Swanky Monkey Garden is located inside the yard of entrance number 50 on Ilica street. The building itself used to be a dry cleaning and textile dye factory and has still retained some of its original rough, industrial charm. “Swanky” has been beloved by locals in Zagreb from the beginning. To be honest, I’ve always heard more people speaking in Croatian there than in any other language, which is curious given it’s a bar that belongs to a very sharp boutique hostel.
Hostels have had a magical attraction on me ever since I first started travelling by myself; so much so that I’ve always enjoyed stopping in one place for a little longer during a trip and working or volunteering in one. Having a “local-friendly” hostel in Zagreb to sip your drink in on a lazy Saturday afternoon means being able to pretend a little that you’re not actually in your hometown when you’re having itchy feet but can’t pack your bags and leave that same moment.
A funny thing about Swanky is that they’re constantly making changes to its looks and new areas are appearing and disappearing so it ends up looking like a completely different place each time I stop by. Although its closed bar downstairs is enjoyable, the real fun is the so-called garden, a terrace looking at the not-so-shiny backsides of Zagreb’s old-town buildings, which is heated in winter and has a pool in summer.