NVA Hotel, Frauenwald

This ambitious concrete carbuncle was originally created in 1976 as a vacation spot for high-ranking officers in East Germany’s National People’s Army, but it wasn’t long before the civil servants got hold of it and turned it into a holiday hotel for the privileged top 10k; ministers, officers, and assorted communist henchmen from Cottbus to Cuba, including elite members of the Staatssicherheit. Included in the grand design was a 25m swimming pool, bowling alley, cinema, gymnasium, doctor’s surgery, hairdresser and of course a library. An average stay consisted of 13 days and carried an EVP of 65.- Mark full-board.

Since 1990 the building has been standing empty. Attempts by a private investor to rejuvenate the resort and open for business once again came to nought when guests failed to arrive, and apart from a brief respite as a home for asylum seekers the only visitors have been local kids, paintballers, and the occasional dereliction tourist. Talking of which, I’ve made two visits here now and the rate of vandalism / decay is astonishing. After my first check-in I had the pleasure of bumping into a slightly eccentric fellow in his early 50s who comes here every day to go up one stairwell and down the other. He talked non-stop for half an hour of what the place was like to work in and the kinds of things that the guests got up to, and I wish I’d paid more attention at the time.

Another cause for regret is not having done my homework sooner, because hidden in the woods nearby is said to be a massive bunker, constructed at the same time as the hotel, which acted as a partial decoy for building materials and construction noise. Hindsight, eh?