7 former dictators’ palaces to spend a night in

Villa Feltrinelli Hotel

Would you like to sleep in a dictator’s former palace? Here are 7 hotels where famous dictators have lived.

Dictators are the worst heads of state. To define it correctly, a dictator wields the political power of a country alone, with no separation of powers. For all his faults, there’s one thing a tyrant does best: he’s a bon vivant. And while gold and champagne flow freely and famous paintings adorn the walls, the people are often impoverished. But what happens to the fancy palace of a ruthless despot after he’s been overthrown? It’s turned into a hotel, of course. At least, here are 7 cases that are or have been.

JW Marriott Grand Hotel in Bucharest, Romania

JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel

Credit – facebook.com/JWMarriottBucharest

Dictator: Nicolae Ceaușescu

Although Ceauşescu was executed before he could stay in this huge building, Marriott snapped it up 10 years after his death to turn the grand mansion into a 400-room hotel. It is built behind the Palace of Parliament (formerly known as the « House of the People »), which has 1100 rooms spread over 12 floors, a 100-meter-long hall and four underground levels, plus a huge nuclear bunker. The5-star Marriot Hotel is therefore smaller, but still imposing.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden Resort, Germany

Intercontinental Resort Berchtesgaden

Credit – hotelscombined.com

Dictator: Hitler

With the aim of reconnecting the region with its 19th century (pre-Nazi) tradition, the land that once housed Hitler’s mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps was transformed into a 138-room luxury hotel in 2005. It is located near Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus), which you can see from a nearby mountain top.

Stalin’s Villa, Sochi, Russia

Villa Datcha Staline Sotchi

Credit – businessinsider.com.au

Dictator: Joseph Stalin

Stalin was so attracted by Sochi’s subtropical climate, lush forests and sea views (remember this year’s Winter Olympics?), that he tried to turn the city into an upscale resort. Also known as the « Green Grove », Stalin’s dacha was built in 1936. Now a museum, it features original furniture, a chess set and a billiard table, as well as a life-size (1m67) wax doll of the dictator. The on-site restaurant also serves local favorites.

Hotel Vila Bled, Slovenia

Hotel Vila Bled

Credit – facebook.com/vilabled

Dictator: Josip Broz Tito

If there’s one thing dictators seem to have in common (apart from being dictators), it’s a penchant for lakes. Known as the « benevolent » dictator, Tito began spending time at this summer residence on Lake Bled in the 1950s. It became a luxury hotel and spa in the 1980s.

Saint Katharine’s (Parmoor House), Henley-on-Thames, England

St. Katharine's, Parmoor

Credit – srpf.org.uk

Dictator: Zog I

When King Zog was exiled from Albania after Mussolini invaded the country in 1939, he moved into St. Katharine’s House (then known as Parmoor House) with his Hungarian wife and Queen of Albania Geraldine Apponyi. In 1946, it was transformed into a religious retreat open to people of all faiths. Set in picturesque 5-hectare parkland teeming with wildlife, the house (which once belonged to the Templar Order) can accommodate up to 24 guests.

Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Gargnano, Italy

Villa Feltrinelli Hotel

Credit – germanblogs.de

Dictator: Benito Mussolini

Over 30,000 m² of paradise on Lake Garda, no wonder Mussolini took this house by military force from the Feltrinelli family in 1943. It was returned to the family after the Second World War and became a luxury hotel (with an old-fashioned gelateria ) in the 1990s.

Al-Hillah Presidential Palace, Hilla, Iraq

Palais présidentiel Al Hilla, Irak

Wikimedia – James Matise

Dictator: Saddam Hussein

Sure, it might not be the best time to spend a family vacation in Iraq, but if you were to go, you’d at least be able to say you slept in the palace of a very recent dictator. What’s more, you can join the throngs of tourists who visit the palace every day to see, among other things, Saddam Hussein’s date tree: surrounded by a concrete wall, the fruit was out of reach of everyone but him.

Is sleeping in these places to your taste?