This blog post reviews many(but far from all) of Lake Bohinj’s accommodation options in what has become a shrinking marketplace due to the demise of many of its mainstay operators. My overall rating(out of ten) is born from part experience and the location, tariff and facilities relevant to each property. Being purely subjective, I have endeavoured to balance each review with positives to counteract any perceived negatives although I am aware nowhere can please all of the people all of the time. Crucially, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from staying in any of these establishments, except of course the ones that have already closed! Any constructive comments are of course welcome; all of below has been written in good faith but I will gladly rectify any factual errors.
Hotel Kristal www.hotel-kristal-slovenia.com/
Very well regarded and much needed tourist accommodation situated on the outskirts of Ribcev Laz, less than ten minutes from Lake Bohinj and Mercator supermarket, Post and Tourist Offices. Rooms overlooking the hotel’s private garden will particularly delight birdwatchers although roadside rooms can be noisy, especially during hot weather when temperatures demand open windows and balcony doors. Motorcyclists are also welcome at the Kristal, a demographic that will equally deter and encourage potential guests. A downside to its peripheral location is the lack of a footpath abutting the busy road, although I believe there is an alternative track through Ribcev Laz’s residential area, bringing pedestrians out near Center Bohinj Pizzeria. The Wellness packages on offer are a real departure for Slovenia, being more akin to an Austrian resort.
Overall rating: 8/10
Pension Gasperin www.gasperin-bohinj.com/
Situated on the other side of the road from the Kristal but slightly nearer to Lake Bohinj and the practicalities afforded by Ribcev Laz, the Gasperin has significantly grown in size since I stayed in 2006. Guests have a choice between rooms on a Bed and Breakfast basis and self catered apartments, both necessitating that alternative arrangements be made for sourced evening meals, assuming you don’t want to spend your whole holiday cooking. The rooms are spotless and well appointed; the owner is very helpful in extolling the many natural virtues the area has to offer and is assisted by his English wife, a former Thomson Lakes and Mountains rep for the resort. I have met friendlier people than her but my stay was many years ago, which doesn’t allow me to be overly critical when viewing in isolation a seven night stay. The breakfasts were outstanding.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Pension Rozic www.pensionrozic-bohinj.com/
My first stay was in 1999 – the third and so far final visit came in the autumn of 2010. In that time very little seemed to have changed; what at first appeared to be a rustic, cozy pension heavily dominated by wood and mounted animal heads had become weary and slightly out of date. The price though was right and evening meals could be purchased at both the Rozic’s pizzeria and adjacent restaurant, which served a fine “tourist menu” for €10. The Pension had perhaps suffered from a lack of inward investment by driving prices down – the mold in the shower was substantial – but rooms were otherwise clean and serviceable. Breakfasts were the usual European fayre but plentiful and fresh. Owners Boris and Jana know the area exceptionally well, offering guests the chance to indulge in fishing and extreme sports. A no frills establishment but exceptionally well placed, further on still from the Gasperin but slightly set back from the approach road to Ribcev Laz, the famous stone bridge adjacent to St. John the Baptist Church being but a five minute walk away.
Overall rating: 6.5/10
Hotel Bohinj www.hotel-bohinj.com/
The former Hotel Kompas has recently found itself in the news for the wrong reasons, having filed for bankruptcy in the Kranj District Court. Forming part of the Zmago Pacnik empire the Hotel Bohinj has perhaps traded on its advantageous location but a stone’s throw from Lake Bohinj whilst neglecting some of the basics that travellers expect as standard. Rumours of bussed in evening meals did nothing to enhance the reputation of an establishment encumbered by being dropped by British tour operators and idiosyncratic staff, as well its very fabric starting to show wear and tear commensurate with a lack of inward investment(rinse and repeat the hotels Zlatorog and Bellevue – more about them to come). Its current trading status is as unknown as its future would seem to be bleak, unless new ownership or a change of financial heart from Mr. Pacnik is forthcoming.
Overall rating: n/a
Hotel Jezero www.hotel-jezero.si/
Many guests question the Jezero’s four star accreditation and it is true that it doesn’t correspond to a similarly rated hotel in the Austrian Tyrol. This however is the grading by Slovenian standards and I would therefore say it is correct, rather than comparing it to a subjective international scale. My two stays in the Jezero, so named as Hotel Lake by its extremely close proximity to Lake Bohinj, have both been without incident or problem. My latest visit in 2013 found the renovated and extended hotel to be scrupulously clean and professionally staffed by many familiar faces from over ten years before. All staff were immaculately attired and proved to be unfailingly helpful. The standard menu, in effect a tourist menu but of a higher standard than for instance the Rozic afforded a large choice and without exception on a buffet, help yourself basis. This allowed the vegetarians amongst us to concoct some interesting, quirky combinations but in many ways suited non-meat eaters better than a token, unimaginative dish from a set menu. The selection of salad and garnishes was outstanding. Drinks, both soft and Tuborg beer were on tap to again help yourself to and were included in the hotel’s standard meal package. A la carte meals could instead be ordered and were taken in a different restaurant which offered a wide choice of both local and international wines. A moderately sized swimming pool and fitness centre brings the Jezero up to a four star Slovenian standard hotel; the outdoor terrace at the hotel’s front serves appealing cakes and welcoming hot and cold drinks – again by very friendly staff.
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Sitting on a plateau 800 metres along a road running alongside the Jezero, the enigmatic Bellevue should have everything going for it. Being fortunate to have a room with a lake view, I was astonished by the solitude and peace to be found amongst the dense forest only a few minutes away from the comparatively bustling Ribcev Laz. Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain that tops out at nearly 9400 feet was also visible, its three-headed appearance feeling almost within touching distance. A hotel visited – to say frequented would be somewhat misleading – by Agatha Christie should have been able to trade on its location, views and history to maintain a healthy trade throughout the year. Sadly, I believe the Bellevue became part of Zmago Pacnik’s portfolio and gradually suffered from poor staff levels, crumbling infrastructure and declining culinary standards after became a prime asset to be sweated whilst the sun shone. It wasn’t long though before the storm clouds gathered on the horizon, resulting in the iconic Bellevue now being shut and looted by metal and copper-wire seeking thieves. Its ownership structure became somewhat labyrinthine but I believe it somehow became embroiled in the bankruptcy of luxury yacht manufacturer Seaway, the hotel presumably making up part of the company’s unrelated-business portfolio. The Bellevue’s current status and future and both unknown, other than to say it and its depandansa are both categorically shut.
Overall rating: n/a
Hostel Pod Voglom www.hostel-podvoglom.com/en
A vastly different proposition to the previously reviewed establishments. the Pod Voglom’s(Under Vogel) ethos is predicated on being a low-cost base for younger generations to indulge in the area’s many extreme sports possibilities. For those wishing to take advantage of its incredible location a third the way along the southern side of Lake Bohinj between Ribcev Laz and Ukanc but who are not Adrenalin junkies, the Pod Voglom is a great starting point for private boat trips on the lake and its close proximity to many secluded lakeside bathing areas. Rooms are basic but clean and are perhaps more suited to school parties but as a budget option there are plenty of reasons to stay. Should you wish to dine out Ribcev Laz is only a fifteen minute walk although a taxi back might be advisable after dark, if only to ensure inebriated holidaymakers don’t get lost or end up in the lake.
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Along with the Bellevue the famous ‘Zlat’ is a stain on the good Bohinj name – its dereliction in such a public area of the Triglav National Park(TNP) reflects how the almighty TNP has very few unilateral teeth to bare. Once patronised by Yugoslav statesmen and global heads of state, the Zlatorog has gone the same way under the ‘guiding’ hand of a certain Mr. Pacnik(do you see a pattern emerging?), its previously celebrated position as a mainstay in Bohinj society and the Yugoslav/Slovenian tourism pantheon being mercilessly exploited much in the same way as the Bellevue – until the pips squeaked. Now a picture of dereliction after years of mismanagement and tourism revenue being siphoned off without making its way back to where it was originally generated, the Zlatorog has also been stripped bare of anything of value, it and its creepy depandansa(annex) standing eerily silent like houses of horror whilst tourists pass by on their way to the Savica waterfall or en route to the Seven Lakes trek. Stories abounded in 2015 of a rescue package being put together by the custodians of the Ski Hotel Vogel that would see the Zlat brought back into operation, whilst a peppercorn rent was paid to its absentee owner. With a swimming pool rendered unusable by its collapsed roof that was brought down in 2014 by heavy snowfall, it will be a long journey to bring this fallen giant back onto its feet.
Overall rating: n/a
Vila Park Bed and Breakfast www.vila-park.si/
Positioned at the quieter western end of Lake Bohinj in the hamlet of Ukanc, the Vila Park’s eight bedroom boutique-style residence offers something slightly different to its competitors. Being somewhat hamstrung by limiting guests to staying on a bed and breakfast basis in an area not exactly groaning with dining options, wheels are an essential part of a stay at the Vila Park. The private garden is replete with sun loungers overlooking the Savica river that connects the eponymous waterfall with Lake Bohinj, before becoming the Sava Bohinjka in Ribcev Laz. Of the local dining options Gostilna Erlah merits a mention, its outdoor terrace affords diners the chance to opt for their fish(usually trout) of choice from a holding tank, if you are of strong stomach and without pescatarian sensibilities.
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Hotel & Villa Stare impel-bohinj.si/
A self-styled two star hotel, the Hotel Stare offers ten guest bedrooms in its main building and a luxury new build Villa predominantly rented out by the week that is something of a antithesis to the budget nature of the hotel side of Mr. Stare’s operation. Crucially offering half board accommodation in an area not overly bestowed with restaurants, the Hotel Stare represents excellent value and has seemingly attempted to in part fill the considerable void left by the Bellevue and Zlatorog. Vegetarian and other dietary predilections are catered for. Plans can be found on their website for a bolder vision encompassing a more intensive development that will do well to gain the approval of the TNP and Bohinj Obcina. I for one hope this precedent isn’t set.
Overall rating: 7/10
Ski Hotel Vogel(SKH) www.hotel-ski.si/en/sport-and-relax
Another relic from the pre-independence Socialist era of Tito and the Non-Aligned Movement, the SKH provokes rheumy-eyed reminiscences from those who travelled from the furthest reaches of Yugoslavia to stay in what was, and undoubtedly still is, a building that is iconic and ironic in equal measure. One would struggle to find a more brutalist edifice in such a least appropriate setting but herein lies the rub: its notoriety has reached such levels that in a similar way the communications tower atop the Kitzbueheler Horn attracted such an initial outcry, it has become such a part of the local fabric that its removal or significant remodeling are now unthinkable. Until relatively recently mired in decrepitude redolent of the current woes experienced by the Zlatorog and Bellevue, in 2014 two resourceful entrepreneurs reopened a modestly refurbished Ski Hotel that was realistically renovated when one considers the significant financial risk attached to such a uniquely positioned and near-derelict property. Two years after its relative renaissance the SKH still seems to be on track and whilst its exterior will never register anything other than shock and awe to the unprepared visitor alighting the Vogel cableway at its Rjava Skala top station, it is pleasing to note that its new custodians have been successful, incidentally the same duo rumoured to be interested in bringing the Zlatorog back to life. There doesn’t sadly appear to be any desire to open during the summer months, despite its location giving hikers an excellent head start for day and multiday treks. Perhaps a strategy allowing for year-round opening would bring the hotel’s name into disrepute – it sounds exactly what it is: a ski hotel. Whilst the Hotel Rjava Skala would be an epithet that offers more seasonal flexibility and reflect its exact location, the outcry resulting from a name change squarely rules out the possibility.
Overall rating: 7/10