Croatia’s first hostel in a train has opened. It’s a lot like a sleeper train, with one small but significant difference: it doesn’t move.
The train wagon hostel sits in the Zagreb Central Train Station, so travellers arriving by rail at night need not even pass through the exit to find a place to sleep. Just one wagon has opened so far, while two more are undergoing transformation – when they’re all finished, the hostel will be able to sleep up to 90 people.
It’s got everything you might expect from your average, bricks-and-mortar hostel: toilets, showers, heating, drinking water, and Wi-Fi. Nearby there are shops, a laundry service and car and bike rental outlets.
But in a city where you’ll find a hostel on every corner, why squeeze another into this most unlikely of locations? The answer’s pretty much just because they can: funding comes, in part, from the government’s ‘innovative tourism projects’ programme. Essentially, the aim of the project is to draw tourists in not only with the old favourites (sun, sea, culture, cheap booze) but with peculiarities like this. AdriaticTrainHostels has been cooking up this idea for three years, delayed by various bureaucratic hindrances. Finally, it’s come to fruition.
The project’s designer, Zvonko Momcilovic, points out that the hostel is completely unique – while you can find other train hostels around the world, they’re normally in separate, not-train-related locations. But if you sleep here you’ll be right in the midst of the locomotive action: it’s on the tracks, with other, actual trains rushing past.
A few first guests have had inaugural sleeps in the wagon, and reactions, Momcilovic says, have been very positive. He’s keen to highlight the enhanced friend-making possibilities on offer: sure, you can get to know new people in regular hostels, but here, where your floor space is approximately one person wide, you don’t really have a choice.
The train hostel has barely been open a month, but plans are already in place to open similar hostels in unused wagons at stations in Split, Zadar, Rijeka and Pula – perfect for those interrailing their way through the country, and even more perfect for those who just really, really, really like trains.