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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)

Why your holiday insurance might not cover you if things go wrong when you are away

Discount Holidays © Holiday enticed by cheap travel insurance deals could be left forking out if things go wrong. The pitfalls of budget deals can leave travellers short, with some insurers offering just 100 for valuables, while others impose huge excess fees that take a large chunk out of claims. And experts have warned travelling without adequate cover could lead to Brits paying thousands of pounds for stolen bags, travel delays and medical emergencies.

Earlier this month, a British holidaymaker died from suspected blood poisoning in Bulgaria1 days after his insurers refused to fly him home for life-saving treatment. Michael Doyle, 29, from Swindon, Wilts, took out travel insurance – but the policy did not cover being airlifted home.

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Some 40% of Brits admitted to going on a trip in the past without any insurance at all, with 20% of young holidaymakers (aged 18 to 24) admitting that they never buy travel cover. And last year one in five travelled abroad without any cover.

Excess charges were cited as the main reason for not purchasing insurance – as they make claiming not worthwhile- and others confessed their policies had expired without them realising. Bob Atkinson, travel expert for the comparison website TravelSupermarket.com, said: “Don’t risk your trip – it’s so important protect yourself. Good cover will safeguard you in case something goes wrong.”

We scoured the major travel insurance sites for single-trip cover for a 50-year-old couple travelling to Spain for seven days, leaving on Sunday August 21, to see whether low-cost insurance deals would meet their needs. And when we scrutinised the small print the shortfalls became clear. A policy with Columbus Direct was just 11.45 for a couple but the payout for lost or stolen cash was just 50.

Baggage cover was 1,000 but there were two exclusions. The single-item limit, – the most you can claim each possession – was just 100. Also, there was a cap on the amount you could claim for valuable items, again of 100, which is unlikely to cover jewellery, phones, cameras or tablets.

Our research also found how the amount of excess on policies makes it difficult to submit low-value claims. Argos’ 11.06 policy charges 250 excess, wiping a quarter off the 1,000 baggage limit. And Debenhams’ standard single-trip policy, costing 18.04, offers cover for lost or stolen money up to 200. But the excess is a whopping 175, leaving the claimant with just 25. In comparison, a 22.58 policy with Multitrip.com2 offered better protection, with 3,000 on offer for baggage, a maximum of 350 per personal item and 1,000 cover for personal cash – with just a 50 excess fee.

Getty Why Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Insurance Might Not Cover You If Things Go Wrong When You Are Away Travel insurance can end up being a headache

And while Saga’s option was more expensive, at 34.82, their deal offered more for lost, stolen or damaged baggage – with 5,000 available – and extra options such as money for delays and missed or replacement flights. And excess was just 70. Mr Atkinson said: “From delays and cancellations to suffering theft and lost baggage, travel insurance does more than just cover medical bills.

“A decent policy only costs a small amount more than the cheapest.

Buying the lowest-price deal is a false economy.

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“Cheaper lead-in prices provide a limited level of cover and may have higher levels of excess.

“They will also have a lower level of cover for things like medical costs and things such as cancellation may even be excluded.”

A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “It is important that people understand what we can do.

“We cannot pay medical bills so it is vital that you have a comprehensive travel insurance package for trips overseas.

“We also advise reading the small print to check that your policy covers you for everything you want to do on your holiday.”

References

  1. ^ a British holidaymaker died from suspected blood poisoning in Bulgaria (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Multitrip.com (www.multitrip.com)

New service offers travellers professional drone footage of their vacation

World1

August 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm

As more and more wanderlust-inducing drone footage from amazing destinations2 is shared on social media, a luxury travel company has launched a new service that will send an expert drone photographer along on your next trip to capture it all from above. Black Tomato has created the Drone the World service, which is designed to bring travellers to some of the world s most remote places and leave them with a unique souvenir an exclusive drone video of their vacation3. The UK and US based travel company has pulled together a network of professional drone cameramen and artistic directors4 who worked across various Blockbuster films such as Star Wars, James Bond and award-winning documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic .

One group has already taken a trip with Tim Browning, who has worked on Star Wars5, to film a family celebrating a landmark birthday off the coast of Myanmar6 where they explored mangrove swamps and deserted beaches. Travellers will have a pre-trip consultation with their drone photographer and editor to learn about the process and discuss what they want to capture in their footage, whether it s an event or a particular place they are visiting. Guests can travel with the guide for a certain portion of the trip, or the entire trip, but according to Bloomberg, prices start at $5500 per person for a weekend trip with Browning.

When the travellers get back home they will receive a featurette produced by their photographer As an exclusive memoir of their exclusive adventure and the chance to see where they travelled from a completely different angle .

Black Tomato co-founder Tom Marchant said in a statement that while people are more comfortable now with taking their own photographs7, bringing a photographer along allows clients to focus on the experience which is truly special instead of worrying about getting the right shot .

References

  1. ^ World (www.lonelyplanet.com)
  2. ^ drone footage from amazing destinations (www.lonelyplanet.com)
  3. ^ an exclusive drone video of their vacation (www.lonelyplanet.com)
  4. ^ network of professional drone cameramen and artistic directors (www.lonelyplanet.com)
  5. ^ has worked on Star Wars (www.lonelyplanet.com)
  6. ^ Myanmar (www.lonelyplanet.com)
  7. ^ more comfortable now with taking their own photographs (www.lonelyplanet.com)

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