.’
Pronájemchalpu.net is run through the real estate agent Bora. One nice touch with this place is that they do offer listings with swimming pools (chalupy s bazény na léto). This agency charges 300 CZK for their services.
Agentura Chata also offers cottages based on region. They have a similar icon system as other agencies, showing facilities, proximity to services and the like. Beneath the entries for individual cottages is a table of available weeks. White means that time is free. Pink means the cottage is booked.
If you are looking for a place with a more specialized touch, Malina Reality offers places in the Beskydy region. These low hills in the southeast of the country are famous for their beautiful wilderness. It’s claimed this is the only region in the Czech Republic where bears have been seen in recent years. The company’s website offers information about other services in the region and 360º views of the exterior and interior of potential cottages.
I-pronajem.cz is another option in case none of the above appeals. There are numerous resources available to help you spend some time in the Czech countryside; this list should at least help you get started.
And as always, if you have experience renting a cottage in the Czech Republic or other recommendations we would love to hear from you.