Café Savoy – an Art Nouveau gem by the Vltava

The Art Nouveau Café Savoy, located on the west bank of the Vltava river near Kampa park, is one of Prague’s grand cafés. First opened in 1893, it was recently restored to its former beauty and has since become a favourite meeting spot for both locals and tourists.

Café Savoy, photo: Ondřej TomšůCafé Savoy, photo: Ondřej Tomšů With its Art Nouveau interior and historic seven-metre-high Neo-renaissance-style ceiling, Café Savoy ranks among Prague’s most beautiful and stylish cafés. It has a spacious interior with tall windows that allow you to look out on the street and watch the world go by while you sip your coffee.

The establishment went through a turbulent history. It opened as a traditional café back in 1893, but had to close down during the First World War. For a while, it hosted an array of shops, including a butcher’s. But the final blow came during the Communist Regime, says its current manager Oldřich Bureš:

“The space served as a recruiting office for the communist police. They covered the historic ceiling with plaster and there were offices on the ground floor. The back part served as a workshop of some kind. The walls of the blue salon were destroyed beyond repair, so what you see today had to been completely renovated.”

Café Savoy, photo: Ondřej TomšůCafé Savoy, photo: Ondřej Tomšů After the Velvet Revolution, several attempts were made to re-open the place. In 2004 it was taken over by its current owners, the Ambiente restaurant chain, who also gave it a new name – Savoy.

Looking for inspiration in Paris and Vienna, they succeeded in re-creating the Belle Époque style, while adding a modern-day touch. Today, one wall is covered from floor to ceiling with wine-shelves and there is a large window overlooking the in-house bakery.

Most importantly, the stunning Art Nouveau ceiling has been renovated to its former beauty and is now a protected site.

Today, Savoy is known mainly for its opulent breakfasts and a Viennese-style menu, which offers a variety of roast meats, salads and more. Veal schnitzels are among the best-selling items on the menu, but people also come for the cakes, says Oldřich Bureš:

Café Savoy, photo: Ondřej TomšůCafé Savoy, photo: Ondřej Tomšů “We should definitely mention the cake Savoy, which is our best-selling desert. The recipe was created by our chef pastry-cook, Lukáš Pohl. We have been making it with the same ingredients ever since. We have also introduced a summer version, with ice-cream and marzipan, and people really like it.”

With its location near the Kampa park and Petřín hill, just a few steps from the Vltava river, Café Savoy is frequented both by locals and tourists and finding a free table can be quite difficult, especially in the mornings. Oldřich Bureš again:

“During breakfast and lunch time, the place is really bursting at the seams, but in the evenings, the atmosphere changes completely. The tables are covered with cloths, lights are dimmed and people come into a completely different atmosphere than it was the morning.”