With 3000 rooms and 105 floors, it’s the world’s largest hotel – and it might celebrate its 30th birthday next year by finally opening for business

It appears North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un may be attempting to revive his infamous "Hotel of Doom" - officially titled the Ryugyong Hotel.

The 3,000 room, 105 floor monstrosity began construction in Pyongyang in 1987 by Kim Il-sung, as an attempt to improve tourism, the Daily Mail reports.

It was abandoned in 1992, and has not been improved upon since 2011 when it was coated in $197 million glass panes, and added a telecommunications mast.

Lights were spotted illuminating the top floors of the pyramid-shaped building, and Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris was reportedly flown in to "discuss the future" of the hotel, according to the Daily Star.


Mr Sawiris is also the CEO of Orascom, who signed on as developers in 2008 after reportedly signing a US$400 million deal to establish a mobile phone network in North Korea.

The hotel has appeared doomed from the start, and intended to be open two years after construction in an attempt to snub South Korea after they hosted the Olympics in 1988.
Esquire magazine described it as "the worst building in the history of mankind".

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.

The Ryugyong Hotel, commonly referred to as the 'Hotel of Doom'. Photo / Getty Images
The Ryugyong Hotel, commonly referred to as the 'Hotel of Doom'. Photo / Getty Images

It was an economic disaster for North Korea and provoked a devastating famine that killed up to 3.5 million people.

An inspection by a European delegation in the 1990's concluded that the shell was irreparable and it should be torn down because of its poor-quality concrete and crooked elevator shafts.

The Ryugyong towers over crumbling apartment blocks in Pyongyang, where only the elite can live, but people scrape by on government-set salaries equivalent to less than $12 a week.

It is a city so poor it cannot light its streets or organise enough electricity for its daily life.

Yet when the basic structure of the Ryugyong Hotel was built in the late 1980's, it cost the nation an estimated $837 million, which was equivalent to two per cent of North Korea's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at that time.

 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, front left, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, front left, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju. Photo / AP

In 2011, the World Food Programme said six million of North Korea's 24 million people were at risk as the country faced its worst food shortages for more than a decade.


In a transcript of a rare speech by Kim Jong-Un seen by The Mail on Sunday, he spoke in April of his desire to turn the capital into "a majestic and picturesque world-class city".

"If we beautify the country by building up Pyongyang as an example and modelling the local cities on it, we can turn the whole country into a socialist paradise," the leader said.

The Ryugyong Hotel, rising two-and-a-half times higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza, is in some respects a memorial to North Korea's modern-day pharaohs.

Although North Korea is officially atheist, the two Kims are treated as deities - there are an estimated 37,000 statues to Kim Il-Sung alone.

Citizens suspected of saying anything disrespectful about the Kims or their regime can swiftly end up in one of the country's vast network of secret camps that are said to hold around 150,000 political prisoners.