Uncover Serenity Amidst Artistic Splendor in Mokotów’s Hidden Oasis
Location, Location, Location
Set in deepest Mokotów, find Cafe Pląs in Królikarnia, a park and palace complex whose footprint includes beautiful gardens scattered with often surreal works by eminent sculptors such as Xawery Dunikowski, Maria Papa Rostkowska or Alina Ślesińska. Inside, the grand, sand-coloured palace is known for its cerebral temporary exhibitions.
Well I Never!
Królikarnia has always been good fun: built in the 18th century for Augustus II, its primary function was to serve as a hunting base, though according to some was actually little more than ‘a high class brothel’. Although heavily damaged in both 1939 and 1944, you would never guess this walking its serene park or echoing halls.
You might well have heard of the people behind it – in one corner you have Maciej Musiał, an actor with a reputation as one of the good guys of celebrity Poland. In the other, meet Katarzyna Błońska and Tomek Czudowski, a couple whose gastro projects include the award-winning Ale Wino and the design-minded Muzealna. This, though, is not the trio’s first joint venture. Opening Podrygi last year, a chilled-out cocktail bar in the gardens of the National Museum, the success of that has prompted this latest foray.
Set to the left of the palace’s main entrance, Pląs introduces itself in a burst of parquet flooring and muted beige shades. There’s two rooms to speak of, and both impress with their tall windows and high ceilings. Decorated with vintage drawers and retro chairs, these 60s treasures are offset against a statement chandelier and funky neon in the main chamber, and a striking contemporary canvas in the side room. An engaging mix of old and new, its easy on the eye and demands to be Instagrammed.
Located somewhere else and Pląs could have risked being too cool for school – you know, one of those places where anyone without 50,000 followers on social media would feel out of place. In actuality, however, one of its biggest successes relates to just how diverse it feels – chic but comfortable, everyone feels good here. Partly, that’s thanks to the almost disarming friendliness of the staff.
But the guests also play a prominent role – sure, you’ll find ‘influencer’ style people lurking around, but you’re just as likely to bump into digital nomads taking advantage of the area’s peace and quiet, yoga mums, stray tourists or just locals enjoying the vibe of the place. And what is the vibe? In a nutshell, it’s laidback and artsy-cool, something aided by the strategically placed plants, chillout beats and rare-find art books placed reverentially on the shelves.
Sips & Nibbles
Bites come in the form of a small selection of pastries such as the standout blueberry éclair. The coffee isn’t to be sniffed at, either. When temperatures peak, order the iced flat white. For alternatives, they also carry botanical-based soft drinks from Fentimans, some low-intervention wines and a smattering of craft beer from the Trzech Kumpli brewery.
Good To Know
With windows that yawn onto the lawn in front, Pląs works in perfect rhythm with its surrounding environment – with Królikarnia often organising outdoor summer concerts and dances, the presence of this café ties in neatly with the underpinning spirit of the palace.