Is it a Bird or a Plane? No, it's a Super Hotel

Converted 1960s airplane is 'now boarding' guests for a luxury stay.

July 20, 2009, 9:59 AM

LONDON, July 20, 2009 — -- If you consider sleeping on an airplane to be uncomfortable, cramped and prone to temperature extremes, take a look at the conditions aboard this Ilyushin 18 airplane.

This particular aircraft at Amsterdam's Teuge airport is not cleared for takeoff. It has been turned into a 5-star hotel suite and will stay permanently parked at the end of a runway.

Dutch entrepreneur Ben Thijssen spent approximately $640,000 to convert the 131-foot long aircraft into a hotel with wings. He outfitted it with premium amenities including a whirlpool, infrared sauna, three flat-screen televisions, a kitchenette and wireless internet.

Staying in this unique suite will only run you approximately $500 per night and includes breakfast for two.

Thijssen told ABC that his Hotel Honecker has enjoyed enormous success since he opened it on a trial basis to work out the kinks. The hotel will be officially launched on Aug. 1.

"It's doing very well," said Thijssen. "I think it will be fully booked by the end of the year. We've received 50 reservations so far, and it is booked solid for two months now."

Thijssen is also marketing the suite as a private business center that can accommodate meetings of up to 15 people. He has provided "all the necessary technical facilities," according to the website,, and catering is provided.

Thijssen says part of the allure of this hotel is its proximity to excursions departing from the airfield such as helicopter rides, parachute jumping and amateur flying, which Thijssen says are all popular during the summer months.

Also, "the idea of sleeping in a plane is so unique to some people, they're booking without even seeing any pictures," said Thijssen.

If you think air noise will keep you up, Thijssen informed ABC that the airfield is closed at night, so you won't hear planes taking off and landing.

Thijssen says the popularity of the Hotel Honecker among German visitors is partly due to the plane's pedigree past.

The Ilyushin 18 is a four-engine Soviet aircraft that was made in 1960 for the East German leader, Erich Honecker. The plane served the top official, flying to such destinations as Cuba, Russia, Vietnam and China, until it was retired in 1986.

Shortly thereafter, the plane was turned into a restaurant and remained as such for 15 years, until Thijssen bought it in a village in Germany for $35,500 and turned it into the hotel.

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