I can’t resist a hostel that used to be something else. Like KEX in Reykjavik that used to be a biscuit factory, or Clink78 in London that used to be a courthouse. I just like staying somewhere that had a history in the destination I’m visiting. It gives it more character, you know?
So on my trip to Ljubljana in Slovenia I was keen to stay at Hostel Celica, a former prison.
Hostel Celica, Ljubljana
The building was originally a prison within the Austro-Hungarian Army’s military barracks in Metelkova, Ljubljana. When the Yugoslav National Army departed Ljubljana and Slovenia was given independence, the city tried to demolish the building, but artists took up residence, squatting illegally to prevent them from tearing it down. Eventually the building was restored and became Hostel Celica, opening in 2003.
Hostel Celica boasts 20 former prison cells that have been completely transformed into private rooms. They still retain original features such as bars on the windows and actual prison doors (there’s another door for privacy but it’s a nice touch).
But the best part is that each of these 20 cells have been renovated by local artists. And different local artists at that, so that each of the cells is unique and has it’s own personality. And you can’t reserve a particular cell, they’re assigned to you upon check-in so it’s always a surprise as to what kind of room you’re going to get!
I stayed at Room 102 at Hostel Celica, a cell designed in a Scandinavian style, and it was pretty cool. There’s a double bed suspended above the room, leaving lots of space for storage and a table and chairs. It definitely feels pretty light and airy for a prison cell! Not at all as claustrophobic as I thought it might be.
Communal bathrooms are just down the hall and are super clean and they never had queues, which is what you want right? Plus the girls ones are completely covered in hot pink tiles, so there’s that!
The Common Rooms
The common areas of Hostel Celica are very chilled out. There’s a large outdoors terrace with colourful tables and chairs, and hammocks for relaxing. This is where I ate my breakfast everyday, out in the sunshine. The breakfast itself is pretty basic tbh, just toast and eggs really, but it was a really nice setting to enjoy it in.
Inside, there’s a bar with reasonably-priced drinks and a pretty unique room called the ‘Oriental Cafe’ that has low rattan seats and murals on the walls. Lovely for chilling out with a beer.
A really cool feature is that some original solitary confinement cells have been preserved in the basement. It’s pitch black and pretty terrifying to go down there, but I liked that they’ve kept a slice of the building’s history intact.
Hostel Celica is located in Metelkova, an alternative area of the city that has been completely covered in colourful graffiti and unusual art installations. It’s an area that comes alive at night with bars and young people drinking in the square. It’s for sure a unique place to visit!
Despite the nightlife, it wasn’t remotely noisy at the hostel at night which I liked. It’s actually known that Hostel Celica is a place to come for a quiet drink after the bars as it’s an infamous establishment in the area.
For the city sights, it’s about a 10 minute walk down to the main square and the river so it’s real easy to spend your time exploring Ljubljana on foot.
Overall I very much enjoyed my visit to Hostel Celica. Despite being so close to the Metelkova nightlife, this is less of a party hostel and more of a YHA-esque hostel that is perfect for groups, families and school visits – you know what I mean?
The people are friendly, the location is perfect and sleeping in a cell is definitely an experience you need to try! I’d definitely recommend a visit when you’re in town.
Would you stay in one of the cells at Hostel Celica? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!
Total Blogger Transparency: My stay at Hostel Celica was complimentary but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I wouldn’t play you like that, shorty.