Zagreb: Mali Mrak Hostel
Get There: Dubička 8. Jump on any tram that goes to Črnomerec – the 2, 6 or 11 – and it’s just a five minute walk from there. If you’re going to book, it’s better to contact them directly rather than through corporate bad boy Hostelworld.
Cost: HRK105 – 155 (20-30AUD)
Free Breaky: Technically no, but there’s always free food floating around.
Free WiFi: Of course.
Bar: Nope, but one minute away is a cellar with wine on tap for about HRK16 a litre.
If I achieve my goal of one day building a beautiful beatnik hostel near the edge of the Croatian forest, it’s going to look a lot like Mali Mrak. As soon as you walk through the door, you’ll feel at home – not as in at home with your parents, but at home with 20 other legends at some sort of epic arty commune. Check in, and the staff will shake your hand, learn your name in an instant, brew you a delicious Turkish coffee and then help you explore Zagreb.
There is none of the sterility or cold-bloodedness that so often accompanies the term “hostel”, and in fact Mali Mrak prefers the term “home for travellers”. Even the walls – which are adorned with incredible spidery artwork done by the effervescent owner Igor and his friend Natalia – seem to radiate good vibes. If you’re paintbrush-savvy yourself, there’s the option of joining Igor in his quest to turn the hostel into a living work of art, working and staying for free.
At Mali Mrak, there’s none of the usual “pay extra for a towel” bullshit; if they are booked out, they’ll help you find a new bed somewhere else; and the phenomenal staff will even do your washing – all you have to do is buy something for everyone to share, like a few beers or a bunch of a grapes. The activities on offer are neverending, from free yoga to hiking to market trips. In the 24 hours I was there, we cooked on the outdoor summer stove, rode bikes to the local brewery and road tripped to a lush river near the Bosiljevac mill for a swim.
As Igor says himself: respect the house and the people in and around it, and you’ll have all their knowledge and resources at your disposal (aka – no dickheads, pls). There is ample kitchen space, super strong internet, plenty of showers and numerous common areas to mooch out in. It’s also just 10-30 minutes to get into the centre of town depending on whether you walk or tram it.
Mali Mrak is hands down the best hostel I’ve stayed at, and if I could move in here forever, I probably would. And from the hundreds of thankyou letters adorning the walls, I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.