About the Hotel
Following the disintegration of the USSR and the withdrawal of Yugoslavian troops from Slovenia in 1991 much has changed after the so-called “iron-curtain” was drawn. A perfect example of this is Hostel Celica, a former prison that has been transformed into a youthful hostel, and has now become a tourist attraction in its own right. Apart from being a social hostel, Celica is also an art gallery and hosts a number of meeting and cultural events. Located within the sovereign social centre of Metelkova City, the hostel’s official address is at Metelkova 8, SI – 1000 Ljubljana. The area in and around the hostel is full of art galleries, beer bars & clubs, and a number of the country’s prominent artists’ studios. The hostel has received a number of accolades, including the award for No.1 Hostel in Slovenia (based on guest review), and has even been included in the list of “25 Ultimate Places to Stay” by Rough Guides.
Because of the painfully slow pace of bureaucracy that the USSR was known for, the situation got even worse after Slovenia’s separation from Yugoslavia, and the process of transferring the ownership of this ex-Yugoslavian army barracks from the government ministries to peoples’ collective that has set up to run the hostel, as a long and winding road. But the project bore fruit after years of perseverance and battling red tape, and this once grim prison is gaining worldwide popularity for its uncanny transformation into a funky and fun-filled social hostel, with the establishment being on the receiving end of a number of accolades for its rooms, architecture, and of overall hospitality.
The outer wall of the hostel is covered in graffiti, leading many to assume that it’s a run-down establishment, but is actually the work of the artist that worked on the hostel’s interiors as well. However, the exterior of the hostel is hardly its selling point, with its rooms being the real centre of attention. The old military barracks provides a one-of-a-kind living experience, with a total of 29 rooms that are completely different from each other. The hostel features 20 uniquely designed cells and rooms, as well as large dorms and suites, within the attic space. The hostel also features a room with disabled access.
The exterior of the hotel is not much to go by and it’s quite easy to miss it, if it weren’t for the buildings eye-catching paint job that includes a variety of shades of red, pink, purple and, yellow. The outer wall of the hostel is covered in graffiti, leading many to assume that it’s a run-down establishment, but is actually the work of the artist that worked on the hostel’s interiors as well. However, the exterior of the hostel is hardly its selling point, with its rooms being the real centre of attention. The old military barracks provides a one-of-a-kind living experience, with a total of 29 rooms that are completely different from each other. The hostel features 20 uniquely designed cells and rooms, as well as large dorms and suites, within the attic space. The hostel also features a room with disabled access.
All of the already restored hostel’s rooms were artistically renovated once again in 2003, into the comfortable and one-of-a-kind 2 and 3-bed rooms that the hostel has become famous for. The entire renovation process was performed and supervised by over 80 artists, Slovenian and foreign. Each of the unique cell rooms along the first floor of the hostel was decorated by a different artist, making every room unique in its own way. While some feature mezzanine bunk beds to make the best use the limited room space, most others have retained the eerie charm of the old prison by keeping the prison window bars on the doors. While none of the twenty cells are en-suite, the toilet facilities located on the floor above are very clean and extremely functional, although a bit crowded in the mornings. The rooms in the attic space have en-suite facilities, but are 12-bed and 7-bed dormitory-style suits, which could become a bit noisy of there is a band or concert playing in the café just below. So, don’t forget to carry a set of ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper, because despite the “quiet-hours” policy of the hostel, Metelkova square will be buzzing with activity way past midnight.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia’s, as well as its largest city. The region is best known for its university-going population that can be found all over the place, including the expansive green spaces of Tivoli Park. The best part about Hostel Celica? It is located near a number of the city’s major attractions. For those looking for nothing more than a relaxing getaway, the Hostel itself can be an attraction of sort, hosting a number of social and cultural events. The hostel conducts concerts every Tuesday, followed by jam sessions by local and international musicians. The hostel also has an art gallery, and is the popular venue for a number of international art exhibitions. The gallery even hosts a number of poetry reading and debate workshops. Even the rooftop restaurant and bar is unique, being separated into three themed areas; an Oriental Café, the “Cyber Café” and, the “Gostilna” Pub in the centre. The restaurant serves buffets, a range of drinks, cocktails, and hookahs, as well as snacks.
Confinement Museum – In homage to its original purpose, the basement of Hostel Celica houses a museum of solitary confinement, depicting how life would have been during the structure’s dark prison history. The museum also chronicles the structure’s evolution from Soviet-era prison barracks to social hostel. The museum even features fully-restored confinement cells, which are located below the Point of Peace, the hostel’s other attraction. You can access the museum via a vertical that can be found in the hostel’s common room.
Point of Peace – Touted as an open cell wherein weary travellers can rest of awhile or regroup, the point of peace is a special cell that has its bars removed. The room is a great place for meditation or peaceful recollection, and is a great place to stop and collect your thoughts. The brightly lit, white-walled room also features 6 niches, each of which contains an artefact that represents each of the 5 major world religions.
Some of the top attractions of the city are within mere walking distance of Hostel Celica. Plan a visit to the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, which is one of Ljubljana’s symbolic structures, and The Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the capital’s most prolific church. Nothing beats the pleasure of getting a bike on rent from the hotel and exploring the surroundings of Hostel Celica. So, rent a bike from the hotel and ride to the Church, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city en-route.
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How to Book:
- Upon their arrival at Ljubljana, and more specifically Hostel Celica, tourists are privy to a host of benefits including free wi-fi, free parking, and special discounts for kids, people with disabilities, etc.
- If you’re wondering when you should visit the hostel, summertime is Ljubljana’s peak season, mostly because it hosts various summer festivals and outdoor cocktail parties that showcase everything from live bands, ballet, or daring street performances.
- As Ljubljana attempts to market itself as a wine loving city, Ljubljana also hosts their very own wine festivals and wine tasting ceremonies, usually held between May and June of every year.
- Hostel Celica also hosts a number of popular social events including Sunday brunches, tortilla parties, and a €5 Barbeque night.
- If none of the above activities are interesting enough, tourists can walk down to the centre of town, a mere 10 minutes away.
- The hostel also offers special packages for guests who want to rent a bicycle, motorbike or even a car.
- The hostel restaurant keeps on changing the menu, so before you decide to head over to a restaurant in the city, check with the chef.
- Budget some time for the Point Of Peace; it can be really refreshing to be at the common room, which symbolizes openness to all cultures, religions, and ways of life.