We first covered this story back in August, when news surfaced of an unusual hotel being constructed in the bowels of ex-Russian aircraft carrier the Kiev - the centerpiece of an 80,000 square meter (20 acre) state-supported military theme park in Tianjin, China. Three carriers were purchased from the Russians around 1996, and while one is being fitted out to become China's first real aircraft carrier, the other two have found employment as a casino and - in the case of the Kiev - a novel hotel. Last year the tale could have been dismissed as perhaps a fanciful ambition, but now the ship is on track to offer 148 rooms to the public, and we have some official pictures of the interior.

The best indication that this is a serious project is the addition of a proper restaurant that opened in December and serves mostly Russian fare. There's clearly a propaganda element to all of this - an invitation to gaze upon "the might that communism can achieve." The approximately US$15 million that it took to make the carrier safe and habitable is unlikely to ever be recouped by commercial means.

In the end, though, the venue will likely provide a fascinating and diverting couple of days should you be touring that part of China. Be warned, no swimming pool or Tourist Board stars here, though the accommodations in the VIP suites look pretty luxurious.

Source: Binhai Aircraft (Chinese)