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Hostel Celica|© Žiga Okorn / Courtesy of Hostel Celica
Hostel Celica|© Žiga Okorn / Courtesy of Hostel Celica
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Sleep in a Cell at the Most Artistic Hotel in the World

Picture of Andreja Posedel
Updated: 18 October 2017

Enhance your experience in Ljubljana by staying at the most artistic hostel in the world. Hostel Celica is conveniently located within walking distance of downtown and provides more than just the basic amenities. You can spend a night in an artistically transformed prison cell, meet new people in three different cafés, and enjoy art exhibitions at the in-house art gallery. Next time you visit Slovenia’s capital, make sure to spend a night behind the prison bars in Hostel Celica.

This former military prison in the middle of Ljubljana was constructed in 1882 in the Metelkova area and was part of the Austro-Hungarian Army’s barracks. When the Yugoslav Army took over the barracks after WWII, they maintained the original purpose. It was only after Slovenia gained independence in 1991 that the Metelkova barracks were emptied and a group of artists presented a plan to convert the buildings into a multicultural art center. With little understanding or support from local authorities, the artists and supporting activists squatted at Metelkova and began transforming the area on their own. They turned the buildings into works of art and started hosting galleries, small concert and artist’s studios. When the idea to build a hostel in one of the army buildings was approved in 2001, more than 80 artists took part in the reconstruction.

Twenty of the old prison cells were transformed into cozy, creative rooms suitable for guests. Each was designed and decorated by a different artist and can stand alone as a piece of art, but all of the rooms still have bars on the windows and doors, which connects the present with the past. Hostel Celica, from its inception, was intended to be more than just a place for visitors to spend the night. An art gallery was added to the common area to enhance the artistic experience and to provide a space for young, local, and international artists to exhibit their work. The Museum of Confinement, where the actual solitary cells from the original prison can still be seen, presents another tool that connects present with the past. Perhaps one of the most interesting additions to the hostel is the Point of Peace. This quiet room in the common area allows travelers to take a moment for themselves and a break from the world. There are six niches in the room, five present main world religions, and the sixth is left empty to accommodate any other religion or personal belief.

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A Cell © Žiga Okorn/Courtesy of Hostel Celica

The rest of the common areas of Hostel Celica provide an inviting environment for meeting people and enjoying the company of new and old friends. The relaxed atmosphere and décor of the Oriental Café is perfect for a coffee or tea accompanied with a traditional hookah. On the opposite side of the building, the Western Café sits in contrast to the Oriental area, with its concrete and glass design. In between is the Slovene Gostilna (traditional Slovene tavern), which provides balance between East and West. The tavern offers a bar, dining room, and performance venue for evening events.

With unique sleeping accommodations and well thought out common areas, the Hostel Celica indeed achieved the goal of being more than a hostel. Since opening, it has become a vibrant part of the local community and a place that connects people from around the world.

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Oriental Café | © Žiga Okorn/Courtesy of Hostel