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Saturday 5 July 2014

A chic boutique hotel in one of Europe's most beautiful capitals

Slovenia, often described as the sleeping beauty of Europe, is one of the hottest European destinations in 2014 and its capital of Ljubljana is a beautiful old city that, unlike Budapest and Prague, is not yet over-run by tourists. 

The funkiest base from which to explore Ljubljana is the Vander Urbani Resort, a Design Hotel ( with ultra-cool rooms and public areas in the heart of the old town, where many of the buildings date back several centuries. 
The Vander Urbani, part Australian owned, comprises just 16 rooms in four renovated old houses just under Castle Hill on the banks of the River Ljubljanica - in a pedestrian-only district dotted with cafes and eateries. 

The hotel entrance is tucked away down a quiet laneway.

There's a rooftop terrace with a tiny pool, a yoga studio and a 35-seater bar/restaurant serving breakfast, set lunches and a la carte dinners, featuring traditional Slovenian specialities like slovenski struklji, dumplings with asparagus, cottage cheese, chives and wild garlic (€15).

Other choices include fillet of sea bass with clams, wine sauce and celeriac puree (€21) or maybe for lighter eaters gnocchi with smoked duck breast and silverbeet (€10).  

The menus devised by French chef Benjamin Launay feature seasonal ingredients from the local market and surrounding farms - and the lower level wine cellar (guests are welcome to walk in and make their selection) features some intriguing wines from Slovenia (more than 170 labels) and bottles from France, Italy, New Zealand and the US. 

The eco-friendly hotel, which has been open less than two years and was the first Design Hotel in Slovenia, also offers a tasting menu of Slovenian wines with local snacks, which can be enjoyed in the restaurant, or al fresco in the lane. 

The rooms are in five different categories, ranging from 16-35 square metres (and cost from between €120-280 per night). Most can be configured as twins or doubles and all feature safes with laptop chargers, TVs with over 200 channels (including a couple of porn offerings, so those with children beware). 

Minibars, Molton Brown bathroom amenities and designer furniture pieces are standard and, as is the case virtually everywhere in Ljubljana, there is free wi-fi throughout the premises. The best rooms overlook the river and there are plans for 10 more to be added as part of an expansion.

On the top floor you'll find a Chill Out zone with a unique glass yoga box, and a tiny infinity swimming pool (7m x 2m) which overlooks the Ljubljanica River.

In the other direction there is a fantastic view of the Ljubljana Castle and there are dozens of excellent eateries and bars within a very short walk, with excellent wine bar Movia less than a block away. 

The staff here are young and funky but with a "can do" attitude and the fact the old city is pedestrian only means the area is quiet. The downside is that there is a walk of several hundred metres to your car (parking is a subsidised 20 a night), although the hotel can call one of the city's free urban golf buggies to transport you if you are weighed down by luggage.

Vander Urbani Resort, Krojaska ulica 6, 1000 Ljubljana. +386 1 200 9000. Bookings through 


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