3 of my favourite Cluj cafes with a handmade feel

Living slap bang in the center of Cluj + having an apartment the size of a large broom cupboard = spending a LOT of time in cafes.

This pretty much sums up (excuse the pun) my life at the moment. However, it is not necessarily a bad thing as Cluj has a wonderful selection of cafes I can use as an office cum sitting room outside of sleeping hours. What I really look for is a home away from home, and I want to post a homage to three of my favourite cafes that really give me that homely, handmade vibe.

My list is by no means exhaustive, but I have focused on places that really have that attention to detail, utilising that unique, crafty feel that made.in.transylvania is all about. So three cafes, all with a different style, but all with a great look, great staff and great coffee.

#1: Camino

What is better than sitting in Piata Muzeului on a late Summer evening. Well, you better get there early because the seats at the ever popular Camino fill up quick. Is is because the lovely staff are the quickest in the square? Is it because of their wonderful iced drinks and good-value pasta? Or is it just because it looks great? Who knows?

Situated in an old building with rustic vaulted ceilings, stone floors and arched courtyard, Camino is a cool sanctuary from the summer sun. The decor could perhaps be described as ‘shabby chic’, and there is so much attention to detail tucked away in every corner. It always get me feeling rather romantic.

Not to mention the food which looks absolutely divine. (I saw ‘looks’ as my budget usually only stretches to one coffee per 2 hours.)

#3: L’Atelier Cafe

But when all that romanticism gets you down, its best to head to the smoky drinking den that is L’Atelier. The cool thing about this place is that everything, I mean EVERYTHING is made of cardboard. Except for the staff, who are very much alive and play far from cardboard music.

Getting across the rooms can be a bit of a hurdle race what with all the cardboard chairs, but once you’ve got tucked up into a corner you feel like you are in some wonderful fort. From the design of the place, I suspected some serious attention had gone into making L’Atelier and I suspected right. Started by a group of friends who wanted to make something unique in Cluj on a shoestring budget, they designed and made all the furniture themselves (with the help of some obliging volunteers.)

L’Atelier also hosts regular music nights and jam sessions. Really, what more could you want?

#3: Papillon Cafe

New on the block, Papillon Cafe is a welcome addition to Cluj’s cafe scene. You might walk past it without ever finding it, but if you make it through the unassuming doorway, Papillon Cafe opens up into a bold and colourful open plan cafe.

The design team put a real emphasis on graphic design, somehow managing to combine minimal, geometric design with a relaxed and fresh atmosphere. And it works wonderfully.

My favourite part of Papillion though is the wonderful balcony area out back with it funky plastic chairs and colourful geraniums. It’s a great place to sit at sunset and watch the world go by.

 You can find these cafes at:

Camino, Piata Muzeului, nr. 4, Cluj Napoca Romania

L’Atelier Cafe, Str. Memorandumului, nr. 9, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Papillon Cafe, Emil Isac nr. 9, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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