No Bed, No Breakfast, but 4-Star Gunfire. Welcome to a War Hostel.

A Sarajevo hostel recreating the 1990s wartime experience falls under a growing global niche of “dark tourism.” There are no beds, and the sound of gunfire fills the rooms, but there is Wi-Fi.

Comments: 25

  1. So “war tourism” is now a thing - experience second-hand the terror of those whose lives were ruined if not completely destroyed. How delightful.

  2. Should we start regulating what people see in war exhibits and museums? Apparently, attempts of bringing authenticity to the horrors of war will offend some of us in the 1st World.

  3. This is sick and depraved. I wonder how people currently living in war zones feel about this. The people who patronize these places are heartless creeps.

  4. @Penny White People currently living in war zones, like Syria, welcome anyone taking interest in what’s happening there. The bigger problem is that people just don’t care unless it affects them. As a war survivor, I welcome everyone with curiosity and interest about these things - that’s how we learn and understand. Just slinging around words like “depraved” doesn’t help anyone.

  5. Sick. On any and all levels, just depraved.

  6. How sad. These "tourists" should be ashamed of themselves -- literally taking pleasure in other people's trauma. Maybe they could take the thousands they've spent on these "vacations" and donate them to help actual victims of actual wars.

  7. @Rose I think it's an assumption that they're taking "pleasure" in it. Maybe they're trying to remember, to understand. There are a million reason they could be there, just as someone visiting Auschwitz may be trying to be reverent and understand more deeply.

  8. Well, people celebrate Thanksgiving here. We even have an annual parade.

  9. @KR, Architect I know that it's now PC to pooh-pooh Thanksgiving, but really, it's not like we are 'celebrating' the slaughter of Native Americans. Yes, I know my history, but the Thanksgiving holiday, in its purest form, is simply a day to show thanks for what you have...for family. Why can't we celebrate the idea of Thanksgiving AND at the same time do better for the Native Americans who are still in this country? I really tire of kneejerk political correctness. By some people's rationale, perhaps all non-natives should pack up and leave the US?

  10. @Lisa Who would take us?

  11. @Lisa I celebrate Thanksgiving as thanks for the crops and the bounty of nature. Nothing political in that.

  12. I was in Sarajevo during the siege, and I don’t see anything wrong with “dark tourism”. Curiosity about places with a dark past is normal - and often a catalyst for complex emotions about wartime violence and the dark side of human nature. This is something that should be experienced and talked about.

  13. @LA 3 NYC: "This is something that should be experienced and talked about." Since you were actually there during the siege, I find it odd that you would call the hostel "an experience." It is voyeuristic tourism of the most mindless kind, imagining that one can actually "experience" war by being in such a synthetic -- aka safe -- environment. Reminds me of people going out to watch battles during the Civil War here.

  14. @BldrHouse You can’t “experience” war unless you were in the war. I think everyone understands that staying at a “war hostel” isn’t tantamount to experiencing war. Experience in this case is just engaging with a place and it’s history in a way that generates interest and conversation. I also don’t think it’s “voyeuristic” - war fiction and violence in entertainment are more on the voyeuristic side, I think.

  15. Makes no sense to me. Here’s another reason to be disappointed in today’s humanity.

  16. Mr. Kurbasic wants to “simply...let guests, particularly younger ones, get a small idea of the discomfort and deprivations of wartime.” “But it is not cool. It is not a game.” The problem may be that it is not sufficiently authentic. Why not add vicious rape of all women visitors, and a few men to be fair. Line the visitors up facing a wall and start shooting - blanks, of course. But ‘authentic’ would not be good for business. To get a sense of the horrors of war, one need only visit Sarajevo - all of it, and open your eyes, as I did about 9 years ago. Look at the bullet-laced apartment buildings near the airport; I never imagined there were that many bullets in the world. Look at the cemeteries surrounding the city; every spare piece of land has tombstones, even the grass circle inside a ‘cloverleaf’ on the airport highway. And look into the hollow eyes of the older people who survived the horror. It seems that any aware human would understand war without the noise of gunfire; with open eyes, the silence may be more authentic.

  17. “An American guest had no problem with the constant sound of gunfire and sleeping on the floor without sheets, he said. “But when I told her there is no internet, she said, ‘I’m leaving.’”” I laughed at this for way too long. I don’t see anything depraved about dark tourism, though. If anything it means they’re interested in expanding their empathy. How is it different from going to a museum? Or a Civil War re-enactment? How is the experiential element so offensive when it’s being run by someone who actually experienced the war (unlike the commenters here)?

  18. Really, a 27 year old who wasn't even alive while the war was raging in Bosnia knows what it was really like? And if rest of Sarajevo is ok with this, they officially lose rights to complain about anything that happened to that city in early 90s.

  19. @Sana At 27, he would’ve been alive during the war.. As to what Sarajevans can and can’t do - we don’t take orders from anyone about such things. :) Have a nice day.

  20. Nah! I think I'll go to Club Med instead.

  21. This desire feels like a perverted sickness to me. I’m no shrink, but is there psychopathology attached to this desire?

  22. I took a look at this place, but wound up Couchsurfing for a couple of nights with a couple who had lived through the siege. And at no cost I received an exhaustive oral history of that dark time, sans the theatrics.

  23. Sarajevo needs tourism dollars, so whatever brings tourists to the city is fine with me.

  24. Every politician should be forced to spend time here.

  25. It is mentioned that younger Bosnians seem to want to forget, which is understandable but means there is a huge and possibly painful generational divide. When one is in Sarajevo surrounded by those cemeteries but on thecway to some cafe, it is easy to perceive a disconnect. To address this is some way maybe there needs to be creative projects for as well as by Bosnians, beyond the tourist biz. I don't know. I dont object to this hostel at all, and I work on genocide issues. It depends what you bring to the experience, I guess, and of course it is not for everyone. The project and the prime placement of this article got us to pay attention to the Bosnian genocide for a change. I hope people will not take pluralism and coexistence for granted.