For my dad's birthday, our family planned a last minute getaway to Prague. When we arrived, Prague had a completely different feel in comparison to the other European capitals and we were all taken completely by surprise in the best possible way. I wasn't sure what to expect initially, Prague had a stigma for me - a notion that it would be loud, full of stag do's and potentially a little seedy but in fact, it was the total opposite. It was the most peaceful and calming city I have visited. There were no rowdy groups, no rowdy bars and instead beautiful, unassuming wine bars tucked down the side streets of picturesque suburban squares housing independent cafes and delicatessens. Prague is unspoiled by modernism and it completely charms you instantly. Walking over Charles Bridge you can imagine the city as it would have been hundreds of years ago, it was romantic in a way I couldn't envisage. The pastel coloured buildings and cobbled streets are so picturesque and standing overlooking the city on top of Letna Park hill, I was in heaven. There were so many moments were I could only describe the city as magical. We stayed in a two bedroom Airbnb rental located in the centre of Old Town, a lively, bustling neighbourhood at the heart of Prague. Pretty much all of Prague is historical and the buildings are all architecturally exciting, but Old Town has a certain charm of its own and didn't feel touristy at all. By the end of the trip, I fell so in love with Prague and its relaxed way of life.
CAFES & RESTAURANTS
Valentinská 11/56, 110 00 Staré Město
Trying to whittle it down to just one image for this cafe was beyond difficult. The food tasted amazing and the presentation was exceptional, but let me quickly relive the interiors for you. Bare plaster walls (I mean would it be featured on my list if it didn't have some sort of exposed plaster work) are covered in hanging lights and mirrors, surrounded by lush climbing trees and potted plants. The chairs were steel white, patio furniture style and the main dining room lead out on to a large glass conservatory with a plant wall and an indoor garden. Mistral Cafe has one of the most beautiful interiors I have ever seen. It was light and vibrant - and anywhere filled with greenery gets my vote. Now on to the food, Mum and I ordered a fresh mint tea with the baked pancakes which were topped with sour cream and fresh raspberry sauce. Jamie opted for the French toast with a fruit salad and Dad chose the scrambled eggs with a side salad served with homemade bread. The food was light and delicious. Mistral goes straight to the top of my list of European cafes.
Letohradská 557/44, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice
I cannot describe to you how good the waffles were at Cafe Letka. I consider myself a pretty good judge of waffles and pancakes, considering I always order them from the menu wherever I go. However the waffles at Cafe Letka were a cut above the rest, hands down - no competition! Crisp on the outside and chewy in the centre, smothered in salted caramel, orange and nut brittle and topped with a caramelised banana. The whole table sat in silence devouring every mouthful, no surer sign of a good meal. Not to mention the delicious side of fresh natural yoghurt, topped with raspberry jam and homemade muesli and poached pears. Incredible tasting, homemade plates of food enjoyed in a rustic yet glamorous setting. Check out the diamond chandeliers and pink mirror frames over on my instagram page!
Bubenečská 12, 160 00 Praha 6
We came to Misto for a lunch break, wanting something light and simple to eat after a heavy breakfast earlier on. It was the perfect spot. Offering a very small and simple menu, we ordered the beetroot and mozzarella salad with some tapas sharing sides. The shaved coconut and apple made a delicious salad topper and the marinated cheeses and olives were full of flavour, but the highlight for me was the sweet and salty roasted almonds. I took some home in a takeaway coffee cup so my family could experience just how good they were! The cafe itself was spacious with lots of large communal tables, which I love. Immediately I made a beeline for a local man and his tiny Jack Russell who was curled up asleep on his lap. I love a dog friendly eatery, it is so important for me as I know the struggles of having our own dog at home. The staff were friendly and Misto offered the perfect casual atmosphere. Again, the interior was to die for. What can I say? the Czech's just know how to do design well. The walls were wood clad with matching tables and the chairs were large and comfortable, with an Eames' egg style shape. The concrete counter was full of homemade pastries and sweet treats too. Definitely worth a stop, even just for a coffee! A good neighbourhood communal cafe.
Smetanovo nábř. 334/4, 110 00 Staré Město
The SmetanaQ building is home to an art and design centre which provides space and meeting rooms for Czech artists and designers to meet. Hence there being a lot of gorgeous Czech art instalments featured in the space. The cafe and bistro is at the heart of the building and was initally designed as a social, welcoming space for local creatives to meet but is now also public facing. The pastry chef prepares a variety of cakes, tarts and fruit pies daily and the main menu offers mostly classic breakfast and lunch options. There is also a selection of delicious savoury desserts, quiches and sourdough breads. You are pretty much spoilt for choice here. I opted for the homemade waffles slathered in Nutella and fresh strawberries, whilst the rest of the group ordered the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on homemade sourdough. It was delicious and such an enjoyable experience to be surrounded by creative people and beautiful artworks.
Haštalská 755 15, 110 00 Praha 1 - Staré Město
Onesip seems like the tiniest coffee shop in the world, although the photo does make it appear larger than it actually is. It has just three small stools in the window sill and only serves a blend of coffees, bottled soft drinks, two homemade pastries and hot chocolate. Naturally I ordered a hot chocolate to warm me up from the cold Czech weather. The barista simply melted a bar of 70% pure cocoa down and added nothing else to it at all. I sat in the sill watching the world go by and drank my bitter sweet chocolate with joy. It really is a delicious little escape here, grab a book and spend a while.
Vítězná 124/5, Malá Strana, 150 00 Praha-Smíchov
A real Prague hot spot known locally for its big breakfast servings and instagrammers galore, snapping photos of their attractive plates of food. Café Savoy recreates the atmosphere of the cafés of the First Czechoslovakian Republic and the incredible interior and furnishings are influenced by the listed Neo-Renaissance ceiling dating back to 1893. Its hard not to see why Café Savoy is so popular. The breakfast menu is generous, but eventually we decided upon the porridge and the scrambled eggs which were both delicious. It was such a wonderful dining experience sitting in this glorious building, I would say to get there early or try to book if possible as the restaurant can get very busy. Also a tip would be to avoid the lunch menu as it isn't up to much in comparison to the breakfast.
Kozí 916/5, 110 00 Staré Město
It was the last morning of our stay in Prague and we had two hours to kill before heading to the airport so decided to grab a local breakfast. Home Kitchen was across the road from our apartment and we had walked past every day often commenting on how busy it was and how nice the food looked. We chose Home Kitchen more out of convenience as opposed to anything else as being a small chain based in Prague we worried it might lack the independent, rustic feel. The interiors aren't exceptionally exciting and the breakfast airs more on the traditional Czech side - but the pancakes with jam compote were faultless and a total suprise. They tasted amazing! No frills or fancy accompaniments and delicious still none the less. The homemade granola with honey and yoghurt hit the spot too!
YE'S CAFE / STUDIO
Letenské nám. 5, 170 00 Praha 7
Local favourite ye's cafe is a great place for a quick tea/coffee break. There isn't a huge selection of drinks and no food menu, but the community feel and simplicity of this place is the appeal.
BISTRO PROTI PROUDU
Březinova 471/22, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín
Port Proudi is a simple, healthy Nordic inspired bistro which offers light and tasty breakfasts and lunches all day long. The atmosphere is casual and friendly and it feels very much like a local neighbourhood bistro but with a more minimal approach to cooking. I ordered the avocado on rye with pea and mint puree, topped with pea shoots and a poached egg and Jamie, the halloumi and roasted vegetable burger. Simple, vegetarian and tasty, what more could you want for a quick lunch?
Pernerova 49, Karlín, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín-Praha 8
I have been so excited to write about this restaurant, although I feel I could never do it enough justice. From start to finish, Eska Restaurant offered the perfect dining experience. Reasonably priced, friendly and knowledgeable staff serving food which was innovative and exciting to eat. Eska is the kind of place were the flavours and food you are eating are familiar but there is an ingredient on your fork or something appears on your plate that you don't quite recognise. Each mouthful is a delicious surprise and the presentation is beyond brilliant. We ordered two starters, one being celeriac and the other brussels sprouts. The sprouts were crispy and full of flavour, served with a hollandaise sauce and fried kale - I immediately requested another plate of them. For the main course I ordered roasted chicken and artichoke with trumpet mushrooms, potatoe puree and hazelnuts. Jamie ordered trout fillet with salsify, buttermilk and dill. Both dishes were incredible. Mine was wholesome, earthy and autumnal and Jamies summery, fresh and light. We were so full, we could't fit in any room for dessert, a decision upon leaving we both instantly regretted!
U Milosrdných 12, 110 00 Staré Město,
For my dad's birthday meal, we booked ourselves a table at Chef Radek Kašpárek's Michelin Star Restaurant, Field. We walked out of the door to our apartment and across the road and there it was, win! We could't have chosen a more ideal location. None of my family have eaten in a Michelin Star restaurant before so it felt like a special occasion and a real treat. We are all used to eating in nice restaurants, somewhere which usually serves something a little different to the norm, but always somewhere casual and friendly. Beforehand we had a misconception that it could be pretentious and that maybe we wouldn't receive the same level of warmth and conversation in service that we are used to in other eateries, but we were totally wrong! The host took our coats, asked us questions and welcomed us whole heartedly. He explained the menu, helped us with the wine pairings and then served us four amuse bouche complimentary from the kitchen. The food was stunningly put together, as expected, but it was tasty and filling. Each course was so different, full of flavour and satisfying. I couldn't believe how spoilt we were. We all ordered fish starters aside from mum, who was surprised when the waiter came through with a small bowl of soup and accompaniments for her so she didn't feel left out. They took such great care us and went above and beyond to make us feel special.
Korunní 810/104, 101 00 Praha 10-Vinohrady
Bistrot 104 is newly opened restaurant serving Nordic, modern cuisine. There is a definite Scandinavian feel to the restaurant's decor, communal wooden benches clad with sheepskin throws, loose hanging lights and greenery on display. The menu in true Nordic style focuses on sustainability and simplicity with plenty of fish and vegetables on the menu. We opted for the smoked eel, beetroot, avocado served with crème fraîche and dill to start, alongside the roasted pumpkin, goat cheese and almond. A lot of the food we ate in Prague was warm-cold and by the end of the trip we actually really enjoyed eating this way. For our mains we both ordered the sturgeon, broccoli, smoked potato and cucumber which essentially tasted like a gloriously fancy fish and chips. Then to finish we ordered the ambiguous chocolate & hazelnut dessert which was actually just exactly as it says. Smooth chocolate with caramel dripping sauce, some homemade biscotti and crushed hazelnuts. It was all delicious and surprisingly comforting.
OTHER CAFES & RESTAURANTS TO VISIT
EMA ESPRESSO BAR
Malé nám. 458/12, 110 00 Staré Město
Whilst shopping in Prague we noticed a lot of the places on our go to list were independents selling locally made jewellery. In the gorgeous Debut Gallery we chatted to the young assistant working there who explained how him and his friends attend the Prague School of Design and they commission a lot of their peers to create jewellery for Debut. There were some beautiful pieces and they also sell a small selection of clothes which are made locally too. A real treat showcasing some great emerging Czech designers.
Jáchymova 26/2, 110 00 Staré Město
A store which houses all of my favourite luxury skincare and fragrance brands. Ingredients stock Diptyque, Byredo and Aesop candles, body care and fragrances. Situated in Old Town, Ingredients is a minimal boutique where you can experience a personalised retail experience with hosts assisting you in finding a niche fragrance to suit your tastes. Ingredients also offers the only Sisley cosmetic boudoir in the Czech Republic. A selection of facials and beauty treatments that combine special massage rituals and invigorating aromatherapy are also available. A truly calming and relaxed way to shop, Ingredients is a true example of retail therapy.
Pařížská 97/15, 110 00 Josefov
Not independent - or affordable for that matter, but if I could live in any designers clothing for the rest of my days it would be Celine (well until Phoebe Philo announced she was leaving.) I love how Celine offers clothing, assessors and handbags that are wearable and timeless. I found myself lusting after a pair of beautiful gold hoops that would see me from day to night and would go puppy dog eyed whenever I walked past. I do have a birthday approaching so *hint hint.* This trip was on a budget so I forced myself to carry on and forget they ever existed - I still can't. The interior is equally spectacular, marble stairs and broken ceramic speckled tiles are made cosy with plush leather chairs and soft green carpeting. Worth a visit, if only for dreaming up a wishlist.
Hergetova Cihelna 2b, Prague 1
As I was quickly discovering, Prague is the epicentre of all great Czech design with most of the independent stores I visited offering some locally made pieces. Cihelna is a concept store, located near by Charles Bridge, which specialises in design and offers a curated selection of the best contemporary Czech glass, porcelain, jewellery, lighting and home wear. The store is a showroom come gallery and the staff are incredibly insightful and knowledgeable and can help you source something amazing. A hidden gem amongst the tourist mile of souvenir shops.
HAENKE BOTANICAL LAB
Chvalova 1577/12, Prague 3 - Zizkov
Haenke Botanical Lab is an unassuming little store in the Eastern district of Prague, Zizkov. Haenke offer workshops focused on the use of plants within an urban environment. Their mission is to raise awareness about the function of plants in cities as well as their uses all around the world, from medicine to architecture, from design to fashion. As someone who is fascinated by holistic medicine, I wanted to take so many of the plants back to the UK with me, it was fascinating to learn of the different properties and uses of the plants and how best to keep them healthy. I wish we had this store at home!
Klimentská 3110 00 Praha 1
Showroom is a space which houses seven Czech designers from various fields of fashion and jewellery. It also doubles as a workshop and design studio, the studios are ran behind the screens of this glossy concept store where the manager kindly let us have a peek in to. It was full of female designers casting their jewellery and drinking coffee. A great place to get something locally handmade and unique!
Šternberkova 1352/12 170 00 Praha 7
HNST.LY was born when the founders returned from exploring London and had discovered independent stores selling design items for every day living. The aim was to create a space which inhibited something beautiful to use for the menial tasks of daily life and to create a lifestyle where each item in your home is purposeful and handmade. HNST.LY offer handmade accessories for the home, sustainable stationery and natural cosmetics. The products are made with care using natural materials by locals and their minimal range is truly beautiful.
Smetanovo nábř. 334/4 110 00 Prague 1
Deelive is one of the largest galleries in Prague selling Czech interior design pieces. The team follow a great number of Czech designers and aim to select the pieces with the most personality. The gallery aims to display and sell pieces which are executed to perfection but which start with a witty idea and a uniqueness.
OTHER STORES TO VISIT
DOX BY QUBUS