Spring temperatures and the cancellation of anti-pandemic measures are a direct incentive to go somewhere to the spa on the weekends. And where else should it be than in Karlovy Vary.
The most famous Czech spa town may have had a tag in the past where the Czechs aren’t that big or there isn’t much going on except for the film festival. In reality, however, many businesses have shifted to a modern approach to food and local customers, and you’ll find plenty of great places to enjoy the weekend. Where to go for lunch, have a coffee, have a drink or relax in Vary?
Instead, you should book your reservation in advance at the Market. Weekends here have been booked for a long time and, according to chef Jan Krajč, another release triggered bookings during the week.
Don’t look for a multi-page menu here: the menu here changes daily depending on the ingredients the chef orders in France. And for soup and dessert, you can choose one of two main course options. “In the beginning, people didn’t understand the concept very well, but today they know very well where they are going. And I always cook them as best I can,” says Krajč.
The group also includes La Hospoda in the center of Vary, which focuses on Czech cuisine and also serves as a learning center, where it tries to train competent young chefs, or the Villa Basileia hotel, which opened the last year.
After a 2016 rebuild, the original lower-grade pub in a historic building on the hill above Vary has become a fine-dining restaurant that cooks mostly from local ingredients. The local duck is famous.
Operating restaurant Patrik Pudil admits that he missed foreign customers very much. They had to make the menu cheaper and adapt to attract more Czech tourists who come to Vary mainly on weekends.
At the beginning of the year, they were only open from Wednesday. However, the owner plans to open another cellar on the colonnade in the summer. “We are optimistic,” said Pudil. “When the situation returns to normal, Vary will have great potential.”
For those who fancy something lighter, bagel bags will be ideal. Bagel Lounge was one of the first companies to bring a modern dining concept to Vary. And it was a successful step into the unknown. The restaurant is full every day and the brand owners have expanded to Prague or Cheb. They plan to open their sixth and seventh branches in the capital this year.
They have managed to resist the pandemic mainly thanks to an above-standard relationship with customers.
“From day one, we wrote to every subscriber that we had an open window,” says Kristýna Gabalcová, Marketing Manager at Bagel Lounge. “We have held various competitions and we also have a database of thousands of VIP guests, to whom we have always delivered a cake or balloons for their birthdays, we gave them a discount. Just something that will improve their mood We managed to keep a relationship with them and manage the pandemic,” he recalls.
Pharmacy by City Roasters
When you go to a café in Karlovy Vary, chances are the grinder contains beans from local roaster City Roasters. Its operators were the first to bring selected coffee from the Netherlands to Vary, six years ago they started roasting their own and three years later opened a pharmacy in Prague Passage.
The stylish cafe, which would fit in even the trendiest parts of Prague, is regularly included in the prestigious European Coffee Guide. However, 80% of the clientele is local, who quickly learned to come back for a good coffee. In addition, you will also find poke bowls or superb cakes, which are baked directly by the mother of the co-founder Filip Hamr.
Good morning coffee
A few steps from the center, near the winter stadium, you will find Café Bonjour. The café à la française moved from the center six years ago. At first glance, the discreet unimo cell has become a cozy space with a quiet garden on the edge of nature, where foreign customers concentrated in the colonnade rub shoulders with local regulars.
In addition to the classic coffee assortment and French desserts, you will also find a wide selection of prosecco. Owner Marina Holoubková accepted Proseccárna from Prague two years ago and included less than thirty types of organic prosecc in the offer. And during the film festival, they opened a booth together. “But the original Café Bonjour is still the same place where people feel good,” he smiles.
If you ask almost anyone in Vary, they’ll tell you that the best drinks are mixed in Becher’s Bar at the Pupp Hotel. The main bartender here is the co-founder of the famous Prague bar L’Fleur Vítězslav Cirok. This was called by Pupp as part of the hotel’s overall modernization efforts.
The alpha and omega of the bar are champagne and their signature drinks. “We focused on psychology, every drink has a color and there are always emotions it expresses. We try to evoke those emotions in people by presenting the drink so that they understand what it’s about. acts. They like it,” says Cirok.
In total, they’ll whip up around 20 drinks for you at the bar, which is open Thursday through Sunday (when it’s also full every night), then whip you up another eight Pupp Classics for the entire hotel. In addition to drinks, the bar places the same emphasis on a pleasant atmosphere. “People go to Grandhotel Pupp to experience and relax, not to get drunk,” says Cirok.
Unsurprisingly, the aforementioned Pupp is one of Karlovy Vary’s “must see” stops. During the pandemic, the hotel underwent extensive renovations under the supervision of new manager Jindřich Krausz, who set out to modernize the legendary home of world movie stars during the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
They changed the interior design, entered the hotel, unified the visual identity of the brand, hired a new chef Ondřej Koráb or started to cooperate with Czech brands.
Guests will find Czech cosmetics in the rooms, in the restaurant Mattonk, at the reception of the hashler or flowers in vases by Mosser. And it paid off, as the average occupancy rate has doubled since before the pandemic.
When he took office four years ago, Krausz set himself one of the goals of attracting Czech customers and showing that Pupp’s luxury and quality aren’t just for movie stars. And he succeeded, because today Czechs make up more than half of the hotel’s guests with a history of more than 300 years. “We’re also starting to see customers who come back here four times a year, which wasn’t the case before,” says Krausz.
About seventy percent of the under four hundred beds are now occupied at the Imperial Hotel above Vary. According to hotel manager Robert Jahn, that’s likely the same number as before the pandemic. “For a five-star hotel, it’s not even practical that the capacity is completely exhausted, you have to maintain a certain level of comfort,” he explains.
The main role here is played by Czech and German-speaking guests, with whom the hotel cooperates more intensively due to its proximity. Before the pandemic, the Czechs made up about a third, but their share began to increase about three years ago, today it is just over half.
“I’m an optimist myself,” Jahn points out. “People are still used to traveling and enjoying their free time. The loss of foreign guests is not unmanageable. If a segment breaks down, we know we have to restore or replace it. Hotels have to think about the future. And we have no skepticism.”