Café Imperial

Motto: Mix of styles makes harmony

Café Imperial is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Imperial in Prague 1,
1072/15 Na Poříčí St.

History

The hotel in which the Café Imperial is located was built in the place of the original inn At Black Eagle (U černéhoorla), which was demolished during the urban renewal of Prague. The lot was bought by brothers Kolář, who had owned Paris Hotel.

The Hotel Imperial was constructed in the years 1913-1914 according to the design of the architect Jaroslav Benedikt. The ceramic wall tiles were manufactured according to the design of Jan Beneš, the interion was complemented by the sculptures by Josef Drahoňovský.

As during the World War II the hotel became a favorite place of German soldiers, Czech clients avoided visiting it at that time.

After the nationalization in 1948 the Hotel Imperial became a hotel of Trade Unions, and so it was not accessible for current visitors of Prague.

In 2005-2007 the hotel went thorough reconstruction and it has preserved its appearance up to now.

The café of the Hotel Imperial cannot boast with famous visitors of the first Republic like Café Louvre or Café Slavia. It is known that occasionally Franz Kafka visited the Café Imperial, but his favorite one was the café Arco in Hybernská street, the hub of German speaking writers and intellectuals living in Prague. The composer LeošJanáček used to come to the Café Imperial as well, and when the Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg stayed in Prague, he accommodated himself in the Hotel Imperial.

Since its opening in 1914 the Café Imperial has been one of the favorite Prague´s cafés. The structure has been built in the Art Deco style with cubist and Art Modern elements. It reflects the time when it was built. It was the time when archeological excavations in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece appeared. The Orient Express used to go regularly and the Hotel Imperial was suitably locatedin neighborhood of two largest Prague´s railway stations.

In 1979 the Hotel Imperial was proclaimed a national cultural monument.

Our impressions

We set off to the Café Imperial for a cup of coffee without previous reservation. We entered the café through the corner entrance. Another possibility how to get inside the café is the entrance through the reception of the Hotel Imperial.

After entering the café, we were addressed by a young lady standing at the reservation counter. She asked us about the reservation. We were lucky, not all places were taken.

The café consists of two rectangular rooms. They arearranged perpendicularly, which brings maximum of daylight from both neighboring streets to the interior and gives a special impression – the impression of something that is completely different from a common type of interion to which we are used.

The interior of the café gives a very special impression – the impression of something that is completely different from the type of the interior to which we are used.

The mixture of most different styles and design inspiration that are interwoven, might be called eclecticism. The definition of eclecticism says that all elements that are on hand are used and they are, however, arranged according to a certain designer´s project. Grey ceramic wall tiling, which gives ice-cold impression, in combination with huge buttresses and in contrast to warm wood tiling is visually very attractive. The mosaic ceiling complements the overall impression of the space of the café. The appearance of the toilets is also made for effect. Swing music comes out of loudspeakers. One can´t miss splendid water taps in the shape of golden swan necks, which are on the border of “kitsch”, but I like them. I think they fit the style of the café.

I visited this café at the time before it was reconstructed, under socialism, and I remember being very attracted by its interior. All the tiles were, however, covered with a grayish yellow layer originating in cigarette smoke. Quite a lot of them were insensitively repaired, the way that was common under socialism. Among the original wall tiles there were plain white tiles as substitution for the broken original ones.

The reconstruction of the interior was exceptionally successful.

The name Café Imperial may lead to misunderstanding. It doesn´t give the proper information saying that apart from a cup of coffee and a dessert, in the café you may also have breakfast, lunch or dinner, which is evident from the menu card. The assortment of desserts, gateaux and cakes is wide. Ice cream and sorbet of various kinds are part of the offer. The café provides coffee of different sorts, including ice coffee. As for wine, you may get Czech, Italian and French sorts. I was pleased to find among beverages that were offered also my favorite Metaxa 7*.

We offered espresso lungo, praline gateau and crémebrulée. With the espresso a nickel silver pitcher filled with boiling water was served together with a glass of cold water. We were not very enchanted by the taste of the espresso. The gateau was fantastic, not only by its appearance, but also by its taste. The marzipan icing was melting on the tongue. Crémebruléewas soft, its consistence exquisite, with a thin caramelized crust on the surface. Attending personnel were attentive and with certain discreetness, and it gave a feeling of their being “ship shape”, as if they have put on snow white starched uniforms in a cloakroom a few minutes ago. Prices are not low, but considering the whole level of the café they are favorable. The overall impression of the café is very pleasant: exceptional interior, perfect attendance and service. We will return to this café with pleasure.

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