Have you ever visited a forgotten place amid ruins and overgrown creepers and imagined what it would have looked like during the days of its former glory? Or perhaps felt the urge to explore a decaying structure and find out what lies within its rickety walls? Curiosity is an inherent part of our nature, and it often takes us on less travelled paths. While the allure of unexplored wilderness interests many, some are drawn to derelict buildings in urban areas. Among these intriguing properties are abandoned hotels, once bustling with guests, now shrouded in mystery and wonder.
It is hard to believe that these hotels that were once opulent with expansive swimming pools, lush golf courses, in-house movie theatres, casinos and gorgeous chandeliers and served gourmet cuisines in bespoke dining halls are nothing more than dilapidated structures now. Some of them have been declared haunted by locals as well. Yet, it is these stark transformations that capture our attention and beckon us to delve into their histories.
From the popular Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas to the GOT famed Hotel Belvedere in Croatia, we have compiled a list of some abandoned hotels that were once frequented by former who’s who of Hollywood and the business world.
Abandoned hotels: What are they exactly?
Abandoned hotels are derelict properties that were once luxurious and functioning but are now in a state of abeyance or reduced to ruins. Their current condition is a consequence of either a war, legal dispute or bankruptcy declared by the property owners. While some have been termed cursed, others have become ideal sites to shoot films and series.
Here are some of the famous abandoned hotels in the world
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- Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas
- Haludovo Palace Hotel, Krk, Croatia
- Hotel Belvédère du Rayon Vert, Cerbère, France
- Maya Hotel, Kobe, Japan
- Polissya Hotel, Pripyat, Ukraine
- Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Sheraton Rarotonga, Cook Islands
- Hotel Belvedere, Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Ghost Palace Hotel, Bali, Indonesia
- Igloo City, Alaska
- Hotel Renakse, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea
- El Hotel del Salto, Colombia
- Varosha, Famagusta, Cyprus
One of the most popular abandoned hotels in the world, Baker Hotel will no longer be forsaken, as it is expected to open again in 2025. According to various reports, its restoration is ongoing, but it was desolated for a long time.
Known as the ‘Grand Lady’ of Mineral Wells City, it was opened by a wealthy businessman, TB Baker, in 1929.
With top-class amenities such as the first Olympic-sized hotel swimming pool, it used to attract celebrated people, including former US President Lyndon Johnson, American actress Judy Garland, comedy group ‘The Three Stooges’, and even criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde.
Although it survived the Great Depression, it shut down in 1972. However, the buzz around its restoration started in 2019.
How to reach: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport is the nearest airport, 116 km away
(Image credit: Barna Tanko/Shutterstock)
A hotel that was once believed to have filled its swimming pool with champagne looks completely neglected now. According to Insider, the founder of Penthouse magazine Bob Guccione invested USD 45 million to build a casino at the resort. However, the casino started facing financial crunches within a year of opening. Despite this, the hotel kept hosting guests until the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995) broke out.
Known to offer gourmet cuisines and lavish facilities once, this hotel on Krk island underwent a transformation in 1992 when it became home to refugees. Unfortunately, during this period, many valuable items were reported stolen. Although the hotel’s foundation still remains intact, there are no plans to renovate it.
How to reach: Rijeka International Airport is the nearest airport, about 15 km away
(Image credit: xbrchx/Shutterstock )
Resembling the shape of a ship, Hotel Belvédère du Rayon Vert was once a high-end place for travellers to spend the night before boarding a train at an international railway station in Cerbère, located on the Franco-Spanish border.
This hotel, constructed between 1928 and 1932, featured a movie theatre and a rooftop tennis court overlooking the Iberian Sea. However, the civil war in Spain resulted in the border closure with France, which dwindled the number of guests for the hotel, throwing it into financial distress.
The building was listed as a historical monument in 1987, and since 2014, some portions have been renovated and offered as apartments.
How to reach: Aéroport Sud de France Perpignan is the nearest airport, about 56 km away
(Image credit: Joan_Bautista/Shutterstock)
Featuring majestic Western Art Deco architecture, this once-opulent hotel looks eerie amid the surrounding wilderness now. The isolated hotel is so secluded that one needs to take a cable car to reach this place or a difficult hiking path to witness the rustic ruins.
Constructed in 1929, the Maya Hotel sits on Mount Maya in Japan and has been renovated and abandoned many times. It was World War II that destroyed it first. It was reworked in 1961 and 1974, but a typhoon in 1967 and an earthquake in 1995 (Great Awaji Earthquake) brought it down to shambles again.
It is now the most iconic haikyo (abandoned place) in Japan. It is often used as a filming location for music videos. To witness this ‘Queen of Ruins’ on foot, disembark at Rokko railway station. From there, walk for ten minutes towards Nadamaruyama Park before starting your hike uphill. Keep in mind the trail is tough and unmarked, so exercise caution and take necessary precautions.
How to reach: Osaka’s Kansai Airport is the nearest to Kobe, about 68 km away
(Image credit: Ka23 13/CC BY-SA 4.0/ Wikimedia Commons)
Built in the 1970s, Polissya Hotel in Pripyat was specially constructed for delegations visiting Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and its surrounding areas, but it was abandoned after a radioactive release at the power station in 1986. It was said to be much bigger than the Hiroshima tragedy and led to the evacuation of the Ukrainian city.
If you visit this city and the site, you can notice that time has stopped there — tattered pillows on beds and unwashed dishes in the sink. About 35,000 people had to vacate the town owing to the tragedy, and it is still not fit to live due to the lingering effects of the radiation.
The hotel’s website mentions that it housed officials during the asset liquidation process after the disaster and hosted former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the same year.
Since the incident, the hotel has garnered attention from mainstream media and has been featured in the video game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
How to reach: Boryspil International Airport (KBP) is nearest to Pripyat, about 187 km away
(Image credit: Viktor Osipenko/ Shutterstock)
A posh hotel to have hosted celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley met its end in 2016 after it filed for bankruptcy. The hotel was destroyed in a controlled implosion carried out to make way for the expansion of a convention centre.
Opened in 1955, this iconic establishment was the first high-rise resort of its kind in Las Vegas. It also featured in notable films such as Casino (1995), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and The Hangover (2009) in its 60-year run on the Las Vegas strip.
However, it started dwindling down owing to financial issues just three months after it opened, and the owners filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Five years later, the hotel was officially closed.
The implosion, which was covered live by the news studios, “was done in a party-filled atmosphere and a happy mood with a fireworks show and a VIP area that served live music, food, drinks and showgirls who entertained the viewers before the fateful event,” according to the website of Riviera Hotel.
How to reach: McCarran International Airport (LAS) is the nearest airport, about six km away
(Image credit: Atomazul/Shutterstock)
This hotel came into existence in 1987 after a deal between the Cook Islands Government and an Italian bank. However, it was abandoned on the brink of completion due to alleged mafia involvement and money laundering in Italy.
The island government went bankrupt with a loan of about USD 120 million, mentions a Guardian report. Sheraton Rarotonga was supposed to be the first five-star resort on the Cook Islands, but it is nothing more than a dilapidated structure now.
Mysteriously enough, numerous attempts to renovate it have failed, leaving it to be termed ‘cursed.’
How to reach: Rarotonga International Airport (RAR / NCRG) is the nearest to Cook Islands, about six km away
(Image credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)
Remember the battle between Prince Oberyn and The Mountain in season 4 of Game of Thrones (2011-2019)? It was shot at one of the hotel’s decks.
This luxury hotel was built in Dubrovnik in 1985 and had its own helipad and boat dock along with 200 rooms. However, the five-star property was reduced to dust during the war of independence in Croatia in 1991, and it served as a shelter for refugees from then on during the tumultuous period.
After the war, it was reported that the hotel would be replaced by a new establishment, but nothing materialised in the subsequent years.
If you visit this desolate place, you will experience the breathtaking views from its rooftop and can imagine the grandeur that it once held.
How to reach: Dubrovnik Airport is the nearest airport, about 23 km away
(Image credit: Donatas Dabravolskas/Shutterstock)
PI Bedugul Taman Rekreasi Hotel and Resort, commonly called Ghost Palace Hotel, is nestled in the Bedugul mountains in Bali. Covered with creepers and moss now, various stories regarding its current state are afloat.
According to a 2017 report by Daily Mail, “Some believe that the hotel is linked to Indonesian royalty, while others claim that former Indonesian President Suharto’s son Tommy was behind the construction, but that after his jailing in 2002 the project collapsed.”
It is believed to have been left abandoned on the same day it opened in the 1990s. Many people blame corrupt practices behind its derelict state, while many accounts suggest a supernatural presence, especially of the workers who died there.
How to reach: Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali is the nearest airport, about 52 km away
(Image credit: Vangelly/Shutterstock)
This igloo-shaped hotel’s construction in Alaska‘s Cantwell town started in 1970 but was never completed due to building code violations at the time. It is said that the structure is so massive that it can be spotted from an aircraft thousands of feet above the ground, yet its interior remains unfinished.
With mighty Alaskan mountains in the backdrop, it is now frequented by wild animals and vandals. You can easily spot this forsaken structure while travelling along Alaska’s George Parks Highway.
How to reach: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is the nearest airport, 313 km away
(Image credit: Patrick T Fallon/AFP)
With its once-exquisite French architecture still visible through its rugged walls, Phnom Penh’s Hotel Renakse stands just opposite the Royal Palace at the waterfront in Tonle Sap, Cambodia.
Reading Hotel R-nak-e now, with two of its alphabets fallen off its cracked walls, this abandoned hotel was once owned by the Cambodian People’s Party.
In an act of alleged termination of the contract in 2008, it was sold to a private development company, which had connections with the ruling party. The residents of Phnom Penh tried saving it from its fate but were unsuccessful.
How to reach: Phnom Penh International Airport is the nearest airport, about 11 km away
(Image credit: John S Lander/LightRocket/Getty Images)
This distinct triangular-shaped hotel with 105 floors and about 3,000 rooms was constructed to be the tallest hotel in the world. However, it is nothing less than a fancy derelict structure now.
News related to a new display at its entrance with its name and logo was shared by a Twitter (now X) user in 2019, but nothing has materialised so far.
Though the construction of this high-end hotel as a sign of honour to its leader, Kim II-sung, began in 1987, it remains unfinished with unfulfilled dreams of being equipped with casinos and nightclubs.
How to reach: Pyongyang Sunan International Airport is the nearest airport, about 23 km away
(Image credit: Martin Cígler/ CC BY-SA 3.0/ Wikimedia Commons)
Known for its grand architecture and breathtaking location once, El Hotel del Salto, located in the southwest of Colombia, is enveloped with haunted stories now.
Also called ‘The Mansion of Tequendama Falls’ owing to its location near the beautiful waterfall on the Bogota River, it was constructed in 1928 for Colombian aristocrats. However, it is currently a Museum of Biodiversity and Culture, according to reports.
Interestingly, in 1950, it was to be redeveloped into a hotel with 18 floors, but the construction couldn’t begin. It continued functioning but started to rot gradually due to the contamination of the river.
It was sometime around 1990 that it closed and has been abandoned since then.
How to reach: El Dorado International Airport is the nearest airport, about 37 km away
(Image credit: Petruss/CC BY-SA 3.0/ Wikimedia Commons)
Reportedly visited by biggies like Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot once, the former bustling resort area of Varosha in Cyprus’ Famagusta city is totally abandoned now.
In 1974, when Turkey took over the northern part of Cyprus, Varosha was vacated by the residents after massive bloodshed on the streets.
According to a June 2023 report by Insider, Varosha saw a footfall of about 700,000 tourists every year. However, after the invasion, the Turkish military blocked and fenced it.
Although a few places reopened in 2020, it was unable to flourish again. It is nothing more than an eerily desolate place now.
Some opulent hotels here that glistened decades ago included The Argo, Grecian, Asterias, Florida and King George.
How to reach: Ercan Airport is the nearest airport, about 54 km away
(Image credit: Ballantyne108/ CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons )
(Main and featured image credit: DM-Grafix.de/Shutterstock)
This story first appeared here.
Frequently Asked Questions
-Why do hotels become abandoned?
Some hotels are abandoned due to many reasons including land disputes, bankruptcy, natural calamities, fire accidents and other tragedies.
-What are abandoned hotels used for?
Abandoned hotels are often used to shoot horror or thriller films and series.
-Can photographers and urban explorers visit abandoned hotels?
Yes, anyone, including a photographer and an explorer, who is interested can visit abandoned hotels.
-Are there any tours or organised visits to abandoned hotels?
Ghost tourism includes tours or organised visits to haunted places but not necessarily abandoned hotels, as all such properties need not be haunted.
-Can abandoned hotels be visited by individuals?
Yes, abandoned hotels can be visited by individuals if they haven’t been sealed owing to disputes.