As the nights draw in and that oh-so-pretty snow turns to grey slush, the idea of venturing outdoors – even if it is to sip a svařák on Old Town Square – becomes less and less appealing. Never fear: Expats.cz café reviewer, Lisette Allen, loves nothing more than to ensconce herself in a cosy café with a cup of warming hot chocolate. Here’s a round-up of her favourite spots to shelter from the elements on chilly days.
Choco Café U Červené židle
Liliova 4/250, Prague 1
When I asked my Prague-based friends for their winter café tips, they unanimously recommended one place: Choco Café. It’s easy to see why. The interior, replete with voluminous sofas and squashy armchairs, has a pretty retro feel without being nauseatingly kitsch. In fact, the only danger of being sick is from consuming too much of their unctuous hot chocolate: it’s literally so thick you could stand a spoon up in it. It comes in over a dozen different flavours so you can try them all during the inclement months – not at once, obviously. There’s a newish branch on Klimentská but as far as cosiness goes, the original location near Betlémské námêstí is still the best. This place has already come top in the Expats.cz hot chocolate round up and it’s my winter cosy café number one.
Tusarova 26, Prague 7
Given that Holešovice is transforming itself from industrial suburb to up-and-coming neighbourhood, there aren’t so many decent cafes to choose from. Coffee Beans is that particular gap in the quality kava market. The interior is bright and appealing with an old-world feel: think Café Louvre but minus the pink walls and the poor service. There are lots of stripy sofas but they’re reminiscent of a fin-de-siècle salon rather than marshmallow monstrosities. One of the best venues in the neighbourhood to snuggle up with a book, take the kids for a slice of cake or have a lengthy catch up with your girl (or boy) friends.
Moravská 1540/18, Prague 2
I do like a cosy café to have some seriously comfortable seating so I can while away a couple of hours sipping at a hot beverage and praying that the rain/sleet/snow/gale force icy winds will die down before I have to stick my head outside again. Sofas and armchairs often add up to a ‘granny chic’ style interior which is not everyone’s cup of tea – or freshly ground coffee. If you want squashy seating in a sleek, modern interior, head to Vinohrady’s Monolok. They do a mean brunch and have plenty of additional space downstairs too.
Bella Vida Café
Malostránské nábřeží 3, Prague 1
The sofa count in this upmarket Mala Strana gem is high, the coffee is great and in winter they serve up svarak with almonds and raisins – the perfect way to boost your body temperature after a romantic stroll around Kampa. Tuck yourself away behind the bookshelves in the back or take a seat near the window and admire the gorgeous view over the river – on the day of my visit, I could see the sunlight glinting on the gilded roof of Narodni Divadlo. It’s Prague at its most picture postcard perfect – best admired from indoors when the temperature turns chilly.
Café Kafíčko Míšeňská
Míšeňská 67/10, Prague 1
Café Kaficko has no squishy seating – their interior is the stripped down shabby chic that screams ‘we’re not a tourist trap, we’re the real deal!’ Despite this, it still feels snug and homey. It gets the thumbs up from me as a decent spot to rest your legs in Mala Strana – it’s only 50m from Charles Bridge – if you’re after a more down-to-earth vibe than Bella Vida. They also have a special menu ‘for cold days’ which includes hot ginger, mead, grog and of course, svařák.
U Zlatého Kohouta
Michalská 3, Praha 1
A cajovna – or tea house – is a place you come to linger, not just to grab a quick caffeine hit on the run. In other words, it’s the ideal refuge when the snow levels switch from the odd charming flake to unbearable blizzard. Tucked away down a side street behind Můstek, U Zlatého Kohouta is replete with cosy nooks and crannies where you can chill out with a pot of Oolong or Darjeeling when the temperature drops below zero. Score a seat near the open fire and you might end up feeling so toasty you’ll never want to leave.
Jana Zajíce 7, 170 00 Prague 7
Regular readers will notice that I’ve already given Alchymista Cukrárna a shout out in the top ten café gardens feature. Well, people, I’m shamelessly plugging it again – because it’s just that darn good. The range of coffee is excellent – devotees to the bean can pay a visit to Prague’s coffee museum next door – and there’s hot chocolate on the menu too, all served up in adorable crockery decorated with the Alchymista Cukrárna logo – a wizard, of course. The cakes are just as delicious in winter as in summer. There’s a lack of sofas to sink into, granted, but otherwise, this place is simply magical.
Lublaňská 676/50, Prague 2
The clue to Pražírna’s unique selling point is in its name, the Czech word for coffee roasting plant. Yep, you guessed it – all their beans are roasted on the premises. A basement cafe (don’t worry, it isn’t dark and dingy) is bound to be more appealing in winter than when there’s blazing sunshine. Despite its stripped-down interior – the walls are unadorned brick apart from the odd arty black and white photo – Pražírna somehow manages to be cosy rather than austere. Since opening about a year ago, it’s become hugely popular: the last time I stopped by, many tables were reserved so if you’re planning a big meet-up, it might be wise to book ahead.
Hybešova 516/2, Prague 8
Divoké matky (aka “wild mothers”) is a kids-friendly café in Karlin set up by a group of Czech celebrities who wanted to create a quirky hangout for parents with small children. There’s a sizeable playroom with a climbing frame and plenty of toys scattered around to keep little hands occupied. It’s the only café I know of in Prague where there are tons of beanbags for you to slouch on – how cosy is that? – and kids are positively encouraged to run wild which has got to be a plus for parents. Our previous reviewer gave this place a lukewarm review not long after it opened, but as she pointed out herself, she wasn’t really the right demographic.
Café de Paris
U Obecního domu 1080/1, Prague 1
Not to be confused with the Mala Strana-based French brasserie of the same name, this Art Nouveau gem is housed in Hotel Paříž, used by Bohumil Hrabal as the setting for lavish banquets in his comic masterpiece, I Served the King of England. There’s still decadence to be had if you can afford to splash out – the caviar with toasted brioche will set you back 4,000 CZK. For those of more modest financial means, the winter warmer menu has non-alcoholic Cranberry punch, grog and good old mulled wine for a more affordable 110 CZK – and yes, there are plenty of comfy seats.
Have we missed something? Let us know below.