Once upon a time it was a thriving resort hotel in a prime location on the breathtaking Bay of Kotor. Nowadays, the Hotel Fjord stands abandoned. To a visitor, it’s a spooky relic of the time when Montenegro was part of the former Yugoslavia. But to local residents, it is also a symbol of something else: the unkept promises of a foreign owner to restore the hotel to its former glory.
I first learned of the Hotel Fjord from blogger “Kami and the Rest of the World.” After reading her post on Alternative Kotor, I put it on the must-do list for my trip to Montenegro. Would it be hard to find? Would guards keep me away, demand a bribe or confiscate my camera?
It turned out not to be complicated at all. I literally stumbled across the Hotel Fjord on my first evening in Kotor. Walking back to my rental apartment after dinner, I noticed the sign and the dilapidated fence. There were no “keep out” signs. In fact, local residents use the once-grand entrance as a parking lot. The numerous gaping holes in the fence beckoned me to come closer.
According to Kami, the five star-resort in the brutalism style was designed by a noted Bosnian architect. Guests in 155 rooms could enjoy restaurants, bars, a conference center and an indoor swimming pool. It opened in 1986.
By 2005, war in the Balkans had taken its toll on tourism and the Hotel Fjord closed its doors. The concrete walls have since been stripped bare. Wiring and elevator equipment are long gone.
Weirdly, the clay tennis court seemed to be maintained in good condition and was hosting a lively doubles match at the time of my visit.
Local graffiti “artists” have used the naked concrete walls as a canvas.
I wandered the hallways, being careful to step around the broken glass from the smashed-in windows. I imagined honeymooners from the Yugoslavia times enjoying the rooms and balconies. Weary socialist workers on holiday, admiring the views of the Kotor Bay and the Old Town. And children running down the hallways that still have traces of faded blue carpeting.
Renovating this dinosaur will be quite a feat. Preservtion of brutalist architecture aside, the most practical plan may be to just destroy it and start over with a modern hotel on this prime real estate. A European friend of mine is fond of saying that there is no jackhammer capable of destroying Yugoslavian concrete. The existing layout, with its tiny, dark rooms and dark bathrooms, doesn’t really lend itself to the luxury standards expected by visitors in the present day.
Governments come and go. Wars begin and end. But some things were built to last, for better or worse. The Hotel Fjord is, quite possibly, one of them.
Stranger Danger: As I visited the Hotel Fjord, I observed best practices for reporting on private property and was prepared to leave the instant I was asked to do so. If I had seen anyone in authority, I would have asked for permission to look around. There didn’t seem to be any expectation of privacy here, and the graffiti made it seem like a weird tourist attraction, open to the public. After writing this post, I can see why bloggers get addicted to abandoned places. If you know of another location I could safely blog about, please get in touch.