Where to? | Central Hotel Ljubljana
It was the first time I’d been to Slovenia, and hence it was the first time I’d been to Ljubljana; the quaint capital city that is more a village in feel — and I mean that as a compliment. The friendly people with warm smiles, coupled with the small size of the city centre make for an environment that is both welcoming and genuinely accessible.
A five minute walk away from Prešeren Square (the unofficial meeting point in Ljubljana city centre) a hotel has undergone a renovation — visually and in concept — to cater for a new type of traveller, one that is both entrepreneur and explorer.
This venue residence is aptly called Central Hotel, the newest (re)opening for the Union Hotel group.
The hotel rooms themselves feature a modern, minimal design, built to be an environmentally friendly eco-system for a new breed of social entrepreneur or weekend escapologist; a term I’ve coined for the micro-holiday experts. On each stay at Hotel Central you are rewarded with a travel eco coffee cup and portable water bottle, which guests can refill with complimentary coffee and water available on the hotel’s 7th floor.
This design language is not one uncommon across the Capital cities of Europe, however it’s only when you explore Ljubljana, look at the other Hotels in the Union Hotels portfolio that you realise what a massive deviation from the “norm” the Hotel Central actually is; it’s not just a newly kitted out establishment, it’s an indicator of cultural progression.
“With the Central Hotel’s new concept, we created a completely new tourist experience in Ljubljana. It is designed as the first hotel for the new generation of tourists, travellers and so-called “hipsters”, who are looking for a relaxed, authentic, urban and social accommodation, without the formalities of conventional hotels, “~ Matej Rigelnik, CEO, Union Hotels
“Hipster” is a term they use, but I think to say that actually detracts from the essence of what they’ve created, the depth of which transcends beyond the scope of a lifestyle trend. At the heart of this concept is Rooftop@Central, an open-plan area for hotel residents and guests alike to meet, socialise, use as a workspace or simply to take in the city views.
On the terrace wall is a graffitied mural of a frog biting a dragon, an ode to two iconic characters of the region; the Dragon being a legendary symbol of Ljubljana, and the Frog — an affectionate term used to describe the locals on account of their accent when they speak.
The Rooftop@Central is located on the 7th Floor, which is also the location for the topiary roofed reception – if you actually need to use the reception that is. They’ve designed the whole check-in process so it can be completed entirely by using their Hotel Central app, and it even includes your room key. Yes you read that right, once checked-in you can use your phone to open your room, simply touch your phone against a sensor by your room to open the door, much like you would when using Apple Pay.
The innovations don’t stop there, the Hotel Central is the first in Slovenia — and the first I’ve seen — to take advantage of using sleeping capsules, enabling single travellers to spend the night in Space-age pods for only €40.
These tech-friendly pods have their own wi-fi hotspots, a safe, USB charging points and even their own television.
I’ve been reliably informed that these pods are substantially larger than their Japanese counterparts, and at 6’2” I had no struggle to fit. In fact I found the spacing, surprisingly, very ample.
Although seemingly built on the “millennial” template, Hotel Central has more depth than that. A depth I experienced one night, while enjoying a whisky night-cap on the Rooftop, following a surprisingly affordable steak dinner in central Ljubljana. While on the terrace I was joined by a elder Irish man, who I later found out was in his 70’s and flew in from Toulouse where he currently resides.
We began by talking about what brought us to Slovenia, and on learning my vocation he proceeded to tell me a tale about his newly divorced ex-wife, and a book she had written called “Mabel Babble”; a cathartic view of their time together through the eyes of their favourite dog. “It’s sold over 700 copies on Amazon,” he proudly tells me, and it soon becomes clear that he and his ex-wife are still very close. Soon I not only had a copy of said book in hand, but another night-cap as he implored me to read a few chapters, while he proudly watched on. I’m glad I humoured him, as the book was, put simply, beauty cured in words; an emotional insight into the person standing beside me and a life I never knew. Eventually, a few chapters later, we parted ways, said our farewells and with my horizons broadened, I went to bed.
The reason for this story? Well, to illustrate that modernity was not the only thing achieved by Hotel Central, but also retention of the classic values of what hotels are and always have been; a crossroad where strangers from all walks of life meet, connect, exchange stories and as a result leave not only physically renewed, but mentally rejuvenated.
You don’t have to take my word for it; relinquish your role of arm-chair traveller, jump on a plane to Ljubljana and experience the Hotel Central for yourself.