Once an industrial district, the neighbourhood has become a popular local spot, not least because it is an excellent base for exploring the historic centre’s sights. Karlín now also offers plenty of entertainment and dining options, as one of the city’s up-and-coming places. Here are 10 of them.
Hotel Jurys Inn Prague
Increasingly, the inner suburbs, easily accessible thanks to Prague’s excellent public transport, make good accommodation options. Part of an international chain, the four-star Hotel Jurys Inn Prague is one such example, offering the usual facilities typical of such establishments, with a restaurant and bistro. Rooms range from twins to the luxurious Premium King Room. The hotel is conveniently located on the western edge of Karlín, directly opposite the Florenc metro and tram stops, and many new eateries have opened nearby.
Sokolovská 11, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 226 222600
The Czech artist Alfons Mucha, famous for his Art Nouveau posters and his long artistic association with famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, provides the inspiration for the decor at this locally-owned four-star hotel. The singles, doubles and triples are correspondingly kitted out in an Art Nouveau style. Mamacita Catalina, the hotel restaurant, offers Spanish and Mexican cuisine and is open to non-residents. Like Hotel Jurys Inn, Hotel Mucha is located by the Florenc metro and tram stops.
Sokolovská 26, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 222 318849
Part of a German-owned chain of “lifestyle” hotels, the four-star pentahotel Prague offers 183 double rooms and 44 “penta higher standard plus” rooms. Other facilities include the pentalounge, serving food and equipped with a billiard table, and a fitness centre. At the eastern end of Karlín, pentahotel is slightly further away than the above two hotels but still within easy reach of the centre. On the other hand, when it comes to eating options, the hotel lies close to Eska and Garage restaurants, see below.
Sokolovská 112, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 222 332800
In the last few years, a new breed of stylish and affordable restaurants with an emphasis on quality has emerged in Prague, particularly in Karlín. Eska, housed in the Forum Karlín building, once a boiler-making plant, is one of them, rapidly becoming a local hit. The spacious minimalist interior symbolises the transformation of the neighbourhood and combines a restaurant and bakery. The menu has an international emphasis, with an inventive approach to flavours. Local foodies recommend the breakfasts.
Pernerova 49, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 731 140884
And now for something a little different – French fries and curd cheese. Not particularly Czech, it must be admitted, but as Karlín has become an increasingly cosmopolitan quarter, not least for food and drink choices, it would be a shame to leave it out. Canadian fare is usually omitted from lists of world cuisines in menus, but friendly Garage does its bit to redress this unfairness. Poutine, as the above comfort food combo is known, thus adds a touch of Toronto to the Czech capital.
Křižíkova 58, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 608 892476
If you avoid meat-free meals, you no longer need to worry about surviving on a diet of omelette and salads while you’re in Prague. Vegetarianism has become increasingly popular in the city, and restaurants like Mlsná Kavka (The Picky Jackdaw) have helped meat-free become mainstream in the Czech capital. Around midday, Mlsná Kavka attracts a large office worker contingent, which stops by for the lunchtime menu. The restaurant also has a strong social commitment: the wait staff are part of the Green Doors initiative, helping people with mental illness to join the workforce.
Sokolovská 29, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 777 913054
Podolka – Karlín
In the same mould as Eska, this relatively new restaurant offers honest, reliable cooking at decent prices, in an amiable environment. The menu has an international twist, and vegetarians have a very decent selection to choose from – new ingredients such as quinoa featuring widely. Podolka also does a special lunch menu on working days. There is also a branch in Podolí, close to Vyšehrad, and if you’re visiting a farmer’s market in Prague, look out for the Podolka stall, which serves takeaway food.
Šaldova 34, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 222 325307
If you like trying new soup varieties, Polévkárna is just for you. The original cooks were Georgian, and their influence continues in the wide selection of healthy, filling homemade choices. Don’t leave without trying the famous khachapuri, a delicious cheese-filled flatbread. You can also sample other snacks, like samosa-type pastries, and cakes. The Polévkárna opening times coincide with office hours and the restaurant is highly popular, so it’s best to pay a visit before or during lunchtime, while stocks last.
Sokolovská 97, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 608 074414
Amidst the many new, internationally-oriented eateries in the neighbourhood, traditional Czech haunts live on. And for a typical Czech pub experience head to Lokál Hamburk. Once a grubby drinking hole with dubious food, the pub/restaurant is now owned by the popular Ambiente group, which has recreated the typical pub atmosphere with long tables and simple decor. But thanks to the recently introduced smoking ban, visitors no longer need to put up with the notorious nicotine haze associated with a Czech hostelry experience.
Sokolovská 55, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 222 310361
Můj šálek kávy
Like the Viennese, Praguers take their coffee ritual seriously, and enjoy lingering over a cuppa. The Czech capital has become a big-name coffee destination recently thanks to a new wave of coffee shops offering a modern take on a long-standing tradition. This cosy and friendly café, whose name is a pun on the English phrase “My cup of tea” is a good venue for experiencing the ritual. It also serves snacks and filling homemade soups. In summer, you can sit outside and people watch.
Křižíkova 105, Prague, Czech Republic, +420 725 556944