Spend a night behind bars at this luxury hostel-turned-prison

Slovenia is a small but picturesque former Yugoslav country in Europe where Central Europe, the Balkans and Eastern Europe come together. Slovenia is a stunning country in the European Alps and a much cheaper alternative to visiting notoriously expensive Switzerland.

Slovenia is adorably green and home to the famous Lake Bled – one of the most perfect alpine lakes in the world. But that’s not all this little country has, Hostel Celica is one of the most bizarre and moving hostels in the world and is an attraction in itself. Hostel Celica is undoubtedly one of the best hostels in Slovenia – and arguably all of Europe.


From political prison to hostel and living museum

Before World War I, Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, after the war it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which eventually turned into Yugoslavia. It was a long road to Slovenian independence (which they achieved in 1991). Before that, what is now Hostel Celica was a political prison where even a former Slovenian president was held for some time.

  • Independence: Reached in 1991

Today Celica Youth 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 features a dark period in Slovenia’s history – and transform it into something different to represent the new path the country is forging.

The prison has been completely renovated and its old cells are private rooms (called cells) and dormitories for travellers. In the basement, there will be an unlit interrogation room without electricity. Discover the dens where prisoners were once interrogated.

The building has also suffered damage in past conflicts. As the building is also a museum, one can see old photos of how the building has been damaged and transformed. The blown holes in the building have been made into new windows.

Related: How This Warsaw Hostel Gets the Hostel Vibe

Accommodation at the Celica Inn

It’s a one-of-a-kind experience to see how an old military prison has been artistically transformed into a funky hostel. Each of the cells was designed by different artists and is unlike any room one is likely to see elsewhere. It’s about seeing is believing.

The hostel has about twenty old prison cells, with bars on the windows and doors. Dorms are more traditional hostel rooms (so spend a bit more and have a private cell for yourself at Celica hostel.

  • Private cell: From $75 per night (for two)
  • Dormitory: From $30 per night

All private rooms have shared bathrooms. As the rooms are former prison cells, there is no room for private bathrooms.

  • Cells: 20 former prison cells (now hostel rooms)
  • Lodging: Private rooms (called cells) and dormitories
  • Bathrooms : All shared bathrooms

If you 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 part of town.

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Celica Inn Location and Stay

Hostel Celica is only a few minutes walk (about 10 minutes) from the old city center of Ljubljana and about 5 minutes walk from the main train station and the bus station. The district is also the trendiest in the city with the Metelkova City district with its cult bars, pubs, galleries, museums, theater, etc.

  • Location: In the funky neighborhood with cult bars

Hostel Celica has an on-site bar and a former prison yard. Enjoy your wine or beer in the prison courtyard surrounded by high prison walls that once locked up political undesirables.

  • Breakfast: Included
  • Bar: Has an on-site bar
  • Gigs: Held on Tuesdays with free admission

Ljubljana is only a small capital and at Hostel Celica you are just a short walk from everywhere in the city. Don’t forget to explore Ljubljana Castle during your stay.

Next time you are in Slovenia, stay at Hostel Celica even if you don’t normally stay in hostels. After a few years of closures, Hostel Celica puts the fun in the closures.

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