As a frequent traveller I always want to save money wherever I can and accommodation is one area of my holidays where I am happy to go for the most basic option in order to spend more money elsewhere. That's not always easy in Europe where you often need to book well in advance and even the lowest level of accommodation can be pricey in some cities.
Slovenia's second city, Maribor, does not have a huge choice of accommodation in the city centre because most people come to ski or to follow the wine routes and tend to stay in accommodation in the countryside or closer to the ski grounds. The iconic Hotel Slavia is earmarked for demolition and of the other central hotels a leisure company called Terme Maribor have the monopoly with several business class hotels and one with spa facilities just on the edge of the city.
Hotel Uni is actually a wing of the more expensive Hotel Orel though you access it through Hotel Orel's reception. It is variously described as a hotel, a hostel and a "residence". Basically it's a hall of residence for students but operates more like a hotel. Non-students can stay there at term times as well as in the holidays unlike other halls of residence that often just have rooms to rent to tourists in the summer vacation. I am unsure what proportion of rooms are available to the public but we have stayed there on four different occasions and have always been able to get a room.
There are single, twin and triple rooms. All rooms are en suite and the quality is excellent for a budget hotel. The decor is neutral and in good condition; the soft furnishings are tasteful and add a touch of comfort. We did find that the bathroom in one room was smaller than in the other rooms we have had there and that you had to manoeuvre carefully to be able to shut the door because it came so close to the edge of the toilet. Otherwise the bathrooms are fine with plenty of hot water and even some complimentary toiletries.
Since it's primarily a student residence there are only a couple of rooms with double beds; the other rooms have only single beds in singles, twins and triples. All rooms have a television set and a mini fridge. Alas the latter is empty but is useful if you are intending to self cater because you can use the small kitchens at the end of each corridor. The rooms have desks, reading lamps and internet points. If you haven't brought a laptop there is a computer room you can use free of charge. There is free wi-fi access in the reception lobby.
Slovenian television is abysmal but there are plenty of cable channels including several European and American news channels - better still watch Serbian television - it's a scream! Like Borat but less professional.
For 'hotel' customers, breakfast is included in the nightly rate. If you rent a room as a student, for which you need student identification, breakfast is not included. Breakfast is eaten in Hotel Orel and is my favourite thing about this hotel. You can go continental with lovely fresh bread, cheeses and meats, or have some fresh pineapple and melon, or how about some tasty spicy sausages and scrambled egg mixed with green peppers? You can make your own waffles or have cereal, yogurt, toast - the choice is huge and the buffet is regularly replenished. The only negative is that the juice which is diluted and comes out of a machine is awful, as it the coffee which is also from a vending type machine. Do not be tempted to try to the cappuccino - it looks like the result of an industrial accident.
All the staff I have met here have been lovely. Reception is staffed twenty four hours although you they may not always be able to help you. On my first visit I discovered that the pillows were feather-filled which I am allergic to but I didn't notice this until about ten p.m. When I asked at reception for another one they were not able to help because they didn't have access to the linen store. However, when I pressed I was given a key card for a vacant Hotel Orel room and they allowed me to take one of the synthetic pillows from there.
All the reception staff speak English and several of them speak German and Italian too. There are plenty of leaflets on the local area as well as information on the other Terme Maribor hotels and the staff can make arrangements for you to use the spa facilities
The location comes in a close second behind the wonderful breakfasts. It's situated in a traffic free lane just off Grajski Trg where you'll find Maribor Castle. You are in the heart of town with shops, bars and restaurants on the doorstep. It's a ten minutes walk to the bus and train stations and there is car-parking beside the hotel.
Although the Hotel Orel rooms are lovely I am not sure they are worth paying the extra for if you are going to be out most of the time. The Hotel Uni rooms are clean, comfortable and excellent value and when you consider that you are getting the same breakfast and enjoying the same location it seems crazy to pay any more. I thoroughly recommend this hotel; although I no longer need to stay here, I still miss those wonderful breakfasts and sometimes when I pass I long to be back in the breakfast room making my own waffles!
At the time of writing rooms for non students in the Hotel Uni wing are priced at £27 per person, making the full cost of a double room £54.00 including breakfast.
Hostel rooms for students are cheaper but breakfast is an extra 8 Euro if taken.
NOTE - I stayed here four times in 2007 and now have my own home In Maribor. However, I still recommend it to people visiting Maribor and we still use Hotel Uni for "overspill" when we don;t have enough room at home.
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