Inspired by my musings about whether cafes can provide inspiration, I decided to list some of the most arty farty cafes around the world, some of which have been nominated for by friends, others being just famous for being arty farty.
The Jericho Cafe – this is my personal favourite arty-farty cafe in the UK. The food is great, the atmosphere is arty, and you will find all sorts dining in here. I was there on Monday this week enjoying a mint tea and eavesdropping on a conversation between an editor and author about the funny ways of the world of book publishing.
George and Davis – a well-known ice-cream parlor situated on Great Clarendon Street, Oxford.
Korova Arts Cafe bar – in the words of a friend ‘Korova is open 8am until midnight Tuesday to Saturday (with a booze licence) and the cafe supports the costs of the not-for-profit arts side. They have a studio theatre and a smaller workshop room, as well as the cafe, and they have exhibitions, gigs, plays, performance art, comedy, music and basically anything else that is creative. They take their coffee really seriously too, which is good, and have food. They even have crayons etc so kids can make their own artwork, and a space on the wall to display it. Tis very cool.’
Beautiful Planet – as my friend says ‘It’s much more hippy [than Korova], with walls covered in protest posters, no meat in the building (and very few animal products – just milk for people who don’t like soya) they have gigs etc though.’
The Settle Down Cafe – The Settle Down Cafe is a small independent cafe on Thornton St, Newcastle. They describe themselves as ‘a very nice cafe’, and they hold exhibitions, workshops, great coffee and great food.
The Elephant House – the most arty farty cafe in Edinburgh where J. K. Rowling it is believed was inspired to write a story about a boy wizard. Other writers are known to have sipped their coffee there too, including Alexander McCall-Smith and Ian Rankin. Perhaps due to its fame it is now a bit of a tourist trap and less of a haven for creativity inspiration.
St Mawgan Village Stores / Tea Rooms – in the words of a friend ‘Has to be my favourite tea room not just for the quaint surroundings but also to the fantastic range of gluten free breads, cakes and the best Gluten Free Cream Tea around!’
Merlijn, The Netherlands / Germany
Boscafe Merlijn – in the words of a friend ‘We stumbled upon this during a long walk as students when still living in Nijmegen, Holland. merlijn is technically in Germany, just past the disused barrier. It’s in the woods, there are lots of chickens and their Appeltaart (apple cake) is legend.’
Café de la Rotonde – apparently early in the 20th century, in the midst of the era of avant garde art and the birth of the ‘isms’, the proprietor Libion allowed starving artists to sit in his café for hours, drinking only the cheapest cups of coffee. He would turn a blind eye to thhem breaking off some baguette from the bread basket. For payment, he would often accept a drawing, offering to hold it until the artist could pay. During those times the café’s walls were littered with a collection of sketches. It’s a shame this wasn’t preserved.
La Closerie des Lilas – another famous Parisian cafe for its famous creative patrons: Picasso, Hemmingway, Man Ray, Beckett, David Hockney, Mick Jagger.
Oriel Tir A Môr Gallery – also known in my family as ‘mummy’s favourite cafe’. This cafe combines art gallery, framing services, seaside nick-nacks with coffee and paninis. Every time we go to Borth we come here and play a game called ‘MFP’ which stands for My Favourite Painting. Everyone has to select one painting from the walls of the coffee shops as their favourite. The rules are that simple.
Boulders Cafe – this cafe, also in Borth, appears to be less ‘arty farty’ and the coffee isn’t that great (it also once famously tried to lure people in by resembling Starbucks), but we were once in here having a morning coffee and came across a group of people busily making felt, so for that reason it classes as arty.
Art Tea Zen – I didn’t get the chance to go to this cafe but it fits all the criteria: oddly matched chairs, the over use of the word ‘quirky’ in its reviews and very good coffee (if the reviews are anything to go by).
The Jazz Cafe – this week we are on holiday in Somerset and we found this lovely arty cafe in the middle of Bath, voted the sixth best local business in the area 2013. This cafe had buckets of arty farty charm and I spent a happy hour here sketching the people of bath. The coffee machine used here was good enough to be mentioned by the Coffee Dorks espresso machine reviews, and yeah the coffee was good. The food looked fantastic but we only had coffee.
The Vintage Tearoom – today we found ourselves sipping coffee and milkshakes in this charming little tearoom cum shop in Street (still on our Somerset holiday). It is well worth a visit. It is Cath Kidston heaven, if you like that sort of thing. My particular favourite part of the cafe was a chair covered in old Beano comics. We had a lovely time eating some delightful cup cakes. This cafe is extremely girly and pink, but it did inspire me to do some sketches of the other coffee drinkers.
Now, where should I go first?
You forget Boulders in Borth (http://www.facebook.com/BouldersCafe), which has an interesting craft section and holds craft events and who got into trouble with Starbucks for some fairly blatant passing off (http://www.artswebwales.com/oriel/bigpic.asp?picID=881&catID=6).
And staying in Borth, Oriel Tir a Mor (http://sites.google.com/site/orieltiramor/home), which combines picture gallery, cafe, and picture framing service all in one building.
How could I forget Borth’s arty cafes? I’ll revise my list now.
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