Czech please: a design lover’s guide to Prague


Czech please: a design lover’s guide to Prague

Must-see spots for design devotees in the capital including beer halls, boutiques and espresso bars

Kate Weir

BY Kate Weir12 April 2016

When BoHo Hotel opened, it opted for a crisp minimal look that deviates from the ‘throw three more spires on that’, ‘needs more pediments’ maximalism of its Old Town setting. The hotel is emblematic of the sleek lines and sculptural shapes new Czech designers are using to cut cleanly through Prague’s heavily frosted coating, unifying the Eastern Bloc’s stern functionalism with folk craftsmanship and a dash of Kafka-esque absurdity. We’ve explored the city’s mythic wynds and grand squares to pick the boutiques, restaurants and bars telling OTT embellishment to smooth over…

Cihelna Concept Store has a monastic feel, with handcrafted glass and porcelain objets d’art exhibited reverently against white walls. But the shop, which is curated by owner Silvie Lubenova, is more hip than habit-bound, and Lasvit’s burnished chandeliers and Maxim Velcovsky’s trinkets deserve a one-way trip back home.

(Very) alternatively: if flowers arranged in a ceramic Wellington boot, ornate crystal pinched with plastic pegs and candles melting over dolls’ heads scream ‘taste’ to you: Qubus has curiosities that metamorphose the bonkers into the beautiful.

Best of the rest
Potten & Pannen’s cooler-than-thou kitchenware and Analogue’s colourful Lomography cameras.

Intimidatingly talented Czech fashion designer Hana Zarubova’s brand is called ‘no’. Ironic, because we say ‘yes’ to her entire collection. Her clothing is the illicit love child of science and style: billowing parachute-silk gowns, asymmetrically cut neoprene and a coat that becomes its own bag – meta. Contact her studio on Biskupsky to see her shapely wares.

Gents, get your mitts on jailhouse-striped trousers and collarless shirts (which are unisex enough for girlfriends to ‘borrow’) at Sisterconspiracy. They do a fine line in cosy shirt dresses and soft knits, too.

Best of the rest
Katerina Geislerova’s sculptured woollens and leather obi belts and Chatty’s scribbled-on sweaters.

Phill’s Twenty7 ditches the art-nouveau excess of Czech tea rooms, favouring Danish-style furnishings, whitewashed exposed brick and eye-catching tiling. The remarkably reasonable menu is on trend, with chilli-and-parmesan-shaken Brussels sprouts and wasabi-laced Japanese hot dogs. We have pangs for its start-with-a-bang breakfast menu, too.

Nejen Bistro’s neoclassical pistachio-shaded shell, in the increasingly hip Karlin district, gives way to cool contemporaneity: patchwork tiles, oak floors, painted brick. Its Josper Grill – presided over by former butcher Martin Cisar – sizzles with choice meats from around the globe.

Best of the rest
The clean-cut Scandi style of Ema Espresso Bar and Nase Maso’s meaty sandwiches.

Frank Gehry’s deconstructivist icon, Dancing House (named for its ‘resemblance’ to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), has divided opinion. The restaurant at its crown, Ginger & Fred, is more crowd-pleasing: relatively simple dishes (grilled catfish, duck ravioli drizzled in truffle oil…) are assembled with equal architectural ingenuity – expect fish-bowl salads and edible turrets – and, the Vltava looks ravishing from here.

Aside from the fire-truck-red art installation jutting into the pristine white space, Field Restaurant lets its cuisine colour the decor. The space is a white cube for showcasing dishes that dabble in Expressionist splotches and smudges. And BoHo Hotel’s restaurant lures aesthetes with clean-cut marble counters and a Japanese-minimalist-style roof installation.

Best of the rest
Rustic interiors and get-in-my-mouth meats at Argentinian joint Gran Fierro are fabuloso.

The Czech rep for beer is legendary. But in recent years, the country’s raided its wine cellar and dusted off the best bottles. Prosekarna specialises in prosecco – we like the cork-shaped stools, fireplace and moreish bruschetta.

If a beer hall’s a bit too mediaeval, T-Anker takes drinkers to new heights with open-air pavilions on the roof of Kotva department store. Brace yourself for a 60-bottle-strong menu, nine taps and a selection of Czech minibrews – summon the beer sommelier if indecision strikes.

Best of the rest
Buddha Bar’s exotic neon-flecked cocktails and environs, and NoD’s performance space-cum-café for extraordinarily cheap Staropramen and a show.

Don’t stop there: design your perfect city break with our boutique hotels in Prague.