My judgment for “best hostel I’ve ever been to” has once again been updated: Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hostel Celica is listed as one of Lonely Planet’s 25 “must visit” lodgings. Actually a former prison, the guest rooms themselves are artistically revamped cells – each designed by a different group of artists and architects. The facilities are spotlessly clean, and offer every amenity you’d expect of a high-class hotel: outdoors gardens and balconies, a bar, a restaurant, computers with internet, even a Middle Eastern-style lounge complete with hookahs.
The included free breakfast is even better than Le Montclaire, with meat and cheese baguettes, scrambled eggs, assorted juices, cereal, yogurt, etc. If you don’t feel like having the included meal, of course there are communal kitchens you can use for your own cooking as well. The building is absolutely covered with huge windows and skylights, so it feels bright and friendly as can be, and is located within sight of the train station and city center, right on the main nightlife strip.
In the evening you can listen to live music at half a dozen venues all within less than a hundred paces of your door – though there isn’t really a reason to do so, as they have live bands come in to play at least once a week. In fact, they organize a variety of events for their guests each and every night – from BBQ’s to cocktail parties to hookah parties. They even have an on-site art gallery.
It’s such an incredible hostel that they’ve started offering daily tours, where dozens of people staying elsewhere can come just to see the place. Add it to your lists, ladies and gentlemen: if you’re in Slovenia, don’t stay anywhere other than Hostel Celica. It may cost a few bucks more than any of the other hostels in town, but trust me, it’s well worth it.
Upon arriving and checking in around midnight (thankfully I had 50 euros left in my wallet from Paris so I could go straight there without having to roam around and find an ATM) I spent nearly three hours just chatting with my new roommates: three Americans who were living in Germany and an Australian who had been traveling and partying around Eastern Europe for the past three months. By coincidence he too had spent some time in Budapest – over four weeks. His stories of the exact open-air parties and Cinetrip thermal bath events I’d hoped to visit just made me want to go back even more. Especially when he described his hostel, Carpe Noctum, another world-famous lodging specifically oriented towards socializing between single travelers. Now I know.
I suppose it was a bit foolish to’ve stayed up so late just chatting after such a long sleepless night – I was once again starting to feel hints of a sore throat – but it was so nice to be chatting with other travelers after those two weeks in a single room that I just couldn’t call it quits.
Whatever, this is what backpacking is all about 🙂
The next morning I got up and jumped on an 11am bus to Bled, a lakeside town in the Julian Alps just an hour away from Ljubljana. It was described by Lonely Planet as so beautiful that it seems to’ve been designed by “some God of tourism.” Sounds worth an hour-long bus ride to me 🙂