From Luxury Hotel To Refugee Camp To Luxury Hotel. The Incredible Story Of The Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel

In the centre of Tbilisi the capital city of Georgia sits the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel.

It was built in 1967 and was the best place to stay in Gerogia, it was the country’s finest hotel as it had an excellent location with great sweeping views of Tbilisi.

In the early part of the 1990’s after the collapse of the Iron Curtain leading to the break up of the old USSR, civil war broke out in Georgia.

Tbilisi was flooded by ethnic Georgian’s who were escaping the troubles in the disputed area of Abkhanzia in Western Georgia

More than 200,000 refugees flooded into Tbilisi and the Government were forced to deal with re housing their displaced citizens.

Many buildings in Tbilisi including the Hotel Iveria were taken over by the Government and used to home the refugees.

A thousand people ended up making the hotels 22 floors their home and they remained there for 10 years.

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Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the civil war and the death to Georgia’s tourism industry the hotel was lying vacant and unable to do business.

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The hotel fell into disrepair with broken windows patched up with polythene, plywood boarding used to make ‘extensions’ on the balconies and washing hanging all over the place.

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The once great hotel was looking pitiful and sad indeed.

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The journalist Paul Bradbury who visited the hotel in 2001, wrote:

“The carpets are long gone (now bare concrete), the walls boast bare plaster, the health centre on the ground floor I couldn’t visit as the stench of urine on the marble stairs forced me back upstairs. There was grass growing on the sixteenth floor.

On each floor there are small stalls selling vegetables, chocolate and, of course, alcohol. There is no work and the government pays seven dollars a month in benefits. Incredibly, on the third floor, there is a fully functioning hotel with Internet and fax services; on the ground floor there is a casino and also a restaurant that was hosting a wedding party as we passed.”

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After the Rose Revolution on 2003 and the resign of the then president Shevardnadze the Georgian Government decided to evacuate the hotel and gave $7000 per room to the residents who moved out.

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The hotel has since been fully refurbished and now has 249 rooms, several top restaurants and bars along with a conference centre.

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Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel today. Photo credit

The roof top swimming pool has been removed and a swanky fitness centre and spa has been built in its place.

RADISSON BLU IVERIA HOTEL in TBILISI, GEORGIA

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The hotel was reopened as the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel in 2009.

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Sources: Wikipedia / AtlasOscura / BuroHappold Engineering / Paul Bradbury / YouTube

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