Pristava Lepena

Soca, Slovenia Book from Book from £112 per night

A cluster of chic wooden cabins in the stunning Soca Valley - ideal for outdoor pursuits, adventure sports and unspoilt Alpine scenery
Hidden away in an Alpine meadow in Slovenia's Triglav National Park lies a cluster of simple but comfortable stone and wooden chalets, surrounded by wild flowers and the soaring peaks of the Julian Alps. The stunningly beautiful Soca river which flows beneath this plateau is one of Slovenia's highlights, and Pristava Lepena is definitely one of the country's most charming accommodations.

This was the brainchild of Milan and Silvia Dolenc, who built it up from scratch before handing it on to new owners in 2018. The ambiance is relaxed but friendly, welcoming outdoorsy types with a nose for hidden gems. Endless walking trails, azure (though icy) rivers with white-sand beaches, riding and world-class fishing are all on your doorstep. For adrenaline junkies, rafting, kayaking and paragliding are easily arranged - the nearby village of Bovec is Slovenia's centre for adventure sports. Afterwards, you can unwind in the sauna, watch the sunset and tuck into a hearty dinner, before a peaceful night's sleep. It's perfect for families and couples looking for an active off-the-beaten-track holiday, and a good base for exploring Slovenia. One of our most exciting discoveries!

Highs

  • For me: learning to ride on one of their pure-bred Lipizzan horses - novices are welcome and, for competent riders, wonderful forest and river treks await
  • For my husband: fly-fishing
  • For anyone: spectacular scenery and fresh air at very reasonable prices
  • Ideal for families - there's plenty of space, endless activities, and pet goats and ponies to make friends with
  • It's only 1.5 hours from Lake Bled and 2 from Ljubljana (airport)

Lows

  • Since new owners took over in 2018 we’ve received mixed reviews about service in the restaurant
  • Rooms are fairly simple, and recent feedback suggest they could benefit from a revamp
  • If your perfect holiday is to spend the day lazing on a sun-lounger, this isn't the place for you (although there is a small swimming pool set among the trees)
  • Likewise, if you are seeking nightlife you should look elsewhere
  • Expect the odd rainy day - that's why it's so lush!

Best time to go

July and August are the warmest months (temperatures reach about 80F, though evenings are cool) and are high season. Spring, early summer and autumn are ideal for riding, lower rates and fewer tourists. The hotel closes from the beginning of October until late May.

Our top tips

In the summer there is a minimum stay of 4 nights. Most people stay for a week or more. If you like hiking, fishing and adventure sports you will not be bored. We stayed for 10 days and still didn't have time to do everything.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • Alpine Lodge
  • 13
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Table football
Room:

Rooms

Scattered around the meadow, amid pine trees and huge boulders (which thankfully fell from the mountains many years ago!) are a handful of 2-3 bedroom chalets (Apartments A1, A2 or B), ideal for families or a group of friends. There are also some smaller adjoining apartment-rooms for couples (Rooms C or D). We opted for an upstairs room with its double bed cosily tucked in under the slanting wooden roof (Room C). However, for claustrophobics, we would recommend those on the ground floor (Room D), less charming but with their own seating area in the meadow.

All are decorated in the same simple but charming style: wooden walls, traditional Trenta wood-burning stoves, and cosy and comfortable pine beds with thick duvets. They are basic and slightly old fashioned, but it is fitting with the feel of the place and you wouldn’t expect or want anything different. Bathrooms are small but very clean with hot showers (no bathtubs); hairdryers and basic toiletries are provided and towels are changed daily. Although each each room and apartment has a table, chairs, a small fridge/minibar, a sink and complimentary tea and coffee, they are not self-catering.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

With all this activity you will need some hearty meals, and that is exactly what you get at Pristava Lepena.

Before dinner, sit out on the terrace with a generous G&T, watch the sunset and admire the galloping Lipizzan horses. Slovenian cuisine is strongly influenced by Italian and Austrian cooking, so the relaxed candle-lit dining room serves good, honest fare - not epicurean, but tasty and wholesome. Memorable dishes included tagliatelle with local wild mushrooms, beef fillet with a goulash-style sauce, and Soca-river trout. Try the traditional strudel pastry pudding too; ours was filled with walnuts, raisins and cottage cheese.

The weekly feast nights are also great fun; Milan usually barbecues dinner outdoors and everyone dines together with views of the mountains. The bar has local wines; the beer is decent and cheap, and the water is mountain pure.

At breakfast, we found the ham, fruit, freshly baked bread and cooked eggs sufficient to keep us going through the day - but if not, the restaurant serves lunch.

Want a change of scene? Bovec village has some simple eateries (a 15-minute drive) and one of Slovenia's top restaurants, Hisa Franko, is 35km away in Kobarid. However, we were too exhausted by the end of each day, and never got round to venturing out!

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Pure-bred Lipizzan horses reside at Pristava, so for competent riders there are treks through the forest, and for learners there’s a riding school. Small children can have pony rides
  • Walking and hiking trails lead you up over mountain passes to alpine lakes, or along river valleys to hidden waterfalls. There are also some fixed cable (via ferrata) mountain walking routes
  • The stunning Soca river is famous for its trout - guides can take you fly-fishing or you can bring your own kit and buy a permit
  • …You can also lounge beside the river or even jump into one of the natural pools - the water may look like the Caribbean but the temperature is rather different!
  • White-water rafting and kayaking can easily be arranged in Bovec - we spent a couple of exhilarating hours going down the Soca with experienced guides
  • The more adventurous can try canyoning, paragliding and gliding/skydiving (July/August). Kanin, one of Europe’s longest zip-lining stretches, is also nearby and has spectacular views of the Soca Valley
  • Back at Pristava Lepena, enjoy tennis, table tennis and archery; there’s also a fitness room and swimming pool
  • From Pristava Lepena, full day trips can also be made to the coast, the famous karst caves, Lake Bled, Bohinj and Ljubljana

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Rafting
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Trekking

Kids

It doesn't get more perfect for active children - loads to do, with much of it included in the price - tennis, table tennis, archery, a small swimming pool, riding lessons, trail riding (ages 14+) and for little ones short pony rides and pet goats to pat. For the more adventurous, there's rafting, canoeing, canyoning and kayaking (courses available), or just mucking about on one of Europe's most beautiful rivers.

Those under 2 go free (as long as you provide their meals), 2-6 years old get a 50% discount and 6-12 years old get a 20% discount.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The apartments are best for families as they have 2-3 bedrooms each (including twin rooms) and space for extra beds and baby cots. Note that there are no baths in the cabins, only showers.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Large breakfasts are available and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner - caters for kids of all ages. Cabins each have a small fridge/minibar, electric kettle, complimentary tea and coffee and a sink. For tinies, the hotel provides a hob to warm up milk or bottled baby food.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pet goats and ponies to befriend
  • Unfenced swimming pool (watch out, it's solar-heated)
  • Ping-pong, tennis, archery
  • Games room with pool table, table football and TV
  • Horse riding lessons (age 6 and up), guided trail riding (ages 14+), and escorted pony rides (for the very youngest riders)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Hiking
  • Water sports including rafting, kayaking and canyoning
  • Woods to play in and nature to explore
  • Zip-lining nearby

Families Should Know:

All the cabins have wood-burning stoves and there's no fencing around the pool. After flying to Trieste, you have a 2-hour car journey ahead of you - bring things to keep the kids occupied!

Distances:

  • Airport: 2 hours
  • Hospital: 75 minutes
  • Shops: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Pristava Lepena is in the heart of the beautiful Soca Valley, in Slovenia. The nearest village is Bovec, a 15-minute drive away.

By Air
The easiest route is to fly to Trieste Airport, Italy (134km), or to Venice-Marco Polo and hire a car at either airport. You should declare that you are planning on travelling across the border, but this is quite common so there should not be a problem.

Alternatively, fly into Slovenia’s Ljubljana Airport (130km).

From the Airport
From Trieste and Venice, Pristava Lepena is about a 2-hour drive north along the Soca Valley; from Ljubljana Airport, it’s also about a 2 hour drive through the mountainous Triglav National Park.

We’d definitely recommend hiring a car as the hotel’s setting is pretty isolated and you'll feel stranded without one. Driving in Slovenia is a lovely experience; the roads are quiet and the scenery stunning.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Slovenia and getting around

Airports:

  • Trieste Ronchi Dei Legionari 134.0 km TRS
  • Ljubljana 130.0 km LJU

Other:

  • Beach 150.0 km
  • Shops 5.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 17 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
8/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We had a terrific family holiday. A beautiful setting and lots of outside space, we made so much use of the facilities there was little incentive for going off campus, although the surroundings are dramatic and beautiful. The staff worked hard to make sure we had everything we needed, nothing too much trouble, but relaxed and easygoing at the same time. Relatively expensive during the school holiday period but worth it

9/10,

The location was idyllic and room (C2) very comfortable and cosy. We were greeted with friendliness at reception and given such invaluable advice for the activities we wanted to do in Bovec. I would recommend this place for the location and accommodation alone. The service in the restaurant however was poor. We were expected to find our own glasses / cutlery a lot of the time, and not asked if we wanted to order any additional drinks at any point. The buffet food was fine (fish very tasty) but we thought it was quite expensive. Breakfast however was great and varied. Overall we really enjoyed our stay but felt like the restaurant could definitely be improved (service and buffet) to urge guests to stay for dinner rather than go into town. Thanks very much and we hope to return one day.

7/10,

We had a great two weeks at Pristava Lepena and will return. The setting is stunning - mountains, rivers and amazing skies. A real retreat and ideal for active families with kids of all ages. Nothing is too much trouble, staff are all lovely and go out of their way to do whatever is needed. The chalets are comfortable, clean and feel very private and, whilst there is a lot to do nearby, a very chilled but active day can be spent at the hotel riding, swimming, playing tennis and doing archery. The riding was great, the owner provided some good instruction to our 9 year old and the horses are beautiful. Further afield, Bovec has a wealth of adventures for older kids and the agency Elena recommended were brilliant. True, the restaurant is haphazard and they need a good front of house but the service got better and better and the menu more varied. BBQ nights with a suckling pig were fantastic - great to sit and eat by the roaring camp fire and you can BYO. You can also book out the bbq area for a group - you bring the food, they provide all the equipment needed for a great evening.
Bottom line - it’s not slick or fancy but it is absolutely wonderful.

10/10,

We really enjoyed our time in Slovenia. Pristava Lepena is a very nice resort but let down by not having enough staff in the restaurant. Whilst the food was nice, it arrived in a completely random order, often with a 45 minute gap between different main courses. The new owners need to employ more staff as a matter of urgency for the sanity of their existing staff who are lovely.

9/10,

Pristava Lepena was wonderful. Absolutely majestic setting and extremely helpful staff. Also the food was incredible. Would definitely recommend. Its a little shabby chic but all still very unique and charming.

9/10,

Wonderfully friendly and thoughtful staff, charming accommodation. Location can only be described as serene. Absolutely loved our stay.

10/10,

It's in an absolutely beautiful setting in the valley, with kayaking, rafting, cycling, swimming in the pool or the Soca (if you're brave/insane), horse riding, assault course all available onsite or in nearby Bovec. Slovenia is pristine. A day trip to Bled (90 mins away) is totally recommended, not least for the insane drive over the pass, and because Lake Bled is much warmer to swim in. Onsite breakfast is good, and there are plenty of other places for evening meals (although definitely eat in on barbecue evenings). The lovely lady in charge was very helpful, and very kind. The downsides : our apartment was a bit on the small side, and they are dark inside. The evening meals themselves were ok, but nothing to write home about. As for the rest, it was all pretty perfect.

9/10,

The location is stunning and you really feel like you have a tiny part of the world to yourself. The accommodation is basic but that's part of being at one with nature. Saying that, the rooms were comfortable with plentiful hot water and towels for the pool. The menu offered a choice of robust meat dishes or a lighter fish/veggie option. The BBQ evening was enjoyable with the delicious local potatoes cooked on the camp fire. Nina was a really patient horse riding instructor. Silvia and Milan are very welcoming and work really hard to provide helpful information to guests. In summary, a perfect location for an active family holiday. Bovec has many outdoor activity centres through which you can book your water sports. With our children aged 8 and 11 we had the most adventurous time Kayaking, rafting and canyoning. The local nettle soup in the larger Italian restaurant was really warming after a chilly morning on the water.

9/10,

We had a wonderful stay at Pristava Lepena. Our two little girls (7 and 4) loved the pool, our cottage and the horses and we found the location and atmosphere to be a perfect escape. Will definitely go back.

9/10,

Beautiful location with easy and challenging walks right on the doorstep. Owners and staff were really friendly and made us feel at home from the moment we arrived. We went without the kids this time but would be more than happy to take the kids there next time. Drive from Ljubljana took just over 2 hours with satnav taking us round to the north through Austria and Italy. We drove back round the south of the national park, staying in Slovenia, and we had a more scenic drive that only took a little while longer. A great place to visit.

9/10,

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