Lonely Planet Writer

This former Slovenian prison is now a beautiful hostel with uniquely furnished cells

Fancy spending a night in the slammer? A former Slovenian prison has been transformed into one of the most unique hostels in the world, giving guests the opportunity to stay in a range of beautifully furnished cells and rooms.

The Hostel Celica has a choice of 20 cells, each one designed by a different artist to create a unique atmosphere.
The Hostel Celica has a choice of 20 cells, each one designed by a different artist to create a unique atmosphere. Image by Hostel Celica
The building served a prison for over 100 years before being left abandoned in the early 90s.
The building served as a prison for over 100 years before being left abandoned in the early 90s. Image by Hostel Celica
Upon booking, guests are assigned a specific cell and do not get a choice, offering an authentic prison experience with a touch more glamour.
Upon booking, guests are assigned a specific cell and do not get a choice, offering an authentic prison experience with a touch more glamour. Image by Hostel Celica

First constructed in 1882, the building in Ljubljana that now houses Hostel Celica was once a military barracks for the Austro-Hungarian army. Following that, it served as a prison for over 100 years before being abandoned in the early 90s. In 2003 the space was converted after ten years of creative strategies and applications. The project saw over 80 artists and creatives taking part in the relaunch and redesign of the spaces within the walls.

The exterior of the Hostel Celica as it is now.
The exterior of the Hostel Celica as it is now. Image by Hostel Celica
An older picture of the building before redevelopment.
An older picture of the building before redevelopment. Image by Hostel Celica

The Hostel Celica has 20 former prison cells available to rent, with each one having its own specific story and concept. Each of the two and three bedded cells all have prison bars on the windows and doors, while the interiors within vary. Guests are assigned cells at the moment of booking and cannot choose them according to taste, just as prisoners could not choose theirs in the building’s former times. The hostel also has six multi-bed rooms with ensuites for larger groups and those wishing to share with other travellers at a reduced rate.

Cell 101 features a design by Irish artists and flea market furniture as well as a travel motif.
Cell 101 features a design by Irish artists with flea market furniture and a travel motif. Image by Hostel Celica
Cell 115 was the second cell to be completed in the renovation and used to act as the meeting place for the artists working on the hostel. It features antique farming furniture.
Cell 115 was the second cell to be completed in the renovation and used to act as the meeting place for the artists working on the hostel. It features antique farming furniture. Image by Hostel Celica
The wooden trunk in Cell 115 was the property of the designer's grandfather.
The wooden trunk in Cell 115 was the property of the designer’s grandfather. Image by Hostel Celica

The selection includes Cell 171, a room that features a wooden arch of burnt wood from a destroyed building in Metelkova, Cell 120, which is an experiment in how to divide a single space into different areas using a huge wooden cross that functions as a bed frame. The Hostel Celica also has a room that makes use of a former hole in the wall left over from a demolition attempt, transforming it into a bright corner window that floods the room with light.

Cell 102 is an example of Scandinavian design, with all of the furniture being fixed to the wall.
Cell 102 is an example of Scandinavian design, with all of the furniture being fixed to the wall. Image by Hostel Celica
The Oriental Cafe at Hostel Celica.
The Oriental Cafe at Hostel Celica. Image by Hostel Celica

The hostel has a Point of Peace room for travellers to relax and meditate as well as an art gallery that houses work of local and internationally renowned artists. It also has a Museum of Solitary Confinement that shows the former cells buried deep in the basement of the building. A modern café and restaurant that caters to groups is also available on site.

The Museum of Confinement offers guests the chance to take a look beneath the building at where unruly prisoners would have been kept.
The Museum of Confinement offers guests the chance to take a look beneath the building at where unruly prisoners would have been kept. Image by Hostel Celica
An archive picture of the hallway in the building when it was a prison.
An archive picture of the hallway in the building when it was a prison. Image by Hostel Celica
The Point of Peace at Hostel Celica offers guests the chance to relax and unwind in a calming environment.
The Point of Peace at Hostel Celica offers guests the chance to relax and unwind in a calming environment. Image by Hostel Celica

Prices vary according to season, with a lowest price of €18 and a highest price of €33 for a cell. More information is available on the Hostel Celica website.