The Old Town Square is one of the most touristic places in Prague and locals rather avoid its tourist traps and high prices. However, there is one hidden gem that is pretty well hidden, without any sights and direction. It’s Skautský Institut, fabulous place with courtyard, reasonable prices and friendly atmosphere created by local scouts.
Meeting place not only for Scouts
Once you find the entrance, pass the reception, and see the impressive courtyard, that looks like from the old Czech movies. Climb the stairs up to the first floor, and you will find a maze with corridors and numerous doors. Just follow the sign to the café and/or admire the view to the courtyard where you can take your drink and grab a book from bookshelves.
Café itself is in a minimalistic style, with wooden decor, branches over the ceilings and furniture crafted by scouts and volunteers. You can find three rooms full of chairs, tables, bookshelves, and even with a piano. My favorite spot is definitely in a small spire with a tiny table where you can observe people at the Oldtown square watching the Astronomical clock because you are almost next to it! Another great place to sit down is courtyard balconies with tables alongside the wall on several floors.
The menu is simple and affordable, just in the spirit of scout philosophy, such as coffee, wine, Czech beer (for 35 CZK is the cheapest one at the Old Town Square), homemade lemonades, cakes, and cold snacks. People behind the bar are scouts, of course. They are chilled out and friendly, like the atmosphere in the café.
Skautský institute is very active in organizing various events for the public. They organize lectures, workshops, summer cinema and lectures of swing. Unfortunately, the site is available only in Czech, but have a look at their program at Facebook at least.
Scouting in the Czech history
With the establishment of scouting in 1907, Czechoslovakia followed the idea in 1911. Since then, the organization has been forced to disband three times – by the Nazi regime in 1940, by Communists in 1948 and again in 1970 after the Prague Spring. Despite all these experiences, the Scout movement always re-emerged. Today, after more than 100-year existence, the membership is growing and reached over 60 000 members in 2018.