Know a Good Hotel for a Dictator?

Every head of state is used to a certain level of red-carpet treatment. Even the ones that are internationally reviled because of the treatment of their people. But with a couple of high-profile and very controversial world leaders descending on New York this week, finding a place to stay in a city housing some of the world’s finest hotels has proven exceedingly difficult. So where does a dictator stay when even the Red Roof Inn won’t have them?

Despite normalizing relations for the most part with the West over the past decade or so, Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi has had a tough time finding a suite in the city for his visit to New York this week, his first-ever trip to the United States. Delivering a speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week, Qadaffi, known for his flashy robes, was originally rumored to be reserving a compound in New Jersey. But community leader protests and a statement from Governor Corzine made it exceedingly clear that the Libyan dictator wasn’t welcome in Jersey. With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton serving as a travel agent, Qadaffi settled on Mahattan’s swank Pierre Hotel. But public pressures eventually caused the Pierre to cancel his reservation. Qadaffi will apparently now be enjoying a room at the Libyan Mission.


The Qadaffi snub came just days after New York’s famous Helmsley Hotel canceled an event featuring a speech from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will also be visiting the General Assembly this week. The hotel claimed they were initially unaware that the event organized by an Iranian student group would be hosting the controversial leader, who days earlier had claimed the Holocaust was “a myth.” Unlike Qadaffi, Ahmadinejab found a hotel suite to stay in. According to the organization United Against Nuclear Iran, the posh InterContinental The Barclay will be hosting Ahmadinejad and the rest of the Iranian delegation, a move the group has publicly protested.

In other countries, dictators have actually had something of an opposite effect on the hospitality industry. The former homes of brutal leaders like Nicolae Ceaucescu in Romania, Radovan Karadzic in Serbia, Joseph Tito in Slovenia, and even Joseph Stalin have been converted into fancy hotels. There’s even talk of converting one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces into a hotel. But finding a hotel for a dictator in the Western world could be a different story altogether.  

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