Slovenia's unique sleeps: camping, glamping and offbeat lodgings

Blessed with natural splendour in abundance, Slovenia has been crafting itself a well-deserved reputation for clean, green travel. To supplement its outdoorsy appeal, quirky accommodation is springing up in the scenic countryside, and clever locals are embracing and redefining one of the travel world’s hottest crushes: glamping (or glamorous camping).

Get away from it all at Garden Village Bled

Get away from it all at Garden Village Bled © Josh Gantar / Garden Village Bled

Other unusual lodgings are not quite camping but they are far from regulation hotel rooms: you can bed down in giant wine barrels, futuristic cabins or former prison cells. It may just tempt you to plan your Slovenia itinerary based entirely around offbeat sleeping options.

Eco-resort luxury in Bled

A five-minute walk from the southern shore of fairy-tale Lake Bled, Garden Village Bled (gardenvillagebled.com) embraces the eco-resort theme, right down to its charging stations for electric cars. Wooden walkways lead you to three styles of accommodation: the cheapest are small, two-person ‘pier tents’, each built on a jetty over a trout-filled stream. Family-sized tree houses have lots of kid-friendly appeal, or there are safari-style tents with a private hot tub set in your own vegetable garden. Rounding out the package: a plant-filled organic restaurant and a beautiful swimming pool.

If you like this: Also try the swish new Herbal Glamping Resort Ljubno, not far from the impossibly scenic Logarska Dolina (Forester Valley).

Not your average tent: glamping at Garden Village Bled

Not your average tent: glamping at Garden Village Bled © Josh Gantar / Garden Village Bled

Bed down inside a wine barrel in Ptuj

Historic Ptuj sits in handy proximity to some fine wine-producing areas in eastern Slovenia. The country’s wine pedigree surprises many visitors, and Camping Terme Ptuj (sava-hotels-resorts.com) puts it to good use, offering beds inside oversized wooden wine barrels. The campground is next to a thermal spa and water park; an area at the campground’s edge is given over to the ‘Wine Barrel Village’ – home to eight cosy barrels, each containing a double bed, small window and not much else.

If you like this: Also try Camping Bled, by Lake Bled, where a quiet area of the campground houses cute wooden A-frame huts, some with private hot tub.

Sleep in a prison cell in Ljubljana

Right in the heart of Metelkova Mesto, an alternative-culture community in Ljubljana overflowing with art studios and live-music venues, is the colourful, history-rich Celica Hostel. This old military prison (built in 1882) has been transformed into a hostel, with 20 former cells redesigned by local and international artists; each comes complete with bars on doors and windows. There are also regular rooms and backpacker-friendly facilities such as cheap meals, cool common areas and social events.

If you like this: Also try the super-creative MCC Hostel in Celje.

Converted former prison cell at Hostel Celica

Converted former prison cell at Hostel Celica © Hostel Celica

Sky-high views over the Soča Valley

Nebesa translates as ‘Heaven’, and it’s a fitting name for these four heavenly mountain retreats sitting at the top of a winding road about 9km south of Kobarid. They offer breathtaking views over the Soča Valley below (and of paragliders setting off from nearby hilltops). Each chalet sleeps two and has a kitchenette and a terrace; there’s also a communal house with a kitchen and a wine cellar, plus saunas. The owners’ daughter and son-in-law operate the acclaimed Hiša Franko restaurant west of Kobarid, and meals can be arranged.

If you like this: Also try Pristava Lepena (pristava-lepena.com), a delightful complex of houses in a view-blessed valley between Bovec and Trenta.

Nebesa's chalets are in a spectacular mountain location

Nebesa's chalets are set in a spectacular mountain location © Chalets Nebesa

Underground rooms in the Vipava Valley

The fertile, wine-rich Vipava Valley is an excellent place to tour, with gourmet treats and idyllic rural scenery. Majerija is a delicious base, both for its superb restaurant and quirky accommodation. In order to preserve the landscape of heritage buildings, orchards and vineyards, the owners decided to build down rather than up – the result is 10 guestrooms nestled under the herb garden. These simple, stylish rooms feature custom-made timber furniture, skylights above the bed, and a herb theme (they’re named after the lavender, basil and assorted plants growing above).

The rosemary-themed room at Majerija

The rosemary-themed room at Majerija © Majerija

Easy camping on the coast

Slovenia has just 47km of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, and it’s heavily built-up with not much chance of rustic retreat – except for Kaki Plac (adrenaline-check.com/sea), a small, chilled-out campground tucked into the woods outside Lucija, on the outskirts of Portorož. It’s named after the trees that grow here, and shady campsites are built on terraces – BYO tent, or hire one (some sit snugly under thatched Istrian lean-tos and include linen). The welcoming owners provide a sociable communal eating area and free bike hire.

If you like this: Also try Adrenaline Check Eco Place (adrenaline-check.com), a fun, car-free campground in a picturesque clearing outside Bovec, also with tents under shelters for hire.

Kaki Plac, a rare rural retreat on the Slovenian coast

Kaki Plac, a rare rural retreat on the Slovenian coast © Kaki Plac

Off-the-grid camping in Kranjska Gora

There’s loads of back-to-nature appeal (no power, no wi-fi) at the Natura Eco Camp (naturaecocamp.si) outside Kranjska Gora, an Alpine wonderland close to the Italian and Austrian borders. The campground sits in a green glade; BYO tent or stay in a safari tent or unique tree house – the latter are large teardrop-shaped pods suspended from branches, with mattresses on a platform inside (accessed by wooden steps). A cute outdoor kitchen, help-yourself vegetable garden and neighbouring field of horses add to the rustic allure.

If you like this: Also try Camp Korita (camp-korita.com) in the Soča Valley, with cool hammock tents and glamping huts.

Futuristic cabins in Bela Krajina

In a tiny hamlet called Podlog (8km from the regional centre of Črnomelj) in Slovenia’s underrated southeast corner of Bela Krajina, Glamping Malerič is a swanky new complex that’s home to four futuristic, family-sized cabin lined up beside a swimming pool, enjoying splendid rural views. Each curvaceous cabin is stylishly compact, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen facilities and living space.

Glamping-Malerič-Carolyn-Bain_cs

Futuristic cabins at Glamping Malerič in Bela Krajina © Carolyn Bain / Lonely Planet

Family glamping near Brežice

The huge Terme Čatež spa and holiday complex is loaded with indoor-outdoor water parks, wellness centres, saunas and accommodation – don’t come here looking for peace and quiet in summer’s peak (July and August), when it’s bursting at the seams with families and fun-seekers. The facility-laden Camping Terme Čatež (terme-catez.si) welcomes all, but it lures families with a fun array of glamping options: an Indian Village of four-bed tepees; a covered pioneer wagon that sleeps four; and the Pirate’s Bay, a series of bungalows built over the water in the middle of the campground’s lake.

If you like this: Also try Kamp Koren (kamp-koren.si) in Kobarid, with lots of family-friendly features plus some great log-cabin houses for rent.

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