Hooray! North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel is finally set to open its doors, and not a moment too soon. Work started in 1987 on the giant pyramid-shaped hotel, which is 105 storeys high and towers above the Pyongyang skyline at 330 metres.
Designed as a monument to North Korean strength, work stalled in the early 1990s when the fall of the Soviet Union gave the government a serious case of cash flow collywobbles.
It has stood forlorn ever since, a depressing concrete shell without windows. Think downtown Sandyford – only without the creepy sheathing.
Dubbed the “Hotel of Doom”, it has lingered in the public consciousness like a bad smell, going on to be voted Worst Building in the History of Mankind by Esquire magazine in 2008. Among its other unwanted accolades is its record as the world’s tallest unoccupied building.
The good news for Pyongyangers is that the future finally looks bright for the Ryugyong. Thanks to an injection of cash from Orascom Telecom, an Egyptian company which runs a mobile phone network there, the building is about to be completed. German hotel management group Kempinski has been lined up to run it.
While the chances of North Korea being up near the top of your list of places to visit may be slim, there is still one very good reason why its completion might bring some cheer to people in this neck of the woods.
If they can revitalise a monolithic eyesore like the Hotel of Doom, there’s surely some hope for the old Dublin Sports Hotel in Kilternan.
Anyone got a number for Orascom?