At the corner of Celetny Street and Ovocny in Prague Old Town is this rather splendid building.
Other wise known as the Cubist House it is one of the few Cubist pieces of architecture still standing anywhere. Completed in 1912, it was designed by Josef Gocar as a department store for the wholesaler Frantisek Josef Herbst. Gocor’s original designs were a bit more daring but he was made to tone it down to fit in with the city’s predominantly Baroque architecture.
The department store occupied the ground and second floors while a rather swish cafe took up the first. After World War One the cafe and second floor became boring bank offices and they continued as the offices of the State Exhibition Services during the Communist times. However one of the results of the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution was the restoration of the Grand Cafe Orient to its former glory. Exact copies of the fixtures and fittings were made from photographs and the waiters look as if they have come from a silent movie set.
While the surroundings are rather chic the only drag is that it’s not very well air conditioned and there is a terrible fug of cigarette smoke, which even as an ex smoker I found hard to bear, so we only stayed for one, but the magnificent interior had to be seen.
What’s the damage? Four pints of Staropramen and a hot chocolate 222 Czech Crowns about £8 UK