Travel

Belly of the Beast: Prague

With every emerging East European destination still branded the ‘New Prague’ by hackneyed bloggers and beer-goggling Stags, what has become of the once-celebrated expat nirvana. Well, here is the B EAST update: Prague is turning into the ‘New Amsterdam’ with its chilled stance towards soft drugs (Czechs smoke more dope than any other European nation), growing porn industry, Hollywood film shoots, and cosmopolitan vibes.p1.jpg

Given that the Czechs, unlike the Poles or Russkies, aren’t drama queens! the nightlife doesn’t quite rock in the manner of Warsaw or Riga, but it has a nice, laid-back, slacker vibe that is a respite from the high-energy economic churn of the rest of Eastern Europe.And, yes, despite all the tourism, it is still one of the cheapest cities in the region. NIGHT WATCH

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Mecca
Prague’s smacky house club, oh so exciting in the late 90s when electronic music first made inroads into pub culture, now feels dated, and could use a makeover. Still, it packs in the babes and the players—and even rival gangs of Isreali and Palestinian drug dealers—on its kraziest nights. Free Wednesdays, when girls get a cocktail on the house, are the best nights, especially during the summertime, when the in-crowd flees the city on weekends.VISIT MECCA WEBSITE

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Zero

Dandy Andy, the painfully hip English owner, holds a small but friendly bar—with a red VIP room for the Colombian groupies—that has been rocking in recent months as Czech hipsters tune in to its indie-rock vibes and carefree expat decadence. Live DJs from Wednesday through Sat.Dušni 10. Prague 1VISIT ZERO WEBSITE

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Duplex

Once reviled as a cheesy mega-club on the city’s main square, the bi-level space has burst back onto the scene since changing ownership in the spring. Making an effort to be seen as progressive, it hosts an impressive line-up of DJs, magazine launches, fashion parties and other events. Campy thursday nights, with mad-cap DJs Uwe and Lucky Lucasso—who dress up in pirate gear and look like extras from Lawrence of Arabia—are still our favorites though.

VISIT DUPLEX WEBSITE

Nebe

This narrow DJ club is often spoken of in a love/hate manner by Prague’s English-speaking community, but, sooner or later, everyone ends up back in its unpretentious, comforting cellars. Almost certain to be packed on weekdays, Nebe is fast becoming the burgeoning hot bed for Prague’s growing indie-rock scene.Křemensova 10, Prague 2, 19:00-5:00

Cross Club

After Sigourny Weaver creamed H.R. Giger’s famous monster Alien, her spaceship crashed into Prague’s industrial-yet-hip area Holesovice. This club, packed from Friday to Sunday, offers real free techno aesthetics without tracking you in the mud somewhere in a forgotten part of Bohemia. Wires, used computer motherboards, rotating chipsets, the best sound in Prague and drinks for reasonable prices. Local and foreign DJs play fine tunes and the crowd varies from alternative to more serious types. But expect a queue on Friday night to warm you up before kicking the dancefloor.www.crossclub.cz

La Fabrika

It seems Prague likes multifunctional places and La Fabrika is a new addition to the scene. Sensitively-renovated functionalistic interiors, rich theatrical programme, concerts and events such as the Control premiere after-party.http://www.lafabrika.cz/

Bukowski’s

Shabby-chic bar inspired by everyone’s favorite barfly poet already has a following among Prague’s boho expats and Czech girls into White Russian cocktails and wayward conversations. With a cosy backroom for dopeheads, stylish bookshelves, work by local artists and a retro vibe, the bar’s already a B EAST watering hole in the sodden Zizkov neighborhood in East Prague. Owner Glen Emery, formerly from Jo’s Bar, is a longtime friend, who’s upcoming book ‘Prague: The Left Skank of the 90s’ captures the madcap days of yesteryear.

Borijovojova 86.

Le Clan

Ping-pong championships at dawn, toilets with collapsable mirrors and a cool smorgasbord of Prague’s party animals: What more could you expect from an after-hours haunt? This three-story, underground club is a meeting spot for the city’s hard-core partiers who ‘just don’t want to go home yet. All types and classes—Armenian transvestites, Ukrainian glamor girls, Czech porn stars and coke-snorting Yanks—mix on its couches in various states of repose and inebriation. Our favorite Prague club, Le Clan (apart from Studio) is a lone outpost of Boogie Nights-style hedonism in the increasingly bourgeous Czech capital.

Balbinova 23, Prague 2. Open: 18:00-forever

GOURMAND

Café Pavlac

New, modern yet cozy café, just under one of Prague’s most popular cultural spaces, Akropolis, Run by young Czech photographer Milan Jaros, Cafe Pavlac serves delicious and innovative dishes, and has a friendly atmosphere! Think dogs, dreadlocks and waitresses that’ll join you for a spliff outside. With an art gallery in the backyard, presenting new talents, Pavlac has quickly become a haunt for Prague’s scenesters and art hedonists.Víta Nejedlého 23, Prague 3420 222 721 731 www.cafepavlac.cz

Divinis

It’s swank yet cosy, Vogue Casa interior, and organic Tuscan menu has endeared it to celebrities shooting in Prague: Daniel Craig, Roman Polanski, Bijou Phillips, and others. A full-bodied yet subtle menu, 200-plus wine list, a charming Old Town location, and a gregarios, John Lurie-type owner, all add to its unique flavor, without a hint of bad service (Hi, Olga!) to ruin the bouquet.Týnská 19, Prague 1, 16:00-2:00, Tel: 420.224.808.318, www.divinis.cz

Dinitz Café

Housed in a gorgeous art-deco space, this upscale yet affordable venue opened by the Dinitz Group has Israeli chefs creating yummy dishes. With Wi-Fi access, a large open bar, and a more intimate space upstairs, the restaurant’s a great option both for business meetings and intimate dates. Formal during the day, it reserves its wild side for Cuban-themed parties on the weekends.Na Poříčí 12, Prague 1, 8:00-3:00, Tel: 420 (222314071)www.dinitz.cz

Radost

This long-standing, much-loved Vinorhady cafe is all about vegetarianism, without the bland preachiness that often goes along with a meatless menu. Rib-sticking comfort food is side-by-side with more exotic offerings, all served in a loungey Marakkesh-meets-Baghdad interior. The club downstairs has been picking up lately, with its monthly electro nights and hipster acts—think Dorfmeister, Swayzak, Terry Poison, to name a few.Belehradska 120, Prague 4, 11:00-5:00, Tel: 420 603181500 www.radostfx.cz

Chez Marcel Sur La Butte

Gourmet but affordable French cuisine served by casual friendly waiters in a cozy 1920’s Lost Generation clutter. All the pleasures of Paris without the drawback of the French.Americká 20, Prague 2, Tel: 420 222513340

SLEEP

Maximilian

Swank boutique hotel in downtown Prague that smartly combines contemporary 90s design with Czech Art Deco elements to create an airy atmosphere that’s a bright contrast to the rest of the city. The plush double beds in the rooms are the perfect antidote to a hard day’s night—and so is the Zen Spa downstairs. The late breakfasts of browned sausages and fresh fruit are perfect!Hastalska 14, Prague 1

www.maximilianhotel.com

Arcotel Teatrino

Spacious, friendly design hotel in Prague’s bohemian Zizkov neighborhood. Built in a revitalized Art Nouveau building—that was once a theater—the hotel has cosy rooms, a gorgeous fin-de-siecle style restaurant serving Czech delicacies and modern European cuisine and an intimate gym in the basement. Rooms are also equipped with Satellite TV, high-speed internet and other amenities. For B EAST fans, what also makes Arcotel special is that it’s located on Prague’s alternative bar street, with buzzing Bukowskis just down the street.

Borivojova 53 Prague 3

Tel. +420 221 422-111
www.arcotel.at

Private Apartments

Rent centrally-located apartments in Prague on a daily or weekly basis. The cool flats come with all the modern amenities and are located near the city’s hip bars and clubs.

Tel. +420 25151 2502.
www.apartments-in-prague.org

MORNING AFTER

Kubista

Located at the bottom floor of the Cubist Museum, this small boutique will turn you on to the hundred-year-old design trend and have you hating circles and spending money before you can say Picasso.House of the Black Madonna , Ovocný trh 19Open. 10:00-18:00,Tel: 420 224236378, www.kubista.cz

Museum of Communism

A sobering, fascinating, and often humorous tour through the ideologies and artifacts that created Soviet-era Czechoslovakia. Pieces of history are for sale in the museum’s lobby in the form of Soviet pins, posters, and propaganda.Na Přikopě 10, Prague 1, 8:00-21:00, Tel: 420 224212966 www.muzeumkomunismu.cz

Kebab Store

When the store opened last fall, there were more than a hundred design and fashion lovers at the door. On cruising through the funny and super-temporal interior, visitors could see feminine boudoir on one hand, and a butchers’ corner on the other side where the trousers hung from hooks… all surrounded by stuffed animal heads! This is not mentioning the ‘fresce collection’ section where Czech designers show their latest collections in a set up that reminds us of freshly-washed laundry.Kebab store is the first streetart /design shop of its kind in Prague. It has become so popular that owner Tomas is soon opening another shop elsewhere in the city.Dušní 13, Praha 1

MORE HOT PLACES TO BE…

BUCHAREST

KIEV

MOSCOW

RIGA

TALLINN

WARSAW

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