News / City Life

Pilsner, cocktails and architecture: it’s the best of Czech London

Tereza Porybná at the Czech Embassy, London
Photograph: Scott Chasserot

With an estimated 50,000 of us living and working in Britain, it’s no surprise that you can find Czech destinations all over the capital. But this autumn, as the Czech Republic marks 100 years of independence, there’s even more Czech culture taking place across the city. The Czech100 festival organised by the Czech Centre, runs until December 9, showcasing the country’s art, design, fashion, theatre and film.

There are many historical links with London: before officially founding Czechoslovakia in 1918, our first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk lectured at King’s College, and a stone plaque on Platts Lane stands as a reminder of the politics that unfolded inside his Hampstead home. A more sombre memorial is at Liverpool Street station, where a bronze statue of two children with a suitcase pays tribute to the Londoner Sir Nicholas Winton, who evacuated hundreds of Czech Jewish children by train in 1939. Tereza Porybná

Did you know? The London Eye may be an iconic part of London but its parts come from all over Europe, including the Czech Republic, where the iron spindle and hub were cast in the Skoda factory.

Tereza’s favourite Czech spots in London

Located in a West Hampstead villa, acquired after WWII as a meeting place for Czech and Slovak expats – many of whom fought alongside the Allies – the Czechoslovak Restaurant provides slap-up Central European food and excellent Czech beers.

Pavel Tvaroh’s Shoreditch speakeasy Lounge Bohemia is plastered in prints of Rudé Právo, the old Czech communist paper. The cocktail menu is pure magic.

Set up by Lukáš Tvardů, Subtitles Café in Dalston serves excellent coffee and sandwiches as well as screening cult Czech films, booking gigs and selling film posters.

Visionary architect Jan Kaplický designed several award-winning buildings in the UK. See his ‘floating’ bridge in Canary Wharf.

Two Czech expats founded Bohem Brewery in Tottenham as the UK’s only brewery devoted to traditional Bohemian lagers. Visit to watch the process up close and sample a pilsner.

Built in 1970 and renovated last year, the brutalist Czech Embassy in Notting Hill now also hosts an underground cinema and the Czech Centre, with its Vitrínka Gallery.

The best of Czech London – your recommendations

‘I always feel like I’m transported home at the Czechoslovak Restaurant. Cheap beer and huge portions of delicious food for Czech prices. It has an incredible history too.’ Jana F via www.timeout.com

‘I always like Bar Prague on Kingsland Road – only place I know of in London that does slivovice and the other various fruit brandies, as well as a wide selection of Czech beers.’ Zeibura K via www.timeout.com

Czeched it all out? Hop to our guide to the best of Polish London.

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