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Since the fall of communism in , the number of lodging options has exploded. And the standards have risen dramatically. They not only had the best rooms in town, they often had the finest or at least most expensive restaurants and bars.
They could charge for the rooms and meals in hard currencies mainly, at the time, U. I love how the designers have dressed up the oversized columns and painted them in retro cream and green. The hotel is still operating. This nexus of party bosses, state-security types, local hustlers, and Western businessmen often lent the hotels a sleazy vibe. It was depressing but -- admittedly -- pretty absorbing theater.
Prague's infamous communist playground, the brutalist Hotel Praha, is pictured here at demolition in It was a magnificent eyesore, with one of the best '70s-style cocktail bars ever built. Guests included Leonid Brezhnev and much later in the s Tom Cruise. In the aftermath of the anticommunist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe in , these hotels have tended to fare poorly.
The state-run chains have mainly been broken up and sold off to private often foreign investors. Some of the bigger, better-placed properties are thriving, but many of these admittedly ugly high-rises are struggling to compete with a new generation of smaller hotels, boutiques, and private offerings marketed through sites like Airbnb. These photos show off some of the best and worst aspects of these weird demiworlds, where the spirit of the old communist regimes often lingered for years after the political structures that supported them had collapsed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the author's blog, which can be found here. The national flags flying over a futuristic fly-out above the front entrance is a hallmark of buildings from the s and '70s. The Continental chain assumed control of many of Romania's communist-era hotels and manages them to this day.