If you’re marking a special occasion – a milestone birthday or a wedding night – and want a special place to stay, we might have found you some memorable accommodation in Holland.

Ben Thijssen has converted the aircraft once used by the East German leader Erich Honecker into a luxury retreat. The 40m long Russian-built Ilyushin 18 aircraft was bought by Ben, who was the first person to convert a plane to accommodation. It’s sited at Teuge Airport near Apeldoorn.

Ben was staying with his wife in a railway carriage when he came up with the idea. He was aware that elsewhere in the Netherlands there were unusual rooms, like a converted harbour crane, so ten years ago he started offering breaks on the airfield. The aircraft has attracted former pilots, cabin crew and plane spotters but it’s generally booked by couples looking for a quirky romantic getaway.

So far former senior Communist party members haven’t been booking, he says! The aircraft once flew the communist leader to Cuba and I asked Ben whether there’s a discount for anybody revealing that they were once Stasi officers. “Well you can give it a try,” he laughed.

The on-board facilities are a world away from the austerity of the Eastern Bloc. The cockpit is still original but everything else has been transformed into the height of luxury for two people. You’ll find a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a fitted kitchen. It even has three televisions equipped with Blu-ray players. You can cool off after a sauna on a balcony connected to the plane. And from there you can look out over the airfield and enjoy watching the planes land and depart.

As the plane’s popular with honeymooners, many guests don’t leave the accommodation but if you do want to check out the neighbourhood there’s plenty of nature nearby. Ben recommends a trip to the former Dutch Royal Palace, which is just 6km away. All of the neighbouring towns have historic centres too, he says.

You can book your stay on Ben’s website here.

Listen to our chat with Ben about his unusual accommodation here:


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