Slovenia is a small but picturesque country in the former Yugoslavia in Europe, where Central Europe, the Balkans and Eastern Europe meet. Slovenia is a stunning country in the European Alps and a much cheaper alternative to visiting Switzerland, which is notoriously expensive.
Slovenia is adorably green and home to the world famous Lake Bled, one of the most perfect alpine lakes in the world. But that’s not all this small country has to offer, Hostel Celica is one of the strangest and most touching hostels in the world and is an attraction in itself. Hostel Celica is without a doubt one of the best hostels in Slovenia, and possibly in all of Europe.
From political prison to shelter and living museum
Before World War I, Slovenia was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, after the war it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and finally became Yugoslavia. It was a long way to Slovenian independence (which they achieved in 1991). Before that, what is now Hostel Celica was a political prison where even a former president of Slovenia was detained for a time.
- Independence: Achieved in 1991
Today the Celica Hostel is managed by the public institute Ljubljana Castle and is both a hostel and a museum. The idea is to take the old prison, which presents a dark moment in Slovenian history, and transform it into something different to represent the new path that the country is forging.
The prison has been completely renovated and its former cells are private rooms (called cells) and dormitories for travelers. In the basement, you will find an interrogation room with no light and no electricity. See the places where prisoners were once interrogated.
The building has also suffered damage during past conflicts. As the building is also a museum, you can see old photographs of how much the building has been damaged and transformed. The holes made in the building have been transformed into new windows.
Accommodation at Hostal Celica
It is quite a unique experience to see how an old military prison has been artistically transformed into a modern hostel. Each of the cells has been designed by different artists and is unlike any room one has seen elsewhere. It is a case of seeing is believing.
The hostel has some 20 former prison cells, complete with prison bars on the windows and doors. The dorms are more traditional hostel rooms (so spend a bit more and get a private cell for just one while in the Celica hostel).
- Private Cell: From $75 Per Night (For Two)
- Universitary residence: From $30 Per Night
All private rooms have a shared bathroom. As the rooms are former prison cells, there is no space for private bathrooms.
- cells: 20 former prison cells (now hostel rooms)
- Accommodation: Private rooms (called cells) and dormitories
- Toilets: All shared bathrooms
If one can’t afford a cell, they have a selection of 4, 5, 7 and 12 bed dorms with unique art elements. But still, ask for a tour to see some private rooms.
It is a social hostel with a lively atmosphere and is located in the nightlife area of the city.
Location and Lodging at Hostal Celica
Hostel Celica is just a short walk (about 10 minutes) from Ljubljana’s old city center and about a 5-minute walk from the main train and bus station. The neighborhood is also the funkiest the city has to offer with the Metelkova City area with cult bars, pubs, galleries, museums, theatre, etc.
- Location: In The Funky Neighborhood With Cult Bars
Hostel Celica has an internal bar and an old prison yard. Enjoy a wine or beer in the prison courtyard, surrounded by high walls that once enclosed the politically undesirable.
- Breakfast: Included
- Bar: has an internal bar
- Concerts: It is celebrated on Tuesdays with free admission
Ljubljana is just a small capital and at Hostel Celica, one is just a short walk from everywhere in the city. Don’t forget to explore Ljubljana Castle while you’re there too.
Next time you’re in Slovenia, stay at Hostel Celica, even if one doesn’t normally stay in hostels. After a couple of years of lockdowns, Hostel Celica puts the fun into lockdowns.