Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Grand Hotel Union – A really “Grand” experience

A good friend of mine once told me that she followed the advice of her dad and spent the night in a hotel in her own city. Being a tourist in your hometown can open up so many new possibilities to discover it over and over again. The idea of “staycation” has been on my list for a while. I primarily meant it for Paris, which I like to call my home. However, a perfect opportunity for this opened up during my quick break in Slovenia.

One of the highlights from the last trip to Slovenia was definitely our stay at the Grand Hotel Union. Amazingly located in the mere city center of Ljubljana, only a few steps away from Prešeren Square and the beautiful Triple Bridge, it offers the perfect immersion into the life of a city center local.

Opening the window in the morning, overlooking the Miklošičeva Street, took my breath away. Seeing people heading to the local market, friends meeting for a morning coffee and cyclists riding their bikes around makes you feel something very unique. You just want to run outside and be part of this pleasant hustle and bustle of this lovely city.

But then you turn around and never want to leave the hotel again. This high-end hotel offers simply but beautifully furnished rooms with an amazing attention to details. To mention just two of those – on the table awaits a beautiful package of the superior blend of coffee “Cankar’s Cup of Coffee” (Ivan Cankar, the greatest Slovene writer, was a frequent visitor of the Grand Hotel Union Cafe); the personal care amenities in the bathroom offer a hint of fun with amusing personalized titles. Such details make you feel more at home and less at “just another hotel”.

When the hotel has already won you over with everything of the above, it takes it all to a whole new level with food. Breakfast or lunch there is not just a meal, it is an experience. The hotel makes sure that it is easy for anyone to indulge in the Slovene culinary world while keeping all of the essential international meals. Lunch is served at the garden restaurant Unionski vrt in a pleasant shade of chestnut trees. Could you even ask for more?

Our flight back to Paris was just two hours after our lunch there so we didn’t have the time to enjoy any of their delicious deserts. We’ve heard the cakes are heavenly good at the Café. We know where to go first when we arrive to Ljubljana again!

Grand Hotel Union
Address: Miklošičeva cesta 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Webpage: http://www.union-hotels.eu/

Monday, September 12, 2016

Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa, a boutique hotel in the centre of Ljubljana

If you’ve had some time to discover Ljubljana and its architecture, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of buildings in the old town hide a beautiful courtyard. One of my favourite examples of this is the beautiful building of the Town Hall. If you’ve ever wondered how it was to live in one of those stunning buildings, you should check out the Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa and stay there during your visit in Ljubljana.

This luxury hotel is located in the mere city centre just a step away from the National library and the Novi trg. But what is even more – it is located in a beautiful 16th century palatial city residence that was originally built for nobility. When you enter the building, you enter a whole new world. My favourite part of the hotel is the beautiful inner courtyard. It is so peaceful and makes it a perfect spot for a morning coffee.

This hotel is a boutique hotel with only 18 spacious suites and boutique rooms. Everything there seems to be individually designed and unique for your stay to be as beautiful as possible. The blend of preserved old in a modern context is just stunning. The rooms are full of protected architectural heritage landmarks such as frescoes and architectural details. This all makes it easy to pretend to live in the 16th century’s Ljubljana! Breakfast is as beautiful as everything else in this small luxury hotel, offering champagne and perfectly made coffee among others.

We were staying in a bright spacious suite with high ceilings and an amazing view on the Ljubljana castle. There is this special room in the hotel that showcases all the famous people who stayed at this hotel at some point. It is an interesting way to honor the special place and all the people who have shaped it throughout the past. Last but not least, the staff is extremely nice. They are ready to help you with any question you might have, they offer a great variety of recommendations regarding the landmarks, restaurants and trips. If you are longing for a calm stay in the centre of Ljubljana in a boutique hotel, do give Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa a go, you won't regret it.

Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa
Address: Gosposka ulica 10, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Webpage: http://www.antiqpalace.com/

Romantic traditional Slovenian restaurant close to Bled

If you've ever googled Slovenia, you've come across the photos of a beautiful small island in the middle of the lake with the stunning Alps in the background and the castle on a cliff, overlooking this beauty. This romantic place is called Bled. It is a must for anyone who visits Slovenia. Some people even prioritize Bled to Ljubljana, so special this place is. You can read more about here, but now I'd rather tell you about this amazing restaurant just a few kilometers away from this place, which makes it a perfect place for lunch or dinner on the way to or from Bled.

Indulging in delicious food at Lectar is an experience that is not to be missed. Put in a traditional Slovenian family house, it makes it a special environment for lunch or dinner, offering a special interior of a traditional Slovenian house from the region, with the stunning view over the Alps in the background, surrounded by the nature.

Before you even have a look at the menu, you realize that this restaurant doesn't only offer traditional Slovenian dishes but also a special environment that unveils to you the way Slovenian people lived their every day lives. The decoration in the restaurant makes this so beautifully and subtly it is almost hard to spot all the details they put attention to. It goes from the table decoration to the old skis that are hung up on the walls. Their pots, kitchen materials and all the little objects give a romantic atmosphere to this restaurant with a lot of tradition.

The choice of food is very rich and goes from the traditional Slovenian dishes to more "ordinary" choices. Apart from good food, a wide selection of premium Slovenian wines offers you a perfect opportunity to try some of those yourself. We started with some delicious mash room and pumpkin soups and then tried a variety of Slovenian typical dishes. We chose meat and fish dishes, blended with hard-boiled buckwheat flour mush (žganci), sauerkraut and delicious rolled dumplings (štruklji), my favorite.

A plus to this great place? Their beautiful Gingerbread Museum! This restaurant has a functioning workshop where products of an old Slovenian craft called »lectarija« are produced. The workshop also functions as a Gingerbread Museum, where visitors can see the process of lect making in person. It is an old tradition that started with a honey-bread bakery and a chandlery in 1766. This is also how the restaurant got its name, Lectar, and the house its symbol – a left heart. The girls in the museum told us a lot of interesting stories related to this tradition and we left with some ginger hearts that will make a beautiful decoration in our apartment.

Address: Linhartov trg 2, 4240 Radovljica
Webpage: http://www.lectar.com/

Friday, September 2, 2016

A taste of Pannonia in the city centre of Ljubljana

You probably know how diverse Slovenia is. It’s almost a miracle how much diversity is put together on such a small peace of land. From the beautiful underground Karst world, the seaside, the mountains and lakes to the vineyards, plain and lowland in the eastern part. Not only those areas differ from each other in terms of nature. The dialect spoken close to the Italian border has nothing to do with the one spoken near the Hungarian border. The cuisine, the dances, the culture and heritage change a lot from one part of Slovenia to another. When you visit the country, though, you often don’t have the time to just see and experience it all. Tourists therefore prioritize and go to the must-visit parts of the country, where some others are left undiscovered. The undiscovered part is often the northeast of the country. What if I told you that you could have a piece of it in the mere city centre of Ljubljana? Keep reading.

I often say that food is an essential part of traveling. Getting to know the culinary habits of the people is getting to know a part of them. If you’d like to try specialties from the Pannonia region (northeast of Slovenia) without needing to actually go there, you should go to the restaurant Güjžina and indulge into their delicious dishes and wines.

The owner is a very nice lady, coming from the region herself. She strives for perfection, great food and equally great service. A lot of their dishes are very specific to the region and often unknown to the visitors. The help with the choice is therefore very appreciated. The staff of Güjžina is more than happy to help, explain and let you taste their delicious dishes. The selection is very wide, for the vegetarians as well as those who cannot go without meat. A big plus is a great selection of wines from the whole Pannonia region.

We were sitting outside in the nice shade on one of the main streets of the Old Town, observing the people passing by while enjoying our lunch. The interior, however, seems very nice as well, spacious and pleasant, with a beautiful wine cellar for closed groups.

We hit off the lunch with goat cheese with pumpkin seed oil on a wooden plate.

We then chose to try out different dishes and enjoy a variety of tastes. Dödöle, a typical dish from the region, is a must there. They may taste a bit unusual but it’s worth the try.

Their “Cucki”, homemade gnocchi with pumpkin seed pesto and goat cheese are super delicious!

The Prekmurje Bograč (a delicious mixture of pork, beef, venison, potatoes, onion and garlic) can be a great option for meat lovers. There is plenty of choice of meat dishes too, combined with interesting food like plums. Salads are very tasty as well, and the choice is very vast.

You absolutely have to try Prekmurska gibanica there, a traditional sweet dish from eastern Slovenia. It is one of the most representative sweet dishes from Slovenia that comes in a form of a layered cake with poppy seeds, walnuts, cottage cheese and apples. Heaven! Same as other awesome deserts, of course.

Güjžina - The soul of Pannonia Restaurant in Ljubljana
Address: Mestni trg 19, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Webpage: http://www.prekmurska-gostilna.si/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Gujzina.Restaurant.Ljubljana/