Located not very far away from the historic centre of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in the city of Metelkova, Hostel Celica was rated as the No.1 hippest hostel in the world. After arriving at the capital of Slovenia, I decided to stay here for an extra night just to enjoy the experience of staying in a former prison a bit longer. Here are some reasons why this hostel is one of the most unique accommodations to try in Europe:
It is located in the underground hippy city of Metelkova
Forget the fancy hotel beds. Leave out the luxurious shopping streets and hectic center you can find around almost any centrally located hostel around Europe. At the front door of Hostel Celica, you will find Metelkova, a fascinating and alternative culture community with plenty of art galleries, artists’ studios, LGBT spaces, cultural organizations, bars, and clubs featuring different types of alternative music. You can enjoy strolling around the area, taking photographs, listening to music, and being allured by the open-air exhibition that you have never seen before anywhere else in Europe. The area is safe to wander around at night, so do not hesitate to grab your friends and explore some jazz bars in the area as soon as it gets dark. The good news is that the city center is not very far away, about 10 minutes’ walk, so you can enjoy sightseeing at all the main attractions on foot.
Hostel Celica’s history is intriguing
Once a prison 100 years ago, it is today one of the most unique art hostels in the continent. Hostel Celica used to be a place that categorized people based on their beliefs and acts, and has since been transformed into a social centre for artists and travelers. Eighty local and international artists struggled to renovate the abandoned buildings where Celica is based, and by 2003 they managed to restore this military prison into a youth hostel.
Celica is more than just a hostel - it is art!
Nowadays, you can still experience the thrill of walking down the humid, narrow and intimidating remaining areas lying in some underground parts of the hostel. The prison cells and doors are so dark and small that one can be scared even during daytime walking down there. Don’t be surprised upon your arrival to find that you are not staying in a hostel, but in an art gallery and museum. The museum of solitary confinement, open in the basement, is open for visitors for no charge. It’s also free to visit the Srečišče Gallery within the building, hosting at least one exhibition. It can also be rented as an event hosting venue.
Spend the night behind bars
Twenty former prison cells of Celica are unique works of art with special prison bars on windows and doors. In spite of its reputation, Hostel Celica offers rooms at a reasonable price. I traveled off-season in mid-April and could find a discount dorm bed at around 13 EUR (15 USD) including city taxes, free linen and towel, and lockers for storing important items, but you must bring your own lock or give your belongings to the receptionist if you do not have one. The rooms are ensuite with a toilet and shower inside, and also have desk lights and wooden bars.
The restaurant provides a diverse menu
Breakfast and lunch are available at the hostel’s restaurant at affordable prices. You can take a look at their diverse weekly menu, including a fixed menu, soups, main dishes and desserts, on their website. I have not tried the food so far but the space for dining looks stunning. There are both indoor and outdoor tables that are suitable for small to large groups of more than 20 people. They also offer catering services for business meetings, seminars and informal gatherings, so you can even throw a birthday party here.
There’s always something going on - from concerts to art exhibitions
Besides different art exhibitions coming up every now and then, Hostel Celica also organizes music nights and live concerts that are perfect for music enthusiasts. Cheap cocktail nights and burger nights are also arranged regularly for foodies. Events and gatherings take place in plenty of common spaces. Guests can chill in the laid-back oriental cafe with a cup of tea, grab a coffee in the modern western cafe, enjoy a beer at the cozy and homey Slovene Gostilna bar corner, and have lunch or smoke at the garden area.
The great atmosphere will make you want to stay
Despite remaining one of the best hostels in the city and in a cool area, Hostel Celica offers a relaxed atmosphere. Guests can be fun and lively during event nights in the common area, but the rooms are kept quiet and calm. Most people do not hesitate to say hello or start a conversation if you need to ask something. There are crazy parties every now and then, but you can also chill and enjoy the unique and calm vibe that Ljubljana has to offer.
The ultimate hostel for every traveler
You can find all your needs in this top-rated hostel in the Balkans, as well as satisfying facilities, a lively yet relaxed atmosphere, and a helpful and welcoming receptionist. Celica does have its quirkiness of an old building, but modern facilities that every traveler would be grateful for. Come to Ljubljana - the city of Dragon to experience a stay at this No.1 hostel in town.