The team at ‘24/7 Valencia’ stepped into the wonderful Café de las Horas just off Plaza de la Virgen in the heart of Valencia to speak with owner Marc, to discuss the history of the café bar and the evolution the bar has lived through over the last 30 years. He also told us about the new ‘Liquor Café de las Horas’ that is the main ingredient in their famous Agua de Valencia drinks…and the incredible customers that come through the door, both tourists and local regulars.

24/7 Valencia: Hello, Marc. So, could you tell us a little bit about the origins, history and inspirations behind Café de las Horas?

 Marc: Café de las Horas is my baby, it’s my passion. In its origins, it was a moment of youthful passion – this idea of ‘wouldn’t it be lovely to create something possibly different’. This all began in Valencia in the 90s which is a very different Valencia from the one we know now, with lots of charm, a great party place – but not so many places for conversation, writing, reading or meditation. So this was the idea: I had the time and the desire to spend time, by myself, but not alone, and there were very few cafes for this in Valencia.

It began from the inspiration provided by the Café de Tertulias, where people would go to have political, literary and intellectual conversations around the end of the 19th century. Great minds came together in Madrid in cafes and public spaces, to discuss philosophy and politics. I felt this need for a different kind of space, something similar to this feel of the Café de Tertulias, but in Valencia.

So this is something that inspired Café de las Horas – but then at night we would transform the café into a space that was full of theatrical performance and a bohemian, underground artistic feel; we were pushing the limits. We were also doing the fetish parties, the 70s parties, the Halloween parties, and we were having a great time, dancing on top of the bars! We had young artists and fashion designers and pretty much the bohemian spectrum! So, these are the roots of the café.

Could you explain where the name, Café de las Horas came from?

So, we chose the name because of the medieval ‘Books of Hours’. Why we fell in love with this name is because it combines this beauty, the gold leaves, the ornate writing, and the colour of the art, along with historical and literary elements. We wanted a café that would celebrate and combine aesthetic joy along with value. It’s all about what you see and what you feel – its a sensorial experience, but it’s also an intellectual experience. There’s a reference to literature, there’s a reference to history, there’s a reference to the human condition.

 The decor and artwork in the café is beautiful, could you tell us a little bit about it?

So we have frescos on the walls, which depict the different seasons, las horas, the hours, it’s a reference to the name and conveys the passage of time. We commission artwork, a new piece of art for each season, so we can see the change of season, and so that there is a sense of cohesion in the madness. We change our art every spring, summer, autumn, winter. Currently we have on display the piece of artwork by Toño Saldaña; it is a beautiful painting of one of our ‘Licor Cafe de las Horas’ bottles!

Tell us a bit about your very popular Agua de Valencia and your new ‘Licor Café de las Horas’?

We’ve been doing Aqua de Valencia for 30 years, so we decided to make our own liquor, ‘Liquor Café de las Horas’, to give the drink our own distinct, exquisite flavour. So within the recipe we have orange and mandarin, which is my own special touch. It’s not just fruit – we also played with essential oils and with the aroma of dried peel, and herbs such as mint and dried basil – so it’s that little more complex. It’s the perfect souvenir! To take this away and have the perfect taste of Valencia with you. The idea is that this bottle will make you 3 litres worth of Agua de Valencia, alongside orange juice and cava – or any type of bubbly for that matter. I’ve tried it with Prosecco, with champagne, I’ve tried it in Romania, France, Italy, I travel with my bottle – I try to see if it goes elsewhere with different juices and different bubbles – and it works!

The label on the bottle is elegant and vibrant, what were the inspirations behind the design?

The label is decorated with peonies, which is our fetish flower, along with orange blossom, and the beautiful blue flowers, symbolising the sea and the sky of Valencia. Also, the traditional Valencian menswear is a big inspiration for this label – in the Indianos that is used for the waistcoats. The lettering is reminiscent of the Books of Hours, and of course we have the gold leaf elements, so the label is just very Valencian.

You mention travelling to different countries with the Liquor Café da las Horas; tell us a bit about this.

Café de la Horas has represented Valencia as the ambassador of the Agua de Valencia for a while now, with official presentations having taken place in Bucharest, the Lyon street food festival, the IGLTA convention in Milan, and we’re going to Marseille next week for another ‘Taste of Valencia’ event. The presentations are primarily organised by the Ayuntamiento and by ‘Visit Valencia’ – we try to create a Valencian experience, a taste of Valencia. It targets cities with which we, in Valencia, are connected by direct flights, to promote Valencia – and of course, promoting the Auga de Valencia and our special liquor comes along with it!

Could you explain to us how Covid affected Café de las Horas, and how were you able to successfully pull through the other side?

Covid was a difficult time for everyone, and there were certain sectors of the economy that suffered more. Covid was depressing, dark and bewildering, because it is very difficult to see your world flash and disappear. We weren’t just remote working: we ceased to exist, we ceased to have income. Once the shock is over, you have to come to grips with reality, get back in the game. Life in the ‘Café de las Horas’ ceased to exist, but life online, that could be kept going and could be kept vibrant – so I dedicated a lot of time to making sure that the name Cafe de las Horas didn’t disappear from people’s memories. In August, ironically, I was excited and motivated, I was thrilled because there was a challenge that ended up being one of the most exciting times for the café – and I can speak of it now because we survived, and we have done very well! The result was great because we were pushed outside of the box and had to come up with new ideas. So I’m very of proud of what we did in Covid!

 We did fashion shoots, we designed our own face masks, we made a different face mask for every different look! We had a baroque facemark, and tea party face mask! You take the disaster, you find solutions, and you make those solutions as fun as you can!

Tell us about your customers. After Covid, was it the same crowd that returned?

What was a marvellous part of the Covid experience, was that the minute we re-opened, our Valencia customers were back as soon as they could, so I felt that we had contributed to the city – that we are a part of Valencia, and that I had done my bit to change things, and I found during this time, that we were truly appreciated!

 This brings me to something I’d like to share: we’ve been here since 1994 and we have journeyed for 30 years – we have given as much as we can, but we have received so much. We have had so much talent walk through these doors, there is so much magic in our customers, and I believe the part of the magic of the cafe is because you come in, and you leave part of your essence. This cafe is adorned and has sparkles, and that’s because of the people who walk through the door and have shared things with us. So over these 30 years, we have grown and we have evolved – and we have been accompanied in these 30 years by other young, adventurous, talented, artists, teachers, businessmen. We started in great company and we feel that we still have great company. And it’s an amazing experience to be here today!

What do you see for the future of Café de la Horas?

I think it’s a fabulous space, the cafe is exceptional and unique – we have survived 30 years, there’s something going on here that proves that here we have something that is more than just a pretty place, we’re also a business. I have managed to make my passion a business after so many years of trial and error. So now my latest adventure is I have started the venture of franchising the Café de la Horas, and the idea is that you will now have the opportunity to start without my mistakes. That concept of the Parisian cafe, Café de Tertulias, the English tea salon, there’s a lot of the American cocktail bar, and there is our own personal interpretation of all of this – and it means that we can survive the changes in the market. We can survive the changes in the demographic, changes in the economic capacity of each age bracket. It survived the 90s, it survived the change from the peseta to the euro and it survived the 2008 economic crash where many businesses closed. And, though all of this, we have managed to come back stronger than ever!

Report by Jenny Grierson

Article copyright of 24/7 Valencia

Photo copyright  Polly Watton/ ’24/7 Valencia’


 Café de las Horas

 C/ del Comte d’Almodóvar, 1

Ciutat Vella



Tel: 963 91 73 36


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