Lonely Planet Writer

After 30 years lying idle, is North Korea’s infamous Hotel of Doom finally going to open?

Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might finally open, although construction began in 1987 and the hotel has yet to usher any guests through its doors. Lights have recently come on inside the 3000-room hotel, widely nicknamed the “Hotel of Doom,” fuelling speculation that it might open just in time to celebrate its 30th birthday.

Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Gavin Korea
Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Gavin Korea

Construction began in 1987 on the 105-storey pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Pyongyang at a reported cost of £470 /$591,930 million. It was supposed to be completed in June 1989 for the World Festival of Youth and Students, and was due to be a mixed-use building that included revolving restaurants, casinos and nightclubs. However, construction was halted in 1992 because North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union, its leading benefactor.

Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Benoit Cappronnier
Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Benoit Cappronnier

Construction then resumed in 2008 where windows were added, and the exterior was completed in 2011. It was planned to open the hotel in 2012, the centenary of former leader Kim II-sung’s birth. That didn’t happen, but the following year the regime entered talks with a developer who had signalled interest in opening a small luxury hotel at the top of the building.

Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Till Mosler
Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Till Mosler

Again, this didn’t come to pass and the building has remained unfinished, but local media are now reporting that the Egyptian development company Orascom recently flew in to discuss the future of the hotel. Lights have been seen on in the building, prompting speculation that leader Kim Jong-un is finally planning to make the hotel operational.

Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Nick Ledger
Speculation is mounting that North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel might be finally opening. Image: Nick Ledger

With the views it will afford over the skyline, we reckon the Ryugyong Hotel will be an amazing place to stay if it finally fulfils its destiny as a jewel in the North Korean tourism crown.