Literary haunts and hangouts
Heading to Stockholm, London, Brussels, Paris or Prague? Inject some culture into your city break with some of our #innsider recommendations of bars and cafés with a literary past
1. Stockholm blockbusters
The Millenium series has taken the world by storm and Steig Larsson’s trilogy has sold millions worldwide (and has also inspired various movies in Swedish and English). Any fan visiting Stockholm should visit Mellqvists Kaffebar, Hornsgatan 78, it features in the books as one of hero Mikael Blomkvist’s regular cafés, and was a favourite of Stieg Larsson’s in real life too. Larsson’s magazine Expo was situated in the office right above, so it is likely he got his morning coffee here, and maybe dreamt up some of the storylines for the gritty series too.
London is full of literary hangouts, old and new. For those looking for a mix of classic and contemporary, head to The Dog and Duck on Bateman Street, Soho. In times gone by George Orwell was a regular, and its interior has been preserved, it still boasts large mirrors and ornate tiling. Its famous visitors aren’t just from years gone by though, its owners say that Madonna has been a visitor in more recent years. For more information see www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thedogandducksoholondon
If that’s not enough, head to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street, London. This pub has been standing since 1667 and claims to have played host to a long list of British writers including Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. It has an old-world feel and an open fire in winter, so a great place to curl up with a classic and a pint.
3. Creative Brussels
Visitors to Belgium’s first city should check out Fleur en Papier Dore, Rue des Alexiens 53, Brussels. This small café was once the stomping ground of a host of artists, writers and painters from the Surrealist movement. Its interior has been preserved and boasts pictures and writings which, as legend has it, were traded for free drinks by its famous patrons. Previous regulars are said to include Paul Rouge, René Magritte, Louis Scutenaire, Marcel Lecomte, Charles Plisnier, Paul Mariën, ELT Mesens and Georges Remi (Hergé). For more information, see http://www.goudblommekeinpapier.be/
4. Artistic Paris
In its heyday, Picasso, Chagall, Sartre, and de Beauvoir were all said to frequent Café de Flore, St-Germain – although it is said that they were more interested in the café’s free heating as much as the wares on offer. Holding its own in a city full of history, the Flore awards an annual writing prize to keep its relationship with the literary world alive and kicking. You can see the previous winners on its website. Now the café has a terrace, which is perfect for people-watching – you never know, you might be inspired to create a masterpiece of your own! For more info see http://www.cafedeflore.fr/
For a touch of old-Prague glamour with a dash of culture, head to Café Louvre – This café opened in 1902 and for many years welcomed members of Prague’s intellectual set including Karel Capek and Franz Kafka, as well as Albert Einstein during his stint living in the Czech capital. The café’s interior was destroyed in 1948 but was revived to its former glory in 1992 when it underwent a complete renovation. Browse its gallery, have a game of billiards or try some of the fabulous cakes and pastries on offer, all steeped in history. For more information, see www.cafelouvre.cz/en/
Where to stay
City breaks don’t have to break the bank! We have Park Inn by Radisson hotels in many major cities, search here and book your next big adventure now! http://www.parkinn.co.uk/offers/hotel/city-breaks
Do you have any recommendations for cafés or bars with a famous past? Let us know in the comment box below and we’ll share on our social media pages.