Cafés are generally a cheap spot to enjoy a quick coffee and a bite to eat, but like nearly everything else in the world, luxury versions of cafés exist. Although the café originated in Europe and quickly became a meeting spot for intellectuals and artists, they have become a global phenomenon – many of the world’s most luxurious cafés now exist in Asia and the Middle East. Several of the cafés now scattered across the globe are designer cafés: not only are the locations themselves luxurious, but they’re backed by top designer brand names like Ralph Lauren and Gucci. Whether the cafés on this list are designer brand or not, each one has a unique vibe and stellar coffee and food, but they certainly aren't cheap. Some may argue that the food and drink is overpriced, while others may claim that the atmosphere, quality and designer guarantee, more than make up for the steep prices.
15 Zanzibar Café, New South Wales
Zanzibar Café in New South Wales, Australia, offers a lot more than just standard coffee. Bookings are essential if you want a chance at snagging a spot in this high-end café that even specializes in three-course meals. At Zanzibar, presentation is just as important as taste, so be prepared to feel guilty when destroying the chef’s beautiful creations. If you’re after a decadent meal with supreme service, Zanzibar is certainly a place where you can enjoy both great food and the café feel.
14 The Coffee Academics, Hong Kong
The Coffee Academics, located in Hong Kong, is quickly becoming one of the most heralded coffee shops in the world. Coffee Academics’ sleek and modern interior is complimented by their exclusive coffee farm in Panama and a true commitment to the craft. Although it is known as one of the less expensive options on this list, the coffee offered at this hip spot is luxury incarnate. They offer custom blends of coffee and are also very happy to cater to individuals, and they even offer exclusive world-recognized barista classes.
13 Ralph’s Coffee, New York
It seems as though Designer cafés are quickly becoming the next big thing: after seeing roaring success in Tokyo, they've started cropping up across the globe. The famous polo brand, Ralph Lauren, has hopped on the bandwagon as well, by opening Ralph’s Coffee. Centrally located on New York City’s posh Fifth Avenue, Ralph’s coffee offers Italian-style coffee, as well as a selection of snacks and pastries. With cozy minimalist décor and plenty of light from the wall-size windows, Ralph’s is definitely a great spot to luxuriate in quality coffee.
12 Café Tortoni, Buenos Aires
Beautiful Buenos Aires is famous for several aspects – the tango, the steak and last but not least, the coffee. Café Tortoni is known as one of the most luxurious cafes in all of Buenos Aires, so it is definitely worth a visit. Café Tortoni was opened in 1858 and over 150 years later, it is still going strong. Today, the café features events like tango milongas and live music, but retains its cozy meeting-spot vibe. Dark wood panels and soft lighting make Café Tortoni the perfect spot to meet for an afternoon coffee.
11 Gucci, Tokyo
Women dominate the stylish Gucci café in Tokyo: ladies in business-wear meet for stylish and dainty lunches that are backed by Gucci’s world-class logo. The interior is spacious and relaxing and is subsidized by expensive and luxurious fare: an espresso is roughly $9, while a box of chocolates adorned with the renown Gucci logo runs for about $26. Designer cafes got their start in Tokyo, so if you’re looking for a luxurious spot to stop for a coffee and a bite to eat, the Gucci Café is only one of many designer options.
10 VOGUE Café, Moscow
This café is located in the capital city of Russia. Moscow’s VOGUE Café opened its doors in 2003, and has been a roaring hit ever since. The café features food that expertly fuses Russian and European food. The café also combines fashion sensibilities with world-class chefs to ensure a sumptuous and unparalleled experience. Just like one would imagine, with a name like VOGUE, the quality of décor is in line with the quality of food – expect fresh flowers, decadent patterns, crisp white tablecloths, and classy, pristine crystal wineglasses.
9 Oriole Café, Singapore
Singapore, where eating and shopping are seen as national pastimes, is home to Orchard Road, where the world’s largest concentration of malls can be found. Thus, it’s no surprise that Singapore’s Oriole Café has found a fitting place on this list. The café is renowned for its strong coffee (which is certainly useful after a long day of shopping) and delicate pastries. The interior jives with the class coffee shop vibe: warm lights, trendy music and dark wood panels contribute to the luxurious, yet accessible vibe in Oriole Café.
8 Antico Caffé Greco, Rome
Rome’s Antico Caffé Greco is the second oldest, and one of the best-known cafés in all of Italy – quite the claim considering Italy’s global fame for its coffee. The rich and famous frequent this café in droves; even Casanova has allegedly sipped an espresso within its hallowed grounds. Caffé Greco is on the pricier side, though, so expect to pay around ten euros for a cup of coffee, but a lot of the price you’re paying is for the atmosphere of history and luxury, not just for the coffee itself.
7 Café Gambrinus, Naples
Café Gambrinus is also located in Italy, but in the Campania, in Naples. Café Gambrinus has one of the most opulent and elaborate interiors of this entire list. The architecture reflects the dreamy ideals of the Belle Epoch, and this beauty is definitely subsidized by the prices at Gambrinus: a cup of hot chocolate runs over ten euros. Once a favorite of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway, Gambrinus remains a hub for the literary and the elite, and the coffee, as you might imagine, is absolutely unparalleled.
6 Emporio Armani Caffé, Dubai
Dubai is world-famous for its opulence and excessive wealth, so it is no surprise that the Armani Caffé, located in the luxurious Dubai Mall, has a proper place on this list. The Armani Caffé focuses more on simplicity and elegance with their menu. Quality ingredients and a sleek interior combine for a result that is stunning for both the eyes and the taste buds. While not as expensive as some of Italy’s most famous coffee shops, Dubai’s Emporio Armani Caffé is just as lavish, albeit with modern décor.
5 Roberto Cavalli, St. Tropez
As if being in St. Tropez wasn't luxurious enough, Roberto Cavalli recently opened his designer café. The café (as most of his fashion creations) features trendy animal prints and gourmet fare. One of the most interesting elements of Cavalli’s decadent café is the ways in which it changes to suit the time of day. Cavalli offers brunch in the morning, dinner in the evening and, during happy hour, features a live DJ. The combination of versatility, chic décor, and mouth-watering food and drink make Cavalli’s café a must-see at any moment during the day or at night.
4 Café de la Paix, Paris
Paris’ famous Café de la Paix sits just across the Opera house, so you can indulge all of your opulent needs with ease. While it’s certainly not on the cheap side, the steep prices are well worth the luxurious setting. Brunch at the Café de la Paix runs for 85 euros, and is composed of decadent dishes and sumptuous drinks. The likes of Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant called de la Paix their stomping grounds, so you may feel some extra tremors of intelligence when frequenting this renown café.
3 Bulgari, Tokyo
Tokyo’s Gucci Café isn't the only designer café in Tokyo to grace this list. Bulgari’s Il Bar, Terrazza Lounge is even more high-end than the previously mentioned Gucci Café. While chocolates at Gucci may run for a hefty $26 per box, they pale in comparison to these; Bulgari charges around $16 for a single piece of their expertly crafted and detailed chocolates. The interior is muted with neutral tones, creating a relaxed and luxurious atmosphere, certainly something you want to feel after realizing you spent $16 for a single piece of chocolate.
2 Bloomsbury Café, Dubai
The Emporio Aramani Caffé isn't Dubai’s only outstanding café. The Bloomsbury Café is, if anything, even more luxurious than the previously mentioned Armani Café. Bloomsbury prides itself for its luxurious setting, as well as for carrying the world’s most extraordinary cupcakes, and after tasting them, you’d be hard-pressed to argue with that statement. If you’re feeling a little extra indulgent, Bloomsbury’s offers the world’s most expensive cupcake: at $1,000, this gold-infused cupcake complete with real edible gold is undoubtedly a true symbol of luxury.
1 Café Florian, Venice
Café Florian has been around since the early 18th century and has the distinction of being one of the only early coffee houses that also permitted female clients. Café Florian is part museum, part coffee house: the café boasts a private collection of world-renowned art that it loans to museums, and was (and remains) a very important piece of history. The interior features soft lighting and gilded ceilings that contribute to the sumptuousness that is noticeable immediately after walking through the door. If you are a history buff and coffee lover, Café Florian is certainly the ideal location for you.