Pristava Lepena

Soca Valley, Slovenia Book from

Reviewed by Nikki Tinto
Cluster of 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.

Owners Milan and Silvia Dolenc have created a relaxed haven for outdoor enthusiasts. 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. Ideal 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

  • Spectacular scenery and fresh air at reasonable prices
  • Friendly owners Milan and Silvia are well travelled and speak an impressive array of languages
  • 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
  • Ideal for families - there's plenty of space, endless activities, and pet goats and ponies to make friends with

Lows

  • If your idea of the perfect holiday is to spend the day lazing on a comfortable sun-lounger, this probably isn't the place for you (although there is a small swimming pool set among the trees)
  • Likewise, if you are seeking nightlife and gourmet restaurants you should look elsewhere
  • Rooms are fairly simple, the emphasis is on the great outdoors
  • 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
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Alpine Lodge
  • 13
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 4 Oct 2015 - 20 May 2016...
  • 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 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:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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