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Have you ever been curious to know how it is to spend the night in a prison cell? We have never planned such adventure, but that’s exactly what happened to us in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. When we were there, we decided to stay in the Hostel Celica Art (“celica” means “cell” in Slovenian), a former military prison turned into a hostel. We spent two nights in a small cell for two people and we will not lie, it was a quite unusual staying for us, somewhat claustrophobic, though remarkable.

Hostel Celica and the Metelkova Borough

House full of graffti and artistic installations in Metelkova

Metelkova Borough

To explain better about this experience, we must start with the Metelkova Borough, where Celica is located. Metelkova is a former military complex built in 1882 by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and later used by the Yugoslav Army. In 1991, when Slovenia declares its independence from Yugoslavia, a group of artists took over Metelkova and turns it into a huge artistic and social occupation in the heart of the Slovenian Capital city, just 10 minutes driving from the city centre.

Metelkova reminds greatly of the Freetown of Christiania in Copenhagen. It was also one of the coolest places we visited in Ljubljana. Amongst art galleries, bars, offices, graffiti and artistic installations, there is also the Celica Hostel. The hostel used to be the prison of this former military complex. Both the Slovenian police and the government have tried to put down Celica, not just once. However, the local residents made a human chain, literally, and managed to keep it standing – almost – untouched. Almost because one of its walls was damaged by a wrecking ball.

Around mid 2000, through an association, the place went through refurbishments and turned into a hostel.

Do you want to know more about other not to be missed sights in Ljubljana? Then check it out this post right here!

The Celica Hostel Cells

Cell door of one of the rooms in Celica Hostel

One of the rooms with the artists name by the entrance

The Hostel Celica has 20 cells. Each one of them was reconstructed by different artists from many different parts of the world. The goal of bringing those artists together was to put a touch of life and colour into this place historically grey and overloaded with negativeness. The window bars and the doors were kept exactly as they were during the prison time. The two shared bathrooms at the end of the corridor were also preserved. By the way, the wall damaged by a wrecking ball was turned into a nice window in one of the cells. You can perfectly see the round shape of the wrecking ball.

Each cell has its original design. We have had the opportunity to see almost all of them and verify that each cell is cooler than the other. All of the cells, however, hid stories and specific details which make your stay a remarkable and unique experience. Unfortunately, you cannot choose the cell you will sleep at the time of your booking, “just as former prisoners weren’t allowed to choose their cells at that time”, as they say. Fair enough!

Beyond the cells

A live concert through the window's bars

Tuesday live concert at Celica Hostel

If you are not so adventurous or just don’t feel like “spending the night in a prison”, you can also choose to stay in one of the 8 “normal” dormitories. Sincerely, what we liked the most about Celica Hostel wasn’t really about the experience of our specific cell/room – which, although interesting, is not the most comfortable, purposely, but, in fact, the whole atmosphere and structure Celica offers. In addition, everyone from the staff team was extremely nice, from the girls at the reception to the Cape Verdean Eduardo, who works in the restaurant, to the manager Tanja.

We felt like they really care about their guests. And that is the kind of memory we hold most dearly from all the places we visit.

The infrastructure of Hostel Celica

The corridor of the dormitory in Celica Hostel

The corridor of the “normal” dorms at the top floor of Celica

There are other places of the hostel which was also repaired by artists, such as a very charming Oriental Room; the Restaurant/Bar, which by the way host musical events always and serve delicious and not expensive food; as well as the reception and an outside area quite nice for sunny days.

Another highlight of Celica is its breakfast buffet. They serve it everyday from 7h30 to 10h30 for just 4 Euros, which is generally included in your staying, but also available for anybody.

How much is to sleep at Celica Hostel?

A cell room painted by an artist in Celica hostel

One of the rooms at Celica Hostel

Well, it is not the cheapest place we have found. However, it is not an usual place we are talking about as well, but a hostel which has great originality and history. So…

Accommodation TWC N of beds Nov 1st to Mar 31st Apr 1st to May31st and Oct 1st to 31st June 1st to Sep 30th
Cell Shared 2 24-26 26-28 30-33
3 22-24 24-26 28-31
Room Ensuite 4,5 21-33 23-25 26-29
Dormitory ensuite 7 18-20 20-22 21-33
12 17-19 19-21 20-22

PRICES ARE IN EUROS PLUS A TOURIST TAX OF 1,27 PER PERSON – They also have a range of discounts possibilities.

Check their availability direct from here!

Our staying at the Celica Hostel was an agreement between the two parts, but the opinion here expressed are fully sincere. Our primary commitment is with you, readers, and regardless of the partnership, we would never fail to give an honest review of our experience.