SmetanaQ: Café in the Hub of Students and Designers
SmetanaQ is a design masterpiece that started to thrive after the extensive gas explosion. Since then, the building is getting renovated, and we can enjoy café by the riverside, new design store with Czech brands and pop up gallery on the upper floor.
The Story of SmetanaQ
As the students of the Faculty of Social Sciences (that is located just next door), we didn’t really have a place around to sit for affordable coffee. Riverbank is rather a lucrative area, especially with the National Theatre around the corner. The similar feeling had Petra, who is running this café today. She told me the story when she used to pass this area by tram in her childhood; she had a strong feeling that this area deserves more good vibes. The potential was huge, especially thanks to the stunning view over the river, Prague Castle and Petřín hill.
Everything changed after the gas explosion in 2013 when the building was significantly damaged. Until then, the building served as offices with a gallery on the ground floor. The tenants left the building after the explosion, and the new owner decided to open it for the public.
In the first phase, they opened the café on the ground floor. In the next phase, the design store Deelive together with the gallery on the first floor were open to the public. Until today, the backside of the building is under renovation. In meanwhile, it is covered by a huge poster with quotations of famous artists. I like the way of reconstruction when the original historical walls were uncovered and added elements of modern design, such as neon signs and interesting lightening.
Café and Bistro
The main advantage of SmetanaQ is the view and huge windows that allow the sun to kiss your face. The view is facing the Vltava river, Střelecký Island, and Petřin Hill. In a more distant view, you can admire the view of the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge that is especially charming by evening. Design is in line with the whole building so that you can enjoy the historical atmosphere with pieces of modern design. Especially the modern lights and classical Ton chairs provide an interesting contrast that perfectly fits together.
At the very back of the café, you can find a room with a library and outdoor terrace leading to the backyard. Here you can see the damaged side of the building, but it’s covered by a huge poster with quotations of famous artists.
The menu is designed to provide you good quality coffee and tea with fresh desserts, both sweet and salty. Coffee is provided by Czech roaster DoubleShot who transport coffee beans from local farmers of Africa and South America. The offer of the tea is also of the highest quality imported by Tea Mountain (I always like to visit in their tea room in Karlín). Some desserts are freshly made right in the café as well as a light menu.
Deelive Design Store
When you enter the building, the neon sights provide you direction to café on the right and design store on the left. You can find here very interesting pieces from young Czech designers of fashion, accessories, cosmetics, books and interior design. It’s a great place to buy original pieces that you would hardly find anywhere else. So, try and see.
Pop Up Gallery
In the second floor, you can find a gallery that is open to the public without any fees. You can enjoy temporary exhibitions of various artists in three spacious halls with a great view of Prague Castle. Besides the artists themselves, I admired the stairs leading to the gallery; it’s just like from the fairy tales or old movies. So the visit to the gallery gives you three distinct experiences – beautiful stairs, exhibition, and stunning view. Just try it.
How to get to SmetanaQ
You can find SmetanaQ close by the National Theatre on the riverside. The tram stop Národní Divadlo is the closest one. Over the river is Střelecký Island that is especially charming during the summer. When you cross the bridge on the other side, you might have a walk on the Kampa Island that is captivating all over the year.
Address: Smetanovo nábřeží 334/4, Prague 1
Map: click here