Inspiring places: Warsaw Praga

Dear Readers, time for a new column on this blog. From now on, every Tuesday, you can expect a new post about areas, shops, hotels, pubs, websites etc. that, in my opinion, are likely to inspire you and help you create your ideal home. I’m hoping to provide you with lots of new design ideas and inspirations.

The very first one is going to be about Warsaw Praga, Poland. My grandma used to live there, on the 11 Listopada street. Ever since I remember, it was a rough part of town. The forgotten place, inconvenient for some and full of people society didn’t want to remember or was scared of. Numerous drinking dens, ‘meliny’, stinking of homemade vodka and kids with dirty faces swearing their hearts out put visitors off for years. Walking along the streets of Zabkowska or Brzeska one was sure to hold their belongings tightly in case a cheeky young lad jumped out of a doorway to claim one’s purse.

On the other hand, Praga was always full of charm with its pre-war architecture (it was not demolished during the Second World War), beautiful buildings and flats with high ceilings and far more living space than the communist blocks. Owing to its bad reputation, the cost of living was much cheaper than on the other side of the Vistula River. Cheaper rent attracted creative types i.e. designers, artists, musicians, and as they flooded the area, the night entertainment industry boomed. Step by step, cool, shabby chic and artistic premises became a real alternative to central Warsaw’s commercial night scene.

Warsaw Praga can be compared to London’s Shoreditch and Bethnal Green or to Berlin’s East End. It’s for people who are into art, simple pleasures and unrestricted fun. You don’t need to dress up to go out there; it’s not pretentious. A real mix of subcultures, the place to chill out as well as dance till the morning light. It’s up to you what you fancy doing. The local community tolerates the foreign, to them, artistic crowd.

The first time I went out there it must have been back in 2007, and since then I discovered several places worth visiting based not only on a price of alcohol (cheap), but also on an eclectic décor, packed with old furniture and nostalgic items most of us can relate to. If you visit Warsaw, make sure you explore W Oparach Absurdu (In the Mists of Absurdity) and Sklad Butelek (Bottles Warehouse). Both places are decorated with mish-mash of old furniture, pictures and mirrors probably found at relatives’ houses or a flea market. I love it. You instantly feel like at home. The staff are friendly, and you are welcome to sip your drink admiring the surroundings for as long as you like .

In the mists of absurdity, Warsaw Praga

The pictures were taken in December 2009. You can see my beautiful Polish friends.

In the mists of absurdity, Warsaw Praga

Wondering where to stay in the area, I would highly recommend Hostel Fabryka situated in the hub of Warsaw Praga nightlife, 11 Listopada 22 (a minute away from Sklad Butelek, Hydrozagadka and Saturator ). The main bit of the hotel is kept in simple Scandinavian style. However, you can also rent the whole apartment. High ceilings, beautiful wooden parquet floor in the main living area, and a glamorous bathroom with its black and white floor, and an old armchair in the corner. Don’t be put off by the entrance.

With my friend Tomek, we organised there a fantastic Halloween party this year, as well as showed a few pieces from the collection of photographs, mainly street art, taken by S or Stephenpickart.

Stephen Pick art

Let me know what you think of Warsaw Praga.  Have you ever been there? What were your impressions? Do you think you might go there in the nearest future?




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