sleeping in a prison cell: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Staying in a prison cell might sound like a nightmare, but Hostel Celica is more like a strange dream set in the art-meets-grunge Metelkova Mesto area in Ljubljana. Cells from a military prison have been transformed into individual cell rooms designed by local and international artists. My stay at Hostel Celica was one of the most interesting and unique hosted stays I’ve ever had.


HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A STAY at HOSTEL CELICA


from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia

From Prison to Hostel: a bit of Hostel Celica’s history

Before Hostel Celica was a hostel, it was a prison for 100 years. In 1991, the building sat in abandon. While local artists fought hard to preserve the building, the local government tried to end these attempts by having the prison demolished. It wasn’t until 2001 that the city agreed to transform the prison into useable space.

It took 80 artists working collaboratively for two years to make it all happen. Hostel Celica welcomed its first guest in 2003 and since then they have received multiple awards for being the greenest accommodation in Ljubljana.

The dark side of this former prison’s history can be seen in the hostel’s Museum of Confinement, located in the basement. This area once housed the solitary confinement cells.The museum is actually located symbolically right under the Point of Peace, on the third floor— going from dark at the bottom to light at the top of the space. The transformation, as a whole, showcases how something marked with gloom can be illuminated.

from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia
from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia
from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia

green + inclusive spaces

Hostel Celica makes it easy to put the environment first. The hostel meets international standards for sustainability and has received numerous awards for their work increasing environmental awareness. Hostel Celica has made it their mission to constantly strive to improve and find sustainable solutions for the hospitality industry. 

Some of the small details that make a big difference include recycling stations, paper straws at the downstairs bar, and signage encouraging guests to turn off lights and air-conditioning before leaving their rooms. Wooden bins are in every hallway making it easy to sort plastic, glass, paper, compost, and waste. Signs also remind guests to shorten their shower times.

One of the troubles with green accommodation is their buffet breakfasts. Food waste is a terrible thing, so it was incredible to see signs posted near the dining areas and at the start of the buffet encouraging guests to only take as much food from the buffet as they wish to eat to help alleviate this issue.

As a more inclusive touch, the ground floor of the hostel features a room with four beds and a bathroom that is fully adapted for wheelchair access.

Read more about the sustainable mission at Hostel Celica here.


guest amenities

On top of being one of the quirkiest and most thoughtful accommodations I’ve ever stayed in, Hostel Celica also offers guests some real advantages to booking a stay.

First and foremost is the 24-hour reception. When arriving to any city via late night bus or early morning flight, it’s often a hassle to check-in to your room, even if it’s just to lay your luggage down. So, Hostel Celica having a desk that is always manned and security out front in the late evenings is more of a perk than you might think.

Each guests gets free WiFi, fresh linens, and soft towels. Did you forget ear plugs or a sleep mask? Don’t worry, you can grab them from the front desk.

The ground floor of the hostel has a plenty of common spaces, a café that serves snacks and full meals, a full-service bar, and the option for a buffet breakfast {for an additional €4}. There are outdoor and indoor communal spaces available for your enjoyment. On the third floor, there’s a small, shared kitchen space with a lounge and a laundry area.

The staff at Hostel Celica’s reception can hook you up with free city maps, bike rentals, and local tips for the city. If you’re looking to book a tour or excursion outside of the city, the staff are more than willing to help sort you out. They can also store your luggage if the check-out time {11 AM} doesn’t work with your flight or bus departure.

sleeping in a prison cell: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia
from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia

what’s around

Hostel Celica is located outside the heart of Ljubljana in a neighbourhood called Metelkova Mesto, known as Metlekova for short. Metelkova is an autonomous cultural and social center created out of abandoned army barracks. Here, artists began painting murals and creating art installations as a way to preserve the area. It’s mostly known by foreigners for it’s quirky art and political satire, but locals know it as a new wave cultural hub in Ljubljana. We arrived in the dark of night, when Ljubljana was very lively. It’s asked that you don’t take photos of people in the area, in part because some of the area’s bars have become havens for the local LGBTQIA community and there is a wish for identities to be kept private. During the day, however, it’s quite the contrast— almost dead quiet, especially in the bright, early morning.

There’s also a Hoffer supermarket within walking distance and the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, which has a lovely café. While I was in the area, the museum had an exhibit about Shamanism in Siberia. Admission is €6 for adults and €3 for children, seniors, and university students.

Finally, the hostel is only a few minutes walking distance from the bus station. This makes it super convenient if you arrive on wheels or are headed to your next destination by bus.

map

NEED HELP FINDING YOUR WAY? I’ve made a map for you of the neighbourhood.

 

booking + room options

Convinced a cell stay is for you? You won’t regret it! Hostel Celica offers both dorms and private rooms . You can choose whether to bunk-up or go it alone, but you cannot pick a particular cell. The idea is that prisoners didn’t pick their cells, so neither should you. It adds a level of surprise to the overall experience that I quite enjoyed.

I stayed in the French-German Cell 103, complete with prison gratings. This is one of the 20 private cells, which felt like a truly unique experience. Each cell is different and was individually designed by an artist. The artist behind Cell 103, Petra Margouch, is German born living in France. The ceiling was painted to represent the night’s sky and the table in the cell is made from a piece of iron that was recovered during the prison renovation.

You can book your stay and check available dates BELOW.

Booking.com

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Hostel Celica, but all my opinions are my own and my experience is expressed authentically. This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Silly Little Kiwi.


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from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia
from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia
from prison cell to green accommodation: a stay at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia