Visting & Tips
Hyangsan Hotel: Introduction
The Hyangsan Hotel is one of North Korea’s best hotels and is often referred to as a '7-Star' hotel (something of a local joke, but serious in that it is a byword for the higher standards available in North Korea)
The hotel was built in 1986 and used to be the standard hotel for tourists to stay at in the area until around 2009/2010 when it was completely renovated.
When it reopened the cost to stay here increased significantly to match its new hotel rating, so most tourists visiting the area now either stay at either the nearby Chongchon Hotel in the town of Hyangsan or Huichon Hotel further away in Chagang Province.
At the time of writing the cost to stay at this hotel was an extra 100 EUR per person per night.
Hyangsan Hotel: Location
The hotel is nestled in a beautiful valley in the Mt Myohyang mountain range.
It is on the road that leads to the International Friendship Exhibition, Pohyon Buddhist Temple and local hiking trails.
Hyangsan Hotel: Exterior
The hotel is 15 stories tall and one of North Korea’s most recognisable buildings due to its unique pyramidal design and mountain location.
Every room in the hotel has its own private balcony and like many hotels in North Korea the hotel has a revolving restaurant perched on top, albeit a smaller one.
Hyangsan Hotel: Interior
As mentioned, the hotel was renovated ten years ago (at the time of writing), but the interior is in great condition and still looks very fresh.
It has 228 rooms in total comprising both standard rooms and suites.
Rooms are very well equipped with the following;
- Comfortable western style beds
- Flat screen television with a range of both local and international channels
- Fridge mini bar (not included in cost)
- Coffee table and chairs
- Private balcony
- Bathroom with separate bath tub and shower
- Heated flooring
- Air Conditioning
- Ethernet internet connection (you may need to request it be switched on for you, cost TBC)
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- The hotel’s suites also add a lounge room and kitchen to the list
Electricity is reliable and hot water is available 24 hours.
Hyangsan Hotel Room Interior #1 - very comfortable beds!
Hyangsan Hotel Room Interior #2
Hyangsan Hotel mini bar - ensure to pay before leaving
The hotel itself is equipped with several facilities available for guests, but do be aware that the fees for using them are higher compared to other North Korean hotels.
- 25 meter Swimming pool, $15 USD
- Spa and sauna
- Billiards tables
- Table Tennis, $8 USD
- Karaoke Room, $20 USD
- Souvenir Shop
- Coffee shop
- Two bars featuring a range of imported wines and spirits
- Multiple restaurants
- Beauty salon
- Hair dresser
- Dance hall
The food served at the restaurants here is very good (best bread in North Korea) and it’s common to have lunch here before hiking Mt. Myohyang even if you’re not staying overnight at this hotel.
Hyangsan Hotel has four elevators that all work very well, so you will have no trouble moving around the hotel.
Hyangsan Hotel: Visting & Tips
- The hotel has a concierge whose job it is to assist guests and ensure they are looked after – the current concierge was trained at Tourism College in Pyongyang where many of the local guides did their training.
- With the exception of beer, the cost for items and services here are much higher than other hotels in North Korea so do ensure to confirm the cost before committing
- The toiletries are from the Shangri-la Hotel chain and are included in the cost, but it’s not known how they get them. Some people do refer to it as the Shangri-la Hotel, but it certainly isn’t owned by them nor do they have any involvement!
- The small revolving restaurant is not always open to tourists
- The coffee shop can do all sorts of speciality coffees, so it’s a great chance for a Cappuccino, macchiato or even a simple Americano if you are staying or stopping by here.
Hyangsan Hotel: Further Information
- Previously the Hyangsan Hotel had been known by many tourists as the ‘Overlook’ Hotel after the haunted building in The Shining.
- The Hyangsan Hotel (pre-renovation) was well known for its doors opening outwards (counter-intuitively), hypnotic wallpaper, spooky music floating along deserted corridors, a waterfall in the lobby with models of deer frolicking in them, a Karaoke room with the most amazing acoustics making anyone at all sound good and with a very odd 20 song selection of English tracks. It was, simply put, an amazing place to stay and the favourite hotel of almost anyone who had toured around North Korea.
- In his memoir of 7 years spent in North Korea as a polisher for the Foreign Languages Publishing House ‘Comrades and Strangers’ Michael Harrold writes of a time in the early 1990s when he stayed at the hotel and the restaurant caught fire. He was instrumental in extinguishing the blaze and saving the greatest hotel in the country. He mentions being thanked for his efforts, but then tracked down the next day to pay for the two beers that had been overlooked from the bill in the rush to put out the fire!
- This hotel makes a memorable appearance in the novel ‘A Corpse in the Koryo’ by James Church (a pen name for an anonymous writer). There are some excellent details of the hotel mentioned in this book such as the lifts having a carpet with the specific day of the week written on it. But having a chase scene on the 13th floor (right at the top of the pyramid) is not too convincing, given that by this point the building has tapered to a very small point. Still an excellent book though!
- It is one of the most impressive buildings and location in North Korea - just about every tour group that passes the hotel on their way to the local attractions asks gleefully if this is the hotel they’ll be staying at that night.
An old photo of the Hyangsan Hotel
The Hyangsan Hotel before renovations
The old Hyangsan Hotel fish pool - pick your dinner!
Another shot of the Hyangsan Hotel lobby before renovations, looking towards the original bar
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