The Yanggakdo Hotel, built in 1986 and located on Yanggak Island, is the signature tourist hotel of the DPRK’s capital of Pyongyang. Sporting 47 floors and 1001 rooms, the Yanggakdo is one of the country’s biggest and most luxurious tourist hotels, and features a plethora of facilities to keep its guests happy and relaxed. The staff, too, are extremely professional and friendly, and are always on hand to assist with any inquiries that guests may have.
You’ll not want for diversion when staying at the Yanggakdo. The hotel boasts a swimming pool, sauna with massage facilities, casino, pool table rooms, private karaoke rooms, restaurants and table tennis facilities. Taking your Korean guides for a game of bowling in the evening is a great way to get to know them and find out about their lives and Korean culture.
One of the hotel highlights is, without a doubt, the revolving restaurant on the 47th floor. The Koreans are unaccountably fond of revolving restaurants, and it’s easy to see why! The ‘Gak’s revolving restaurant provides 306-degree panoramic views of Pyongyang, and when not hanging out in the bowling alley, it’s a good idea to head up here for a beer and some great scenic views of Pyongyang by night.
The lobby also has a bar and an aquarium featuring the hotel’s longest-staying guest — a sea turtle!
Shopping in the Yanggakdo
Despite being a hotel, the ‘Gak doesn’t want for those who need to scratch their retail itch. There is a bookshop located in the lobby which overcomes its bibliocentric nature to offer a variety of Korean DVDs (subtitled in the language of your choice, of course). Souvenirs such as pins and posters are also available, and the bookshop even sells books. Here you can find the musings and anecdotes of the various Kims, as well as a good number of books explaining and extolling the virtues of North Korean political philosophy.
There is even a tailor on the third floor of the hotel, which in addition to making a variety of bespoke items of the clothing, can tailor you a full-on Korean-style jumpsuit! Be sure to place your order ASAP (preferably the day you arrive) to ensure that it’s ready before you leave.
There’s even a barber’s, so you can get that authentic North Korean haircut you’ve always hankered for.
The Yanggakdo’s rooms are clean and spacious, and offer great views of the city. They’re fully furnished and air-conditioned and have all the accoutrements you might expect of a high-end hotel elsewhere in the room: slippers, complimentary toiletries, towels, and TVs. The TVs even have a few international channels, such as the BBC World Service.
A word should be spared for the lifts in the Yanggakdo (and indeed, any North Korean hotel): they are not exactly on the swift side, and you may find yourself waiting for several minutes before one turns up. When meeting your guides in the morning, you should probably give it ten minutes rather than scrambling downstairs with a couple of minutes to spare.
There are a number of restaurants in the hotel, including a Chinese one. Breakfast is buffet-style and located on the ground floor; it features a full spread of Korean and Western food, including yoghurt, muesli and omelettes for those of you not wanting to have breakfast kimchi.
Check out the Yanggakdo yourself on a trip to the DPRK!.