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Konvikt, Prague

Despite its name, and its location directly opposite the main police station in central Prague, Konvikt has nothing to do with prisoners. In fact, the name comes from convivere, Latin for ‘living together,’ a reference to its former life as a monastery.

Konvikt is a classic Czech pub. Dark, thick walls, solid timber furniture, decorated with a collection of curious memorabilia accumulated over decades. And, most importantly, it’s a pub that focuses on its beer and food.

The pub first opened in the 1950s but the building is much, much older and some of the cellars date from the 12th century when it used to be a Jesuit monastery. The cellar was also once used as a concert hall, and Ludwig van Beethoven conducted there in 1798.

“Many of Czech’s best Tapsters have worked here – which is good for them and good for us,” says Euźen Rouček, Konvikt’s manager. “Most of our ex-bartenders come back regularly, too. Some of those won and were finalists in the Pilsner Urquell Master Bartender competition, including Lukáš Svoboda, Veronika Mikésková and Jan Bejšovec, 2015’s Master Bartender. Lukáš, our owner, inspires and motivates everyone who is here, so now we are known for the quality of our beer.”

“We have lots of štamgasts. In this pub, we give every štamgast a number so we can keep track of everything they buy and know what they like most. As good Tapsters, we must remember their numbers. We’ve even got a blackboard with a list on, including Brewmaster Václav Berka who is a štamgast here. You’ve got to look after your štamgast. We even have a kind of competition – štamgast of the year, where they win a valuable tankard or something if they drink the most beer in a year. Štamgasts are the heart of every pub. They drink the beer of course, but they also create the atmosphere.”

“I can’t explain why one bar is famous for its beer while others aren’t. We all have the same beer and the same equipment yet some beers are just better. We look after all the little details, so our pub has a different feeling to others. And when you do that, people will find you.”