The airplane hotel

If you have a hankering to join the mile-high club but you’re frightened of flying, Holland’s brand new Honecker Hotel could be just the ticket.

A vintage four-engine plane that’s been converted into a luxurious five-star hotel, it boasts a whirlpool, sauna, bar, kitchen, flat-screen televisions, wireless Internet – and it doesn’t even leave the ground.

Instead, the 1960s jet is perched on the edge of the runway at Teuge airport, just east of Amsterdam, so visitors can watch other planes take off and land while remaining on terra firme.

The hotel is a converted Ilyushin 18 – one of the Soviet Union’s most popular and widely-used airliners – and was a government aircraft for East German officials during its previous life.

Its 40-metre long suite costs €350 ($575) a night for two people, and can host as many as 15 for a conference meeting.

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Dutch entrepreneur Ben Thijssen said he discovered the scrapped Ilyushin Il-18 in the village of Harbke in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The plane had long been used as a restaurant in the town near where the border between East and West Germany used to run. The restaurant’s owner was retiring and wanted to sell it.

“I bought it immediately for its scrap value of €25,000, because I have waited for an opportunity like this for a long time,” said Thijssen, who first had the idea for an airliner-turned-luxury-suite seven years ago. “It took me years to find a suitable plane.”

Thijssen expects the popularity of his “Honecker Hotel” to soar. “The Dutch like crazy sleeping accommodations,” he said.