Perched on a beach on the Croatian island of Krk is the Haludovo Palace Hotel, which today resembles a crumbling 1970s sci-fi movie set more than a palace.
When it opened, the hotel complex was a high-end destination by eastern European standards, considered the most luxurious vacation spot in what was then Yugoslavia. Built in 1971 under the supervision of architect Boris Magaš, the structure exemplifies midcentury space age design, with a certain monolithic quality typical of Communist-influenced architecture. Its modular shapes, asymmetric concrete beams and columns, and wood paneled interior place the hotel firmly in a bygone era.
A year after the hotel opened, Penthouse magazine founder Bob Guccione invested $45 million, expanding it to include the Penthouse Adriatic Club Casino. Through glitzy tourist attractions, he reasoned, better relations could develop between the United States and Yugoslavia. The offerings of the hotel and casino, including high-end cuisine, a cocktail bar, pool, saunas, a tennis court, and constantly scheduled entertainment were a far cry from many Western visions of Communist eastern Europe. While Yugoslavia under the “benevolent dictator” Josip Broz Tito may have been a highly restricted and regulated society, foreign tourists were given a pass and allowed to gamble at the casino. Athletes, actors, dignitaries and leaders from all over the world spent time at the Haludovo Palace.
However, this golden age didn’t last forever. When war broke out in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the region became less attractive to foreign tourists hoping to blow money and soak up the sun. By the time Croatia gained its independence, the hotel had been abandoned for years, and was in a state of decay. It remains that way today, a time capsule representing one of the strangest eras (and locales) in the history of tourism.
Know Before You Go
The hotel can be a dangerous place. There's glass all over the floors, the handrails are missing, the stairs are in bad condition. Be cautious while exploring it.