Living Large in Kabul
Taliban militants have attacked a luxury hotel in Kabul, the BBC reports. Wait a second, there's a luxury hotel in Kabul? Yep, the Kabul Serena. First opened in 1945 as the Kabul Hotel, it was destroyed during the Afghan civil war and rebuilt in January 2006 with help from the Aga Khan Foundation for Economic Development. And, hey, it looks pretty nice, certainly better than any hotel this reporter has ever stayed in. From the press release announcing the hotel's 2006 reopening:
An oasis of luxury in a war-ravaged city, the hotel offers such unheard of luxuries (by local standards) as: 177 rooms; all with stylish soft furnishings, marble bathrooms, satellite TV and Internet connections on demand. Guest amenities include a business center, health club, swimming pool and a beauty salon.
As for restaurants, the Café Zarnegar offers 24-hour international buffet services, while the exquisite Silk Route Restaurant specializes in a selection of Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian and Thai cuisine. Commenting on the initial success of the hotel, a spokesman for the Aga Khan Foundation for Economic Development, Aly Mawji, said, "mainstream tourism is still years away, but we hope the hotel will encourage some more adventurous travellers".
According to the BBC, four men armed with AK-47s, grenades, and suicide vests stormed the hotel earlier today. One of the attackers detonated his explosive inside the hotel, while the others exchanged gunfire with hotel guards before escaping. Adventure travel, indeed. Nightly rates at the Serena range from $277 for a standard room to $1,333 for the "presidential suite."