Rabaul Hotel

The oldest hotel in the New Guinea Islands, opened in 1952, the Rabaul Hotel was a wonderful introduction to Papua New Guinea. There’s not many hotels that have their own WW2 bunker and sit in the shadow of an active volcano (that wiped out the town in both 1937 and 1994).

During the 1994 eruption the hotel was only saved by the hard work of the owners and staff removing ash from the roofs as it fell, and three months of clean up work. While the rest of the town (once home to 25,000 people) has mostly returned to vibrant bush, Rabaul Hotel continues to be popular with tourists exploring this fascinating part of Papua New Guinea, and even more so with locals working at the still busy Rabaul Port (thanks to the deep waters of Simpson Harbour).

The gun out front was brought to Rabaul from Singapore during WW2 and found 60 years later. It is still functional and fired on special occasions!

Reception is home to wonderful masks from the annual Rabaul Mask Festival, held every July, and one of the reasons I was here.

Discovered when the swimming pool was being built the entrance isn’t original, but the Japanese bunker underneath from WW2 is. Not convinced that the artwork is though…

There is more WW2 history in the bar, with guns and bombs hanging above the snooker table, along with photos of the volcanic eruption and fall out.

The Phoenix Room is an unusual fusion themed restaurant with pieces from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and PNG. There is a huge tabu wheel made of shells, the original Kina currency in PNG.

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