Review: Hostel Celica – Spend a night behind bars in Ljubljana

For 100 years, the thick-stoned building on Metelkova Street Slovenia was known as the political prison in Ljubljana; an imposing hell designed to imprison people according to different opinions and beliefs.

The prison shows a darker side of Ljubljana’s history, but it has grown into a social center and a melting pot of art, culture, and positive vibes.

It has transformed into a hostel.

This post contains referral links for products I love. Adventurous Miriam earns a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through my links. I appreciate your support ♡ Learn more

About Hostel Celica

Celica hostel was my first stop in the Balkans and I was more than excited to spend a night in an old Yugoslavian prison. I’ve stayed in alternative hostels before, but this one – a former prison – HAD to be the coolest one so far. 

At least Lonely Planet thinks so because they’ve named it the number 1 hippest hostel in the world.

The prison features 20 cells that have been redesigned by 80 local and international artists.

Each cell has its own design and story to tell,  but they all have one essential feature in common: prison bars on windows and doors.

Hostel Celica - My night in a Yugoslavian prison
Celica means “cell” in Slovene
Celica hostel, Ljubljana
Celica Hostel opened its doors in 2003
My night in a Yugoslavian prison
Each cell features a name tag of the designer and prisoner

Spending the night in a cell

During my night in a Slovenia prison, I stayed in cell 107, which is a Russian cell. The wall was painted blue with little crosses that represent how many days the prisoner had been incarcerated.

One of the things I really liked about Hostel Celica is how – ironically – it feels like a home. Everything about the hostel is created with a goal of inclusivity in mind and I felt it straight away when I arrived.

The design is bright and colorful, the atmosphere is inviting and lively, and the staff is the friendliest, ever.

You might think that the building would feel haunted or have a bad vibe, but this is not the case at all. On the contrary, everyone is happy and there’s a welcoming atmosphere.

Celica hostel, Ljubljana
This was my cell for the night
Celica hostel
The Western Cafe
My night in a Yugoslavian prison

Events at Celica Hostel

During the day, people hang out in the dining area or in the garden, which is also a popular place after dark.

The hostel often hosts events such as concerts, cultural happenings, BBQs,s and cocktail nights. The events are free for hostel guests, and visitors have to pay a small entrance fee.

Celica hostel, Slovenia
The garden and outside dining area
My night in a Yugoslavian prison
The Oriental Room
My night in a Yugoslavian prison
1st floor art
Celica hostel, Ljubljana
The Oriental Cafe room

A guided tour of Celica hostel

One of the fascinating aspects of the Celica hostel is the Point of Peace; a former cell that has been converted into a prayer and meditation room.

It has alters for the five major world religions and an empty one for any other religion or for those who aren’t religious. The hostel created this tranquil space to ensure that no one ever feels alienated here again.

As I walked through the first floor, I suddenly found myself entering an art gallery with contemporary art exhibitions. It’s open all day, and workshops, cultural events, seminars, and debates often take place here.

In the basement, there are two untouched former solitary confinement cells. It only took me a few seconds to find out that there was no natural lightning downstairs, but with my flashlight I could see the prisoners’ inscriptions on the wall.

Celica hostel, Ljubljana
A tour around the hostel

The funky Metelkova street in Ljubljana

A great thing about Celica is the location. Not only is it located in Metelkova, which is the coolest place in Ljubljana. It is also only 10 minutes walk from the city center and the bus & train station.

Celica hostel is not your typical youth hostel; it’s a historic hostel that offers you a unique experience with a surrounding art scene both inside and outside the building.

That, and it’s genuinely homely and welcoming.

Personally, this is the coolest and most memorable place I’ve stayed. I mean, in how many hostels can you spend a night behind bars?

Metelkova, Slovenia
Weird art in Metelkova
Metelkova, Ljubljana

Many thanks to Celica Hostel for generously hosting me and welcoming me to Ljubljana. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Before you go – don’t miss these posts:

Pin it!

My night in a former Yugoslavian prison, Slovenia

Similar Posts


    1. Thanks Rajiv, it’s BY FAR the coolest hostel I’ve stayed at. I loved the history, atmosphere and design. Highly recommend it if you’re ever in Slovenia.

  1. Just to set the record straight, this was not really a prison for political prisoners. While young men served in the army, they could end up in there for transgressions like being drunk, getting into a fight or something like that.

  2. What a cosy cell! We are planning to visit Ljubljana early next year but were looking at AirB&B places; perhaps we’ll give this hostel a go instead, it looks lovely.

  3. Definitely a hostel with a difference! It looks so welcoming and friendly, and nothing like a former prison! Apart from the bars, of course…. :). One to consider if I ever make it back to Slovenia :).

    1. Ironically enough, this is one of the most welcoming hostels, I’ve been to. It has soul and that’s what I really like about it. I hope you get to visit some day 🙂

  4. It looks just awesome! I also stayed in a converted prison turned hostel in Christchurch, New Zealand, and I recently visited the abandoned Patarei Prison in Estonia, so that sounds like a good follow-up for me… I’m really impressed at how great they’ve made it look!

    1. How cool! Would love to visit the prison in Estonia – I bet it has lots of history. If you ever find yourself in Ljubljana, I highly recommend spending a night at Celica hostel. I think you’ll like it!

    1. I was really surprised by how cosy it was. It felt nothing like an old prison and there were no bad vibes at all. They have done a great job transforming it into a postive place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *