January 05, 2012

Stay in a Luxury Aircraft Carrier Hotel

International luxury hotels are popping up on the horizon in China faster than ever, but affluent Chinese travelers have indicated a new desire for accommodation -- somewhere more historic, alternative and … communist.

A former Soviet aircraft carrier under renovation in Tianjin is set to become China's first ex-naval hotel in 2012.

Running dogs rejoice!

US$15 million for an aircraft carrier hotel

The future luxury hotel is part of Binhai Aircraft, an 80,000-square-meter military theme park opened in 2004 in east Tianjin. The government-supported park is built on and around a retired Kiev-class Soviet aircraft carrier, named Kiev (基辅号), which was sold to China in 1996.

The park’s parent company is reported to have spent an estimated US$15 million on the transformation and finished the refitting of three presidential suites last August. The largest suite occupies 400 square meters.

Although Chinese and international media have reported the opening of the hotel, according to Binhai Aircraft’s vice marketing manager, Liu, the majority of the 148 hotel rooms aren't finished. The company plans to open the hotel to the public sometime in 2012.

Liu noted that the company receives requests every year from visitors hoping to stay overnight on the Kiev, especially in the cabins in which sailors and officers once slept.

“The hotel will serve as a unique experience for a high-end clientele,” Liu told us. “It will not be ranked by stars, nor will it have a swimming pool or a gym.”

Aircraft carrier restaurant

While the aircraft carrier hotel has yet to welcome guests, Binhai Aircraft soft-opened the hotel’s restaurant on December 22, 2011, calling it “the world’s first Western restaurant on an aircraft carrier.”

Decked out in black, green and white, the 30-seat restaurant pays tribute to the Kiev’s heritage by serving mostly Russian dishes.

The aircraft carrier restaurant is now receiving guests by appointment.

More Soviet aircraft carriers in China

Two decades after the crumbling of the Soviet Union, China has managed to transform its neighbor’s once-formidable military machinery into popular tourist attractions.

China has purchased three of the ex-Soviet Union’s most powerful aircraft carriers.

One of them nearly became a casino near Macau. The other two have been repurposed as military theme parks, one in Shenzhen and the other, Kiev, in Tianjin.

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