In August 2009, our first Ljubljana apartment Ljubljana Gardens Studio apartment was ready to welcome its first guests. As I write this over a year later two things still surprise me...
The number of travelers from around the world who wish to stay in this cozy little place in the Old Town Ljubljana and the kind emails we receive from them about the time they have spent here.
Talking to our guests and hearing about their experiences has really helped us better understand their needs and expectations.
We have been able to add things in the apartment and improve the overall experience for future guests.
It also helped us get a better picture of what our second Ljubljana apartment should look like.
This time, I wanted to do something different -- a spacious, private, unique apartment on two floors… a place with modern features but with warm, authentic feel of a 19 century historic building...
This would be a four-star exquisite, almost luxurious Ljubljana apartment, but available at a very affordable price.
After months of planning, designing, renovating and furnishing -- and after much attention and care had been poured into the place -- the apartment was completed.
Will "Mini Duplex" apartment meet the expectations of vacation and business travelers in Ljubljana?
We were not quite sure. So I thought, why not take a few days off to try the apartment ourselves… and find out first hand. If at the end of our stay we could say that we are happy with the apartment, maybe our guests will be happy, too.
So we left our daughters in the safe and loving hands of their grandmother, packed our bags and headed for a mini vacation in the mini duplex apartment. This is a story about the weekend we spent in our one-bedroom Ljubljana apartment (the very same one we are offering for rent).
Our weekend mission had two goals. The primary goal was to do a "usability test" -- checking out how things work, whether anything is missing or if there's something we really could do without.
Finding out, not only how the apartment looks, but also how it feels to stay there, was part of this test as was thinking and discussing what works well and what could be improved.
And our second goal? Well, just have a good time, relax and enjoy Ljubljana, our favorite city in this part of the world.
So for two days (and nights) we became tourists in our home city. My husband picked me up after work on a warm and sunny Friday and we drove to Gradaska 8a Street in the historic old town Ljubljana where this Ljubljana Gardens apartment is located.
As you can see, we stopped the car right in front of the entrance to our apartment building (brown door behind the car).
Ljubljana is a popular place so parking in or near the city center is a problem… all year round, not just in the summer months.
Fortunately, parking is available very close to our apartment building. It's best to leave your car on Eipprova street (or the streets behind it). Parking is free of charge but please pay attention to the traffic signs. (Don't worry, we'll be happy to help when you arrive).
If you're arriving in Slovenia with a plane or train, a taxi or a shuttle van will literally take you to the doorstep of the apartment building. From there to settling comfortably in your apartment shouldn't take more than a minute...
This is the closest you can get by car to Ljubljana city center from this direction. A two or three minute walk and you'll find yourself in a traffic free zone. That's the "epicenter" of the Old Town Ljubljana. Another five or ten minutes and you'll be standing on Presern Square, the popular public place and meeting point in Ljubljana.
The short walk from Gradaska Street to Presern Square is the most pleasant and most romantic stroll anywhere in Ljubljana. (This is the opinion of many travelers and travel authorities, not just ours).
There is lovely Ljubljanica River on your right during your walk and a magnificent view of Ljubljana Castle as you cross pedestrian-only bridges and picture perfect historic buildings on both sides of the river.
Our Mini Duplex Ljubljana apartment truly has a splendid location. All of the must-see sights, places and events in the old town Ljubljana are virtually on apartment's doorstep. But I'm getting ahead of myself…
My dear husband picked up our bags from the car. We entered the apartment building and took the stairs to the second floor.
(The building has no elevator but you only need to climb two flights of stairs to get to the apartment.)
The stairs are wide and have a handrail
Greenery and flowers decorate the stairs
The hallways and stairs are well maintained and well lit with 8 automatic sensor lightson the way to the apartment.
In the apartment we were welcomed by Santa, our greeter and concierge.
She takes care of virtually everything. When you send us your inquiry or call us, Santa will be the one to speak with you, she will check availability and answer all questions you might have.
Santa often helps our guests plan their entire vacation in Slovenia.
What can take hours of searching on the Internet can sometimes be done in minutes with the right phone call.
She will be happy to recommend a taxi or a shuttle bus service, send you contact details of local rent-a-car companies and offer ideas for a trip to Lake Bled, Postojna caves and other must-see attractions in or around Ljubljana.
Santa is always wearing a big smile. She is a kind and helpful person. She will wait for you in our Mini Duplex Ljubljana apartment on the day of your arrival to welcome you, give you the keys and offer you a brief tour of the apartment.
One of the first things you'll receive from Santa after she welcomes you in your Ljubljana apartment is a map of the popular attractions in Ljubljana.
This old town Ljubljana map is something we created to help our guests have a good time in our city.
The 15 top Ljubljana attractions and 38 of our hand-picked restaurants are featured on the map. Each is within walking distance from the apartment.
Nothing is more than 20 minutes away. Really.
We've also included restaurants' opening hours and telephone numbers (which can be useful if there's a need for a quick inquiry or table reservation).
And we've added ratings -- our personal subjective opinion for each restaurant -- to help you choose the right place. One to four stars for the quality of food and service, location and atmosphere.
Opening Hours, Phone Numbers, Ratings
And because it's a good idea to know how much a dinner will cost before you visit a restaurant, we've organized them into price groups -- from one to four Euro (€) symbols… from very affordable restaurants to posh expensive ones. It's not a secret that places with high star value and low cost are our absolute favorites. ;-)
If you enjoy preparing your own meals or want to cut your Ljubljana food bill (or both!) you can stock up the fridge with fresh foods from supermarkets and prepare your meals in the apartment's kitchen.
There are 7 grocery stores in the vicinity of the apartment and there is, of course, the Ljubljana food market (more on this shortly). A small food store and a bakery are just around the corner from Mini Duplex Ljubljana apartment and they are both open every day until 9 pm – a real convenience for our guests.
If you don't feel like leaving the apartment, you can find phone numbers and web addresses of two delivery food services on the map -- a Chinese restaurant and a restaurant which delivers everything from pizza and pasta to steaks, burgers and salads.
What else is on the map? 13 cafe's and pubs, 4 pastry shops, 6 night clubs and casinos, a flea market, a post office, a pharmacy, 2 banks, 7 ATM's and a few other places, all within walking distance from the apartment. No need to get in the car or call a taxi.
This map is unlike any other Ljubljana map as it is tailor made for travelers staying in serviced Ljubljana apartments. It can easily be folded and put in your pocket.
After Santa gives out our Ljubljana map, she takes our newly arrived guests on a quick tour of the apartment, explaining how things work, answering their questions and listening to special requests.
I invite you to go on a short tour of the apartment with me.
Let's start with the…
As you can see living room is quite spacious and bright. A big glass door offers great views of Old Town Ljubljana and gardens and lets a lot of natural light into the apartment. The door also has pleated shades for privacy and comfort.
The comfortable sofa can turn into a double bed if more than two guests are staying in the apartment. This is a quality sofa bed with a soft and comfortable mattress.
The temperature in the apartment is always just right. There is an efficient air-conditioning system in the apartment. It operates in three modes -- cooling, ventilating and heating. (Of course, there's also a central heating for the cooler months.)
I don't think we'll watch TV this weekend but if we wanted to, we could have chosen from well over 100 TV channels, all major TV stations included. There's also an external CD/DVD unit for watching movies or listening to the music.
With a press of a button, the HD TV turns into a capable PC with a wide 24" screen and Windows 7 in English. You can surf the web using your favorite browser (Firefox, IE or Chrome), check your email, download your photos and videos, listen to iTunes, radio stations and more.
If you are traveling with a notebook or have a smartphone or PDA with you, don't worry about getting online. There is a Wi-Fi connection in the Mini Duplex Ljubljana apartment on both floors of the apartment. We'll give you an access code and you'll be connected in no time.
The well-equipped kitchen, all shiny and new, invited us to start preparing our dinner, but we had other plans. We made a reservation at "Pri Skofu", a popular restaurant just around the corner.
You see in Ljubljana, Saturday mornings are reserved for visiting the Ljubljana food market, buying fresh homegrown vegetables, organic meats and fish and cooking tasty meals for family and friends.
And Fridays? Well, they are Fridays just like everywhere else -- an evening to relax and unwind after a long and busy week.
We will cook tomorrow but tonight, we'll let one of the best chefs in Ljubljana prepare our dinner.
Pri Skofu (pronounced "pree-shkofoo" and translates into Bishop's in English) is a lovely little place known near and far for its hospitality, service and delicious food. You can read rave reviews about Skof in virtually every online or print Ljubljana travel guide.
There's really something special about this place. Here is what George, our guest from London wrote about Pri Skofu on our website…
"I woke up every morning feeling rejuvenated and ready for another power shower before breakfast. But you might just want to skip breakfast, because around the corner from the apartment is the finest restaurant that I've ever been to. Seriously. We ended up eating lunch and dinner at Pri Skofu three times on the spin. The food, wine, service and atmosphere were all perfect; the price pathetic…"
After a tasty meal we made a circle tour around old historic Ljubljana and returned to the apartment.
In the warmer months (April to October) it's nice to sit outside on the terrace and spend a lovely, quiet evening with a good book or enjoy a pleasant conversation with (or without) a drink in hand.
The terrace is private and offers wonderful views of Ljubljana gardens, Old Town Ljubljana rooftops and Ljubljana Castle.
After a long busy day there's nothing more enjoyable than stepping into a hot tub.
We turned on the in-floor heating as soon as we returned to the apartment so the terrazzo floor was already nice and warm.
Stepping out from the bath into a cold stone or tile would spoil the whole idea of taking a hot bath, right? ;-)
When traveling, we can't imagine staying in an apartment with no washing machine. With three children there are always loads of clothes to wash.
You'll find washing machine hidden in the "wall" under the roof window on the right side of the ladder radiator.
But it has no drying function. You can dry laundry on the drying rack or on the radiators in the months when they are warm (October to April).
Large roof windows offer magnificent views of Ljubljana Castle and the rooftops of Old Town Ljubljana. Panoramic windows open high and wide so you can virtually "step outside" and enjoy the sun, the air and the views.
Just in front of the bathroom door there is an additional sofa which converts into a large single or smaller double bed.
With sofa extended or not, the space beneath the roof windows can be an ideal reading nook. It's filled with sunlight and it's comfortable, cozy and quiet.
In the corner there is a shelf with a few popular fiction titles to choose from.
(Non-fiction books and guide books for Ljubljana, Slovenia and Central Europe can be found downstairs).
And then there is the master bedroom. It is completely open to the attic lounge and bathroom and, because it gets lots of light from two sides (shades and screens are on the windows), it lives quite spaciously.
The bedroom can be separated from the lounge with moveable frosted glass door panels ensuring privacy.
I like it up here. It's bright, quiet and cozy. If you feel like adding some music to the ambiance, there is a CD/MP3/Tuner system mounted on the wall by the bedside.
There are also a few CD's with some easy listening classical music on the shelf in case if you didn’t bring your own CD's. It's also easy to plug your MP3 player into the system -- just use the USB port on the panel or connect your MP3 device with a cable.
Nothing can create a more relaxed and romantic atmosphere in the bedroom (and bathroom) than some well-chosen music.
It wasn't very hot that weekend but even the hottest summer day in Ljubljana (it can get up to 35° C / 95° F) shouldn't disturb your night's sleep as there's an efficient and quiet best-in-class air-conditioning unit in the bedroom. It has a timer and other useful features.
There's just one more thing which can potentially take away some fun when staying in an apartment or hotel room in a big city. Street noise.
Outdoor concerts, street events, performances… there's always something going on in the old town Ljubljana. That's why we love it. But we also like to get a good night's rest.
Sure, it's nearly impossible to eliminate all the outside noise completely (and even if it was, it would feel quite awkward) but it makes sense to bring the "sounds of the city" down to a level where it’s not disturbing.
Sound-proof windows in the Mini duplex Ljubljana apartment do a terrific job. We had a good night's sleep and were ready for another exciting day…
It's Saturday morning. We woke up late relieved that we didn’t have to set an alarm clock today. A true Ljubljana vacation...
First, I opened the windows wide to let in fresh air from the green Ljubljana gardens...
It's a treat for the senses. Birds singing in a chorus, sweet fragrant scents of blooming flowers and trees in the air and magnificent views of high Alpine peaks rising behind the rooftops of the Old Town Ljubljana and the Castle hill (visible only on clear days).
I was looking forward to the idea of having breakfast on the terrace overlooking the gardens and Ljubljana Castle. My husband offered to prepare breakfast which made this sunny morning even nicer.
His specialty is eggs & mix sandwich, which is scrambled eggs with grilled ham, cheese and tomatoes placed between two browned whole wheat slices of bread (our kids prefer toast). The recipe also includes some herbs and spices but this apparently changes with the season. Freshly squeezed orange juice is an indispensible part of this "menu".
With our appetites satisfied for the few hours, we left the Mini duplex apartment and headed toward Ljubljana food market. This is a 10 to 15 minute easy walk along the most popular Ljubljana walking route.
Ljubljana market was already crowded with local residents, travelers and tourists (like us ;-) and also owners, chefs and purchasing staff from Ljubljana restaurants and smaller hotels.
Even if you don't intend to buy anything just walking around the Ljubljana market is fun and exciting.
You can watch the lively market beat, admire architect Plecnik's masterful architecture, take photos and treat yourself to some fresh strawberries, cherries or other delicious seasonal fruit.
Everything your heart (and your stomach) desires
There is an abundance of produce and crafts at the Ljubljana market. Everything you could possibly need for either a simple quick meal or an extravagant gourmet one.
From artichokes to zucchini, from avocados to watermelons, many varieties of mushrooms, meats, fish, cheeses, pastas, herbs, honey, fruits of all sorts and various craft items can be found at the market. All this to the tune of live Slovenian folk music and other public events.
And then there are flowers. A festival of color and fragrance. Roses for €5 for half dozen, tulips, daisies, lilies, gladioli, bouquets of fragrant spring or summer blooms...
Some prices are lower than local supermarket produce, especially vegetables and fruits. Some of the fruit was about the same price, but the quality was superior to that in the supermarket.
The smells, the sounds, the cheese tasting, the soap sniffing -- Ljubljana food market is an experience not to be missed.
Some days we get too hungry and can't wait to get home and eat.
It's a challenge to pass dozen restaurants on the way home without giving in to one of their tempting offers...
Today we made it. It will be fish with vegetables and fresh salad for lunch.
Tomorrow our mini Ljubljana vacation will be over. In the morning we will pack our bags and return home.
What can we say at the end?
Well, we found out that some apps were missing on the computer and that we need to add a bottle opener and a few other things which should be found in the kitchen drawers.
But aside from that, we didn't really miss anything.
The kitchen is the focal point in the apartmentwhere cooking becomes a social thing
Since I designed the place and now "tested" every aspect of it you may be curious to know what I think of the apartment?
Hmm... I think that while the Mini Duplex apartment with its 55 m2 (600 sq.ft.) can comfortably sleep five people and it can be great for a bigger family or a group of friends, this one-bedroom Ljubljana apartment is really perfect for just two.