HISTORIC TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Gostilna Repnik, Kamnik
Two kilometres outside the medieval town of Kamnik, just north of Ljubljana, this gostilna (inn) has nine beautiful rooms, finished in natural wood and raw concrete. The rooms extend a playful nod to Slovenia’s natural and man-made heritage, so feature, for example, a log-built headboard or a mini climbing wall. The restaurant – whose chef, Primož, is also the owner – is a similarly classy affair, aping a hunter’s lodge and serving dishes such as pepper-encrusted tenderloin medallions. There are extensive gardens and orchards, alongside stables where kids can ride ponies. Should you be inclined to venture beyond the inn, there are easy strolls around Kamnik. For something more energetic, head for the high plateau (up to 1,666 metres) of Velika Planina – 5km up the Kamniška Bistrica Valley and then a five-minute whizz in a cable car – where the broad pastures are spotted with shepherds’ huts.
• Doubles from €75 BB, +386 5130 0357, gostilna-repnik.si
Majerija guesthouse, Slap
The pretty, stone-built village of Slap, some 35km from the Italian border, is home to this subterranean guesthouse with 10 bedrooms under extensive gardens, each one named after a herb (for example basil and lavender) and painted in lime green, buttercup yellow and lilac. They are refreshingly clutter-free, with little by way of cupboards or chairs (hangers are provided), and no TVs (there’s Wi-Fi and mobile reception, though). Skylights ensure you’re not starved of natural light, and the temperature is a constant 17C. Breakfast, taken above ground, includes freshly picked fruit and veg from the garden, and homemade breads, jams and cheeses.
• Doubles from €96, breakfast €10pp, +386 5368 5010, majerija.si
In Slovenia’s oldest and prettiest town, in the country’s little-visited eastern region, this happy-go-lucky bed and breakfast has seven rooms painted in bold colours. Among the odd, spotty-painted cupboard or brightly patterned bedspread, there are custom-made upholstered chairs, as well as miniature radios and table games. Muzikafe is also Ptuj’s cultural hub: its suntrap terrace and retro-styled lounge are both perfect for a mid-morning coffee or an early evening beer, and its handsome brick-vaulted cellar hosts art exhibitions, literary evenings and concerts by some of the country’s most talented musicians. This place will charm your socks off, as will the town itself.
• BB doubles from €52, +386 2787 8860, muzikafe.si
EcoHotel Koroš, Jamnica, Koroška
Northern Slovenia is rarely visited, which is a shame as these largely unknown mountain wilds have some truly memorable scenery, in particular forested valleys scattered with remote farmsteads. One such tourist farm is Koroš, Slovenia’s first dedicated bike hotel, which has been welcoming cyclists for more than 20 years. Accommodation is in 10 simple rooms, each with superlative mountain views. Bike tours (from €30) are offered as a matter of course, on the farm’s single trail park and on numerous tracks of varying difficulty throughout the mountains. Guests refuel on superb home-cooked food like jota (bean and sauerkraut soup), with ingredients from the garden. Bike hire is €25 a day.
• BB doubles from €60, +386 2870 3060, bikenomad.com
Green Village Ruševec, Pohorje
This small eco village of five log cabins sits among lush pine forests on the slopes of Pohorje, 15km from Maribor, Slovenia’s second city. Constructed from local spruce timber and insulated with wool, each sleeps four – two downstairs and two upstairs. Among the many sustainable initiatives are renewable energy sources, rainwater collection, a permaculture garden, and a small apiary. The neighbouring slopes offer some of Slovenia’s best skiing, and in summer there are superb hikes in the immediate surrounds.
• Self-catering lodges from €120, +386 2603 6300, rusevec.com
Ročnjek Homestead, Gorjuše
In the isolated hamlet of Gorjuše, high above Lake Bohinj on the edge of the thickly forested Pokljuka plateau, this inviting homestead offers six rooms-cum-apartments, each named for a local trade, such as kmecki (farmer) and tesarski (carpenter). Sleeping between two and six, they are furnished in natural woods, with ornamental carved and hand-painted beds, traditional fireplaces and kitchens. Jaka, the owner, encourages guests – and especially children – to participate in whatever farming activities may be going on, be it grass cutting, haymaking or preparing birch bundles. He’s also an accomplished cook, and, for a little extra (€15), will dish up a platter of cold cut trout followed by grilled lamb chops before you retire to your lodging.
• Doubles from €70, breakfast €11pp, +386 5161 6450, rocnjek.kelih.com
Hostel Pliskovica, Dutovlje
Pliskovica’s main building – a 400-year-old barn that’s a protected cultural monument – is in classic Karst style, with white stone walls, slate roof, and a flower-decked veranda running its entire length. The six dorms come in a range of sizes, from four to 14 beds, all with shared facilities, and there’s a communal kitchen. The pretty, tree-filled patio invites guests to kick back with a glass of aromatic teran wine, which complements perfectly the local air-dried pršut ham. There are also camping pitches.
• Dorm beds from €16, camping €10, +386 5764 0250, hostelkras.com
Camping Lijak, Ozeljan, Vipava Valley
Under the formidable Nanos plateau in the Vipava Valley, this campsite offers 10 underground wooden bunker rooms (Hobbit holes) with nothing more than a bed (with sheets and a duvet) and an electric light, that can just sleep two, if they’re very good friends. Although there are no dining or cooking facilities on site, there is relative comfort in the shape of a modern shower block, with separate sections for men and women, laundry facilities, a pool and a play area. Lijak is especially popular with paragliders lured here by the bora, a merciless northeasterly wind.
• Hobbit holes €18 a night, +386 5308 8557, camplijak.com
LAKES AND RIVERS
Adrenaline Check Eco Camp, Bovec, Soča Valley
A wreath of jagged grey peaks towering over a milky blue river provides the backdrop for this eco-adventure resort. If you don’t fancy slumming it under canvas, the site offers cosy lean-tos (a tent enclosed in a wooden structure) with a deluxe version enhanced with wooden tables and chairs, a terrace and hammock. The many thrilling pursuits on offer take place mostly on the Soča river; rafting is the default activity, but there’s also canyoning or hydrospeed. A good local company is Bovec Rafting Team.
• Lean-tos from €50, +386 4138 3662, adrenaline-check.com
Park Idila, Lake Bloke
Among southern Slovenia’s myriad beautiful lakes – the most famous of which is the disappearing Cerknica Lake, so called because the waters intermittently drain into subterranean reservoirs – is the chummy sounding Lake Bloke and this rather fine campsite. It also has six basically furnished but snug wooden cabins sleeping two or three. There are activities aplenty, not least swimming in the lake and hiking. This is brown bear country, so if you fancy a chance encounter with one of these magnificent beasts – though not too close, obviously – guided brown bear-watching tours are available through organisations, including the Mlakar Inn (slovenianbears.com).
• Cabins from €36, +386 4184 7821, blosko-jezero.si/park-idila