Five publicly funded hotel developments that made no progress last year

Booking a hotel can be a pain. Booking a hotel that was built with billions of taxpayer money and EU funding and never finished or handed over is even harder. A waste of money? No – think of the near-luxury that could be just a fingertip away in a relaxing stay in a near-hotel that is nearly-built. Here are five of the most spectacular almost-hotels in Hungary, paid by the taxpayer and enjoyed by absolutely no one.

“But did it work?” Zoltán Kovács’s question has become something of a mantra. The answer, as per usual, is “no.” The plans were solid, the investments imaginative, and the money was provided by the state. And yet, the luxury hotels that were conjured up in imagination years ago never really materialized.

1. The Medihotel in Villánykövesd

Our attempts to discover more about the hotel have been unsuccessful since 2018. After all of our FOIA requests were ignored, we turned to MP Ákos Hadházy, who went and took a selfie with the spectacular half-building in the middle of the forest.

The results were instantaneous. The Ministry of Regional Development was so alarmed that it immediately revealed that the state had launched two infringement procedures against the hotel.

But hold the hips and the hoorahs – one investigation closed after just four days, and the other was apparently being carried out at the time that Mr Hadházy was on sight. He must have missed the signs.

The cost of the unusable hotel was HUF 782 million in EU funding. The government has now recovered a whopping HUF 20 million. The hotel continues to stand, empty and dysfunctional.


Ákos Hadházy’s selfie in Villányköves. Photo: Facebook

2. The wellness hotel in Kistelek

“The hotel being built in Kistelek is unique in Central Europe, and will be ready to welcome guests in the spring of 2015,” wrote Délmagyarország in a PR release. “The project, which falls within the framework of the New Széchenyi Plan’s Southern Great Plains Operative Programme, will cost more than HUF 1 billion. It will benefit from EU support of HUF 822 million, which represents around 70% of the amount.”

Come 2024, and the hotel is yet to welcome a guest. In 2018, the executive tried to sell the facility at an auction for an asking price of HUF 500 million, but the deal only closed recently. According to the land registry’s title deed, the land was transferred to Atlantica Kft. of Hódmezővásárhely on 28 February 2023, and the debts were erased from the land register. It is not yet known what the new owner plans to do with the structure.

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The “hotel” in Kistelek in spring 2023. Photo by Csaba Segesvári/Átlátszó

3. The Relax Hotel in Pogány

Thus far, only the workers have visited the hotel under construction in Pogány, Baranya County. The 4-star extravaganza that is Relax Hotel was built in Pogány, Hungary, with a total of HUF 3.9 billion in state subsidies. The facility was due to be handed over in 2022, but contractor B Build & Trade Kft was liquidated before completion. According to our information, a significant number of subcontractors have yet to be paid and may only receive money during the liquidation process.

The investor has issued a second tender to finish the construction, to be carried out once again by Paralelbau Kft. Veszprém players VEMÉV-SZER and KIVSZER also bid for the contract, which cost a net HUF 1.2 billion, but neither submitted a budget, so their bids were invalid.

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The unfinished hotel in Pogány. Photo by Eszter Katus/Átlátszó

4. The Castle Hotel in Lengyeltóti

Picture this: a four-star castle-cum-hotel with a champagne cellar and a winery, straight from a Disney movie with an unnatural focus on alcoholic beverages. The hotel in the center of Lengyeltóti, Somogy County, in the former Zichy castle, was meant to have it all.

Instead, the facility has stood empty and shuttered for years – despite the fact that Viktória Sziget Kft won a HUF 240 million EU grant to renovate back in 2010. Indeed, according to news reports at the time, funding reached a total of HUF 1 billion.

But the project came to nothing after the company went bankrupt. The facility soon was bought first by the municipality, and then by a one-man limited company. The purpose remains to be seen.

The Integrity Authority informed us after the publication of our article that the state had withdrawn from its sponsorship contract with Viktória Sziget Kft.

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The former castle in Lengyeltóti was a hospital for a long time. Photo by Eszter Katus/Átlátszó

5. The Hercules Baths and Traian Hotel

The dilapidated Hercules Bath, now in Romania, has been surrounded by criminal investigations. After 35 people were accused of illegal activity, it is still unclear who is responsible for the hotel’s rapid decline into ruins.

Amidst the eerie relic, it is clear that privatization had done more harm than good. The monument, including the Traian Hotel, is still a tourist attraction – it is big in ruin tourism, as long as the visitors don’t mind the occasional stray dog and odd high prices.

We reported on the story in an article we wrote in partnership with Rise project in Romania last July.

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Formerly the Rezső Courtyard, then Carol’s, now Traian’s Hostel. Photo by Sergiu Brega

Translated by Vanda Mayer. The original, Hungarian version of this story was written by Eszter Katus and can be found here.