One of the first pieces of advice that I would give to anyone who is visiting Prague for the first time, is never ever visit a pub or a restaurant that is on Old Town Square. Views of the spectacular Tynska Church, the Astronomical Clock, the Statue of Jan Hus and the simply charming buildings are certainly beautiful, there’s no denying it. However, the sad truth is that most of the pubs and restaurants here, which have outdoor terraces spilling out onto the square itself are massively over-priced (beers will be up to around 3 or 4 times as much as they ordinarily would be in other, less-touristy parts of town). You certainly won’t see many locals in amongst the heaving crowds of tourists here.
With this in mind, I was understandably surprised and certainly curious when I heard about the Skautsky Institut from my Czech teacher. A bar/cafe, located right on Old Town Square, which has a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, is generally unknown by tourists and which offers drinks and snacks at exceptionally reasonable prices. It seemed too good to be true, so I just had to go and check it out. Needless to say, the Skautsky Institut surpassed all of my expectations. I use the phrase “Hidden Gem” a lot, but this place is the absolute definitive hidden gem. Firstly because it’s not easy to find. There’s not a sign outside, so you would never stumble across it if you didn’t know where you were going. For me, this just added to its charm and allure.
To qualify as a hidden gem, a place needs not only to be well-hidden but also to offer something quite special and unique. The Skautsky Institut certainly does this. I entered to find a warren of small rooms, all of which opened off this central balcony overlooking a courtyard.
As I approached the bar, I was delighted to see that they had Uneticke (my favourite Czech beer) on tap and for only 35 CZK for a large glass. They also had 2dcl of wine for just 40 CZK, and a good range of homemade lemonades and soft drinks alongside cakes and cold snacks. The lady behind the bar was really friendly and the atmosphere was totally chilled out. The decor was minimalist, but well thought out and there was no shortage of chairs, tables and bookcases full of books. After I had had to fight my way through massive crowds of people to get here, it was really refreshing to find the place relatively empty (there were only 2 other tables occupied).
I grabbed this table, in my very own private turret and spent a very happy hour with a delicious Czech beer and my book, looking out over the crowds below.
How to get there
The address for the Skautsky Institut is Staromestske Namesti 4. As I mentioned previously, there is no sign. Just go under the archways, open the door with number 4 above it and enter. Walk up the staircase to your right and you will see this sign. You will find the place on the first floor.
For more information about the Skautsky Institut and upcoming events which will take place here, have a look at their website (unfortunately it is only available in Czech).
- The Skautsky Institut is open 12pm – 10pm Mon-Thurs, 12pm – 8pm Fri, 10am – 6pm Sat-Sun