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Hotel Center - Not a 'hotel' but it's in the centre
Hotel Center (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Hotel Center (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Advantages: Good location; near public transport; clean and comfortable; free wi-fi
Disadvantages: Not 24 hour reception; some may find it noisy
Between me and Himself we have stayed in a total of ten different places - rental apartments, hostels and hotels in Ljubljana. When we first started visiting in 2004 there wasn't very much at the cheaper end of the market but now the Euro40 - 50 section of the market is pretty healthy and while this won't buy luxury, it will generally get you a good location somewhere clean and comfortable.
Needing a room for one Saturday night in January 2012 we booked at Hotel Center, a two star place which, as the name suggests, has the advantage of a central location. We booked through Expedia (taking advantage of an attractive rate of cash-back through www.topcashback.co.uk) which gained us 200 lovely Nectar points.
While this method had financial advantages it also had some drawbacks. We knew the location of the hotel having walked past on numerous occasions so we were aware that it is above a café-bar. However we would have assumed that it would have closed, like most such establishments that have residential accommodation on the floors above, around 10.00pm, or 10.30pm at the latest. If you booked through Expedia and didn't do any additional research you wouldn't know this.
The other thing we knew was that Hotel Center does not have a 24 hour reception and that you have to check in downstairs in the café when reception is not staffed. We'd made the booking a while back and had mentioned it to a friend who lives in Ljubljana and knows a lot about what goes on. She told us that the guy who runs it also has the café and that although it's called "Hotel Center" it's really a hostel; she was right on the first count, wrong on the second.
The booking confirmation gave a telephone number for the hotel. I'd fully intended ringing the hotel on Thursday or Friday to tell them our arrival time in Ljubljana on Saturday but then it slipped my mind. On the way down to the capital we tried and tried to get through but there was no response. When we arrived at the hotel a notice on the locked door directed us to a shoe shop on the main street where the manager knew of our reservation and telephoned the owner. The shop manager then took us to the hotel and checked us in. She had been told that we were to have room 2 but when she opened the door she found the room hadn't been made ready for us, so after another call she gave us room 4. We'd reserved the room by credit card but paid in cash at the hotel.
Hotel Center occupies part of the first floor of a typical Ljubljana apartment building. Entry is via a passageway from the main street Slovenska Cesta and the entrance to Companeros Café is in the passageway. When the café is open you can ask the staff to let you go into the hotel through the café, however the café was not open all the time we were there even though a notice on the door said it was due to be open from 9.00pm until 5.00am.
There are only a handful of rooms off the reception area; this is essentially a very large apartment that has been divided into smaller rooms. Although it was by no means large, our room was sufficiently spacious to permit normal walking around and there was lots of storage space. The unlined curtains looked as they might be useless but they turned out to be rather good at keeping out the light, permitting a reasonable lie in on Sunday morning.
The rooms are rather basic although the furniture is good quality and we both thought the bed was comfortable. The property has lovely high ceilings but the small rooms combined with the very simple décor make the ceilings seem oppressively high; if the rooms were bigger and the décor more elegant, this property could look very grand and stylish.
The rooms all front onto the main street and Slovenska Cesta is essentially the main traffic street cutting through the city centre. However, if you are staying on a weekend you'll find that it's very quiet. Shops in the city centre close at lunchtime on Saturday (except for very touristy shops by the river) and don't open again until Monday morning. Usually the street is full of traffic but at weekends there are just a handful of buses and almost no cars. Although some cafes and restaurants in this newer part of the centre don't open at the weekend there are a few open in this area and you are only two minutes walk away from the more lively areas and the Old Town. The train and bus stations are five minutes walk away and you're also in a good location here for Trg Republiky and its major concert venue the Cankarev dom. Tivoli Park and Roznik Hill (and also the Tivoli Hala concert venue), the green lungs of the city, are five minutes walk away.
It is a worrying sign when a hotel gives complimentary ear plugs but if you're really, really sensitive to noise this may not be the place for you. If the bar downstairs is really noisy I can't see how ear plugs are going to help. My suggestion would be to contact the hotel directly to find out whether the bar will be open when you want to stay as there is no indication as to why it did not open when we were there.
All rooms come with en suite bathrooms as standard. Ours appeared to have been recently installed. The under-floor heating was particularly appreciated in January though we had no complaints at all regarding the temperature in our room.
The hotel offers free wi-fi throughout and if you haven't brought your own device there is a PC with internet access on the reception desk that guests may use. There is also a telephone that can receive incoming calls and which allows you to make calls free of charge to other landlines in Slovenia. Useful numbers are listed (taxi companies, etc) beside the telephone for those occasions when reception is unstaffed and numbers are provided should you need to contact a member of staff.
When we got back to the hotel late-ish on Saturday night there was a young man rooting around in a cupboard in the reception area. He said hello and asked if everything was alright but when we left the hotel the next morning leaving the keys on the reception desk there was nobody around. A notice said that the hotel is staffed between 8.00am and 4.00pm but that does not appear to be the case on Saturdays and Sundays. As there was nobody to ask and we couldn't risk not getting our stuff back, we had to take our luggage to the station and leave it there until it was time to go to the airport.
We were happy enough with our experience at Hotel Center but we are Ljubljana old timers and very independent travellers. If you like more facilities or want help on hand, perhaps for suggestions for restaurants or tips on getting around, this probably isn't your kind of accommodation. Although it's not off the beaten track, this hotel is really best suited for people who've visited before. Although it's perhaps a tad overpriced (I'd say that Euro45 in the low season would be fairer) the slightly higher price may have the effect of putting off noisy groups of rowdy visitors (not that Ljubljana gets many of them anyway). Prices rise to Euro60 in the mid season (roughly April to the end of June) and Euro66 a night for a double between July and September. (Correct in 2012)
When we got back to the UK there was a telephone message from the hotel asking about our arrival time but they had called the day before we were due to stay there. I should really have also given a Slovenian mobile number but hadn't thought of that when making the reservation. If you do plan to stay in this hotel, let the staff know in advance what time you'll be arriving; it will make your stay so much easier.
Summary: More 'rooms' than a hotel but cheap and central
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