Doughnut Battles in a Spa: Café Imperial

Thanks to its luxurious interior, its sharp boss Zdeněk Pohlreich and food which is not completely disgusting, Prague’s Café Imperial belongs among restaurants many people find highly alluring. However, what interests me equally, or perhaps even more intensively than its offer and looks is the legend of Saturnin-inspired doughnut battles that supposedly used to take place here back in the day.

For those who (to their own detriment!) don’t know what Saturnin is: It is a novel by Czech author Zdeněk Jirotka first published in 1943. One of the book’s main characters divided people into several categories…

“…according to the wayjirotka-saturnin they behaved in a half-empty cafe when confronted by a plate of doughnuts. (…) If you are allegedly a person without imagination, any dynamic passions or a sense of humour, you will subject the doughnuts to a dull and thoughtless gaze until perhaps midday. Then you will rise to your feet and take yourself off to lunch.  (…)

[How about the second group?] At the sight of the doughnuts a member of the second category enjoys reflecting on what it would be like if someone, quite out of the blue and without warning, employed these pastries as missiles and began bombarding the other customers in the cafe. (…)

[For the third category of people] the idea of a doughnut whistling through the air is such an enticement that they get up and actually make it happen.”

And it seems that Café Imperial undertook a highly commendable deed and really made it possible for their visitors from the “third kind of people” to realize these doughnut battles without getting punished in the process. What does this golden age look like in the memories of those who were there to live it? I am quoting from here.

The menu says roughly this: „A plate of Saturnin’s doughnuts 1.943,- CZK. A plate of yesterday’s doughnuts intended for throwing at other visitors is visibly placed at the bar. In case you cannot see the plate, staying in the cafe any longer is only at your own risk.“ And because it was Dana’s birthday and experiencing a proper fight in a fancy place was a great wish of hers, nothing was standing in the way of putting this plan into action.”

I love absolutely everything about this text. The phrase “experiencing a proper fight in a fancy place” and the fact that all of this content exists on a domain that translates as “” are probably among the main highlights. Fantastical. But the best thing is that Dana & co. even made an over 6-minute long video montage capturing their unique experience. Have a look:


sisky3And now, the awful truth: doughnut battles in Cafe Imperial are a thing of the past. This is because the cafe underwent an expensive renovation and throwing yesterday’s doughnuts against its expensively renovated walls probably did not seem like a good idea to the cafe’s owners. Which, let’s be honest, is a shame. Even more so if we consider the fact that thanks to its tile decorations, the cafe looks like a giant spa and thus it seems that an occasional flow of water cleaning a doughnut battle aftermath would do its walls no harm.

It is then safe to say that visiting Imperial these days is just not worth it. One can not even freely throw pastries around themselves − and what is the point in such a life?

Still, if, by some nasty accident, you found yourself in this cafe and started feeling the need to visit local bathrooms, stay calm: Toilet Observer has already been there before you and thoroughly analyzed the situation.

So let’s see: instead of Moorish mosaics that delight your soul in the cafe itself, the toilettes welcome you by a glamorous brown-white-gold interior adorned in the style of art deco.


The bathrooms themselves are clean, comfortable, well equipped and give you enough privacy – just as expected.


IMG_20160221_123619In the sinks in the bathroom lobby, water is poured on your hands by gold (probably) swans. They can be seen either as a touch of luxury, or as a dangerous inclination toward kitsch – the choice is yours.

labute cropped

Next to the sinks, there is also a small screen showing a presentation of Hotel Imperial along with a description of its services.


This screen depresses me quite. I am not exactly sure why… maybe because it gives off some sort of a stale 90ies odour, and aside from that, I find the emptiness and unconcealed depersonalisation of the entire idea of placing an uninteresting self-promo material in the bathrooms very dispiriting. But that’s just me. Maybe other people would appreciate it and truly get the urge to make use the advertised “unique conference rooms”, in which case I say: amazeballs, I am happy for both parties, and may Hotel and Cafe Imperial together with its conference rooms live long and prosper!

Score chart

Cleanliness 10/10
Aroma 10/10
Equipment 8/10
Privacy 10/10
Could you comfortably vomit there? Yes.
Atmosphere Generic
Cultural / entartainment opportunities You can let yourself get depressed by the presentation screen next to the sinks.
Overall impression 8/10

Café Imperial
Na Poříčí 15
110 00 Praha 1

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