If you are an adept of dark tourism, you will love this war hostel in Bosnia which stands on the site of owner Arijan Kurbasic's family home where he experienced the war as a child.
According to the New York Times, he greets guests wearing army fatigues, black boots, a helmet, and a flak jacket, and asks them to call him Zero One, his father’s code name during the war. Arijan Kurbasic makes it perfectly clear on his website – War Hostel Sarajevo is not for mainstream tourists and certainly not for the faint of heart. The 26-year-old is seated behind a pile of sandbags that function as a reception desk. He explains that he survived the Bosnian War as a toddler, "My family and I experienced a war we didn't ask for, and we survived it out of pure luck," says Kurbasic. "I offer immersive experiences and war tours to show what happens when people get divided into 'us and them'."
Should you have a taste for the macabre and end up staying in that most unusual hostel, you will find an unusual decor — lots of guns and, in one room, a poster screaming “Death” and “The End.”
The sofa in the hostel's common room is covered in camouflage upholstery. Flags, news clippings, and automatic rifles hang on the walls. At night, deprived of electricity, guests read by lighting oil candles and fall asleep on sponge mats, listening to the sound of gunfire and bomb explosions played over a sound system. The years of the siege of Sarajevo stretch on inside the city's War Hostel, a place where visitors get a taste of daily life in a war zone.
You can spend the night in “the bunker,” a dark dungeon room so uncomfortable that, the owner himself said, “it is insane to want to sleep there.”
It will cost you 20 euros, about $22.50 to sleep there. There is smoke pumped out by a machine to create a choking fog. The floor is made from packed mud, while the walls and ceiling consist of crudely cut logs. You can sleep on hard wooden boards without a mattress. Material things like cell phones, jewelry, and watches are banned in the bunker.
Kurbasic said he had considered cutting off the water in the hostel and forcing guests to collect it in buckets outside, as most people in Sarajevo had to do during the war, but he decided against it. He also installed Wi-Fi, a result of his young clientele request.
At the war hostel, Mr. Kurbasic said his aim was not to create nostalgia for Europe’s worst conflict since World War II but simply to let guests, especially millennials, experience and understand the discomfort and deprivations of wartime.