north-korea

North Korea’s six-star hotel slammed by tourists on TripAdvisor

Dozens of outraged tourists have slammed North Korea’s only six-star hotel for its ‘prison-like’ conditions, online. The Ryanggang Hotel in Pyongyang – which is described by locals as a ‘first class’ establishment – has received 31 reviews on TripAdvisor1, with the majority of tourists giving it a big thumbs down. But for tourists seeking an alternative luxury accommodation, the capital’s other premier hotel, Kim Jong Un’s swanky 1,082ft-high Ryugyong Hotel, remains unopened, 29 years after the project began.

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North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

Underfire: A ‘six-star’ hotel in North Korea is making waves for its ‘prison-like’ conditions with dozens of guests slamming it online

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

The Ryanggang Hotel in Pyongyang – which is described by locals as a ‘first class’ establishment – has received 31 reviews on Trip Advisor

Simon Ryder from Wirral, Merseyside, who booked a room at Ryanggang Hotel in May 2012, wrote: ‘The beds are so hard I think the floor was more comfortable… I flushed the toilet and my feet got a wash.’

Another guest from Cape Town, South Africa, echoed Mr Ryder’s sentiments, writing: ‘Classic Soviet style hotel. Dismal, poorly lit, rock hard beds, miserable food, and intermittent hot water – and these are the good points!’

However, looking on the bright side, the traveller concluded that the hotel stay was all part of the ‘North Korean experience’. David Templeman from Estonia merely described the Ryanggang as ‘old and cold’. Talking about the electrics, he wrote: ‘The electric wiring is in a really poor state.

Half of power sockets are broken, and there’s bare (and possibly live) wires coming out of the floor and just end abruptly.’

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

One guest wasn’t impressed with the bathroom or bed at the Ryanggang Hotel in Pyongyang

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

A visitor said ‘western prisons are more welcoming’ than the luxury establishment

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

Good value for money? There is no word on how much rooms at the Ryanggang Hotel go for and there is no website for the business

He continued, with a touch of humour: ‘But on the plus side, there was a huge flat-screen TV with one channel: the North Korean propaganda channel, where the female narrator tries her best to sound upbeat while clips of Kim Jong Un and some fields and buildings show.’

There is no word on how much rooms at the Ryanggang Hotel go for and there is no website for the business. Many guests said they booked while being led around the city on a tour. Overall the Ryanggang emerges with a rating of 2.5 out of five on TripAdvisor, with the majority of reviewers marking it ‘average’ or ‘poor’.

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

Atmospheric: A photo of the dining area shows dozens of empty tables

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

A bad night’s sleep: Lots of reviews complained about the hard beds

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

Happy meal? Many guests weren’t impressed with the food offerings

In North Korea it appears that luxury hotels are lacking. For years, visitors have been anticipating the opening of Kim Jong Un’s swanky 1,082ft-high Ryugyong Hotel. However, the pyramid-like glass and steel building which has apparently cost more than $750millon ( 565million) to construct, remains unopened.

Work actually began in 1987 under the regime of Kim Jong-Un s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, and was meant to open two years later as a calculated snub to neighbouring South Korea. As Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics, North Korea would open what would then have been the world s tallest hotel.

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

One man said: ‘I flushed the toilet and my feet got a wash’

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

Many photos of the Ryanggang Hotel left by guests show it in an unflattering light

The structure of the mighty pyramid was quickly completed, but work came to a shuddering halt in 1992 after the collapse of Pyongyang s benefactor, the Soviet Union. It was an economic disaster for North Korea and provoked a devastating famine that killed up to 3.5million people.

So what was supposed to have been a towering symbol of the country s technical mastery instead became an idle landmark which has attracted international ridicule. An inspection by a European delegation in the Nineties concluded that the shell was irreparable and it should be torn down because of its poor-quality concrete and crooked elevator shafts.

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

For years, visitors have been anticipating the opening of Kim Jong Un’s swanky 1,082ft-high Ryugyong Hotel

North Korea's Six-star Hotel Slammed By Tourists On TripAdvisor

Long-running project: However, the pyramid-like glass and steel building which has apparently cost more than $750million to construct, remains unopened

Esquire magazine described it as the worst building in the history of mankind . Others labelled it the Hotel of Doom. The name has stuck.

In 2008, after 16 years of inactivity and to the astonishment of Western observers, work suddenly resumed. Then in 2011 its concrete was strengthened and its exterior coated in 111million worth of glass, which dazzles when it catches the sun. Its fortunes were further revived by the deep-pocketed Egyptian Orascom Group which took over as developer in 2008 after reportedly signing a $400 million deal to establish a mobile phone network in North Korea.

Orascom were responsible for installing the glass panels along with a telecom antennae.

References

  1. ^ TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.co.uk)

Adolf Hitler’s Nazi holiday camp Prora on the Rugen island turned into a luxury resort

A massive Nazi Discount Holidays © holiday camp built by Hitler to be the ‘Baltic Butlin’s’ of the Third Reich has now opened as a luxury resort on one of Germany’s finest beaches. The dull and grey concrete shell of the Prora resort on R gen island lay virtually untouched for decades since it was abandoned by Hitler in 1939 on the outbreak of World War II. Now developers Prora Solitaire has opened one of the complex’s eight blocks at a sprawling luxury apartment block, with three more to follow.

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Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

A massive Nazi Discount Holidays © holiday camp built by Hitler to be the ‘Baltic Butlin’s’ of the Third Reich has now opened as a luxury resort on one of Germany’s finest beaches

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Hitler abandoned the audacious original plan (pictured) in 1939 to focus on the war effort and it was never resumed

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

The dull and grey concrete shell of the Prora resort on R gen island lay virtually untouched for decades since it was abandoned by Hitler in 1939 on the outbreak of World War II

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

95 per cent flats at the former Nazi camp, now transformed into apartments, have already been snapped up by buyers

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Now developers Prora Solitaire has opened one of the complex’s eight blocks at a sprawling luxury apartment block, with three more to follow

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

New images released by the developers after the first block opened have revealed what the apartments look like inside

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

The kitchens – now ready for the buyers to use – feature granite-style worktops, clean angles and modern appliances

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

The glamorous rooms (pictured) in the luxurious resort have opened and could be a fresh chapter in the story of an idea that was all but abandoned more than 60 years ago

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Pictures released before it was built gave an impression of what the exclusive resort might look like when it was finished

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

The haunting Discount Holidays © holiday camp that was built as a relaxing, seaside retreat for hardworking Nazis has now opened for guests

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Prora was built by Adolf Hitler between 1936 and 1939, on R gen, Germany’s largest island, but never saw a guest through its doors, until recent real estate developments

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Boasting over 10,000 rooms, it was intended as the Third Reich’s equivalent of Butlin’s, but construction ceased when the Nazi leader chose to focus on the looming World War 2

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Glossy interiors (pictured, artists’ impressions) await the owner of the luxury apartments, most of which have now been sold

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Condos can be bought for between 125,000 and 900,000, for those who want a permanent plot of Prora (pictured, artists’ impressions)

Ninety-five per cent of apartments in the initial complex have already been sold, with buyers splashing out between 297,857 to 553,163 for a sea-view penthouse. Because the property is considered historic, German tax payers can claim generous tax breaks on the purchases. The frosted glass lobbies and airy interiors are, however, a long way from Hitler’s original dream.

The resort was originally intended to provide holidays for 20,000 Third Reich workers who could benefit from fresh air and indoctrination sessions in Nazi ideology in the Kraft durch Freude – Strength through Joy – programme.

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

The construction was part of a programme introduced by Hitler, called Kraft durch Freude – meaning ‘strength through joy

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

It was planned to be the biggest Discount Holidays © holiday camp in the world, occupying over three miles of beach front, and the aim was to provide a bucket-and-spade resort for 20,000 families from Hitler’s ‘master race’

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

There were eight identical buildings erected, offering entertainment, catered meals and organised fun based around Nazi propaganda, and it even won an award in 1937 for its Bauhaus design

Nearly three miles of beachfront concrete buildings fell under communist East German control after the war and some were converted into Cold War barracks. Now they are set to receive their first holiday-makers, complete with a spa resort and trendy restaurants. Some, however, feel the buildings may never live down their Nazi past. Historian Katja Lucke – who runs a museum on the island – said: ‘This is a place where 20,000 people were to be groomed to work and wage war.’

But Berlin firm Metropole, which owns rights to the camp believes it can have a new beginning.

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

With the onset of war, the intended Discount Holidays © holiday haven held an entirely different function.Nazis used the buildings to house workers and to provide accommodation to refugees

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Over time the giant resort fell into disrepair, and was only saved from demolition by being given landmark status

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Prora was built by Hitler between 1936 and 1939 to be a ‘Baltic Butlin’s’

Spokesman Manfred Hartwig, said: ‘The past is the past. Prora may have been built by the Nazis , but it was never used by them or their soldiers. Now the place is so lovely, visitors want to get back to nature and enjoy its beauty.’

Prora was built by Adolf Hitler between 1936 and 1939, with 10,000 rooms, it was intended as the Third Reich’s equivalent of Butlin’s, but construction ceased when the Nazi leader chose to focus on the looming Second World War. It was planned to be the biggest Discount Holidays © holiday camp in the world, occupying over three miles of beach front, and the aim was to provide a bucket-and-spade resort for 20,000 families from Hitler’s ‘master race’.

There were eight identical buildings erected, offering entertainment, catered meals and organised fun based around Nazi propaganda, and it even won an award in 1937 for its Bauhaus design. With the onset of war, the intended Discount Holidays © holiday haven held an entirely different function.

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

It was hoped that despite their history, the Discount Holidays © holiday homes (pictured last year) would be sought after, and they have proved an attractive acquisition

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

The grand opening of the complex (pictured last year) was scheduled for October with the first full-time tenants already moving in to the ‘Colossus of Rugen’

Adolf Hitler's Nazi <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Camp Prora On The Rugen Island Turned Into A Luxury Resort

Estate agent Kathrin Lange, told German press, the buildings are for ‘risk-tolerant investors’ last year (pictured, during the building process) but 95 per cent have now been sold

Nazis used the buildings to house workers and to provide accommodation to refugees. Over time the giant resort fell into disrepair, and was only saved from demolition by being given landmark status.

The Soviets considered blowing it up, but it was discovered they didn’t have enough dynamite for the job, so it became a massive tank-and-artillery base for the People’s Army of East Germany and it vanished from all maps. It is hoped that despite its history, the Discount Holidays © holiday homes will be sought after, and 57 flats have already been snapped up. The grand opening is scheduled for October with the first full-time tenants already moving in to the ‘Colossus of Ruegen’.

Estate agent Kathrin Lange, told German press, the buildings are for ‘risk-tolerant investors’.

From bowing to statues to running marathons: A travel blogger reveals what it’s really like to be a tourist in North Korea

  • Entrepreneur Jacob Laukaitis visited North Korea with a tour group in 2016
  • He made a fascinating and insightful video of his seven-day journey there
  • Laukaitis visited countless schools but rarely got to interact with locals

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North Korea is often seen as one of the most mysterious places in the world to visit as it’s so closed off to the outside world. But a new video has revealed what it’s really like to be a tourist in the country. The fascinating footage and narrative revealed that as a holidaymaker, you’re never allowed to travel around on your own and you always have to ask your tour guide for permission before photographing anything.

On Laukaitis’ first day in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, he went on the underground

The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang was one of the sights that the tour group visited during their stay

Laukaitis even took part in the Pyongyang marathon, which was only open to beginners for the third time

The video1 was created by Jacob Laukaitis, a 22-year-old entrepreneur and travel blogger who travels most of the year. He explains in the introduction that having explored some 50 countries, North Korea became a destination that he felt he had to visit. Laukaitis, who co-founded ChameleonJohn.com2, headed to Beijing, China, where he was given a briefing about visiting North Korea before beginning his seven-day tour.

He says that he had to surrender his passport while he was in North Korea and his guide monitored him constantly. Laukaitis’ journey coincided with the birthday of the Eternal President of the Republic Kim Il-sung, and the group followed the locals to pay their respect to the monuments

Left, the Monument to Party Founding, Right, the Juche Tower, the tallest structure in the capital Pyongyang

Every photograph he wanted to take needed permission from the guide as he was not allowed to capture certain aspects of life in North Korea, like soldiers, workers or construction sites. Although Laukaitis didn’t want to get into the politics of the country, he was keen to mention in his video that just a couple of weeks earlier, US student Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel.

During his trip, Laukaitis was led from place to place at specified times. He says he had little opportunity to interact with locals and in turn, the locals seemed to have little interest or were too afraid to interact with the foreign visitors. From high up, Laukaitis saw some stunning scenes of North Korea though after sun-down, most of the city is left in darkness

He was able to see how some of the locals lived on a tram journey in Pyongyang.

On board, he spotted little leaflets pinned to different parts of the carriage, which he says were thoughts of the leaders and their advice for the people. They visited schools, parks and other education establishments almost every day according to Laukaitis, and each time the pupils would perform for the visitors. Laukaitis even took part in the Pyongyang marathon, which was only open to beginners for the third time.

However, having recently injured his arm, Laukaitis decided to walk 10km of the journey and saw parts of the city close up. At one point, Laukaitis saw many women wearing traditional outfits dancing in a square

The group’s journey also coincided with the birthday of the Eternal President of the Republic, Kim Il-sung, and the group followed the locals to pay their respect to the monuments. Large groups of North Koreans were seen offering flowers and bowing to ‘leader statues’ in memory of Kim Il-sung.

The entire trip was tightly choreographed. At one point, the group were allowed to go on one ride at a theme park before being told they had to leave. The seven day journey was one of the most interesting journeys for Laukaitis, but he says he left the country feeling sad knowing that millions didn’t have the freedom that he did.

References

  1. ^ video (www.youtube.com)
  2. ^ ChameleonJohn.com (chameleonjohn.com)

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