Red Corner: The Joys of Soviet Hotels

Part of the fun of traveling through the former Soviet Union is that so much of it remains rough around the edges. The typical tourist experience one encounters in Paris, for example is so perfectly coifed and professionally managed that it can actually be quite boring. Not so in the former Soviet Union.

Ohio University professor David Mould recently experienced this for himself when he checked into Motel Hell in Djalalabad, southern Kyrgyzstan. $10 bought him a “luxury” room and all the discomfort of mind associated with the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” His humorous account of the electricity being shut off for the night at 8:30 pm (as opposed to the 10pm time the front desk told him) and eating at the hotel’s enticing, Buffet No. 37 is well worth the read.

Mould, who has had many such experiences in the former Soviet Union, calls it Indoor Camping. I’ve been there myself and disagree; camping is much more luxurious. I’d take a tent in the mountains over a Soviet era hotel any day.