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Photos take you inside North Korea’s strangely glamorous hotels

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A new book documents the architecture, design and people of the hotels of North Korea’s capital city (Picture: Nicole Reed)

North Korea often feels shrouded in an air of mystery, sparking curiosity for what exactly hides within.

What you’re probably not imagining when you picture the country is luxurious hotels complete with huge swimming pools and and massive marble lobbies.

This is the strange and surreal side of North Korea photographer Nicole Reed and author James Scullin explore in their new book, Hotels of Pyongyang.

‘Under constant supervision from local tour guides, a visitor is not permitted to walk freely along the streets of Pyongyang,’ explains the press release for the book. ‘This leaves considerable downtime spent within the confines of one of Pyongyang’s architecturally beguiling hotels where travellers dine in
grand banquet halls, belt out numbers in kitsch karaoke rooms and take in the evening view from one of the hotels’ revolving restaurants.’

All the hotels in the book permit foreign visitors, and have wildly varied – and oddly glamorous – decors. Take a look below.

The huge pool at Changwangsan Hotel (Picture: Nicole Reed)

Some very neatly arranged drinks at the buffet (Picture: Nicole Reed)

A karaoke room in Sosan Hotel (Picture: Nicole Reed)

A cafe and coffee bar (Picture: Nicole Reed)

The bar by the karaoke rooms in the Koryo Hotel (Picture: Nicole Reed)

Along with the hotel’s interiors, the book captures photos of staff (Picture: Nicole Reed)

Ryanggang Hotel has its own mini gift shop (Picture: Nicole Reed)

The exterior of Chongyon (Picture: Nicole Reed)

The gorgeously colourful interiors of Pothogang Hotel, which is famous for its tea room (Picture: Nicole Reed)

A doorman at Pothogang (Picture: Nicole Reed)

An imposing facade (Picture: Nicole Reed)

A rarely seen glimpse of life in North Korea’s hotels for tourists (Picture: Nicole Reed)

The lobby of Rangnang Hotel (Picture: Nicole Reed)

The reception desk at Chang Gwang San Hotel (Picture: Nicole Reed)

Many of the hotels are impressively grand (Picture: Nicole Reed)

A member of hotel staff getting ready for dinner service (Picture: Nicole Reed)

Hotels of Pyongyang captures photos of hotels interiors and staff in North Korea's capital city: the swimming pool

Another hotel, another pool (Picture: Nicole Reed)

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