SEVELEN, Switzerland – Tourists in Switzerland can soon sleep in the world's first "zero-star hotel," a former nuclear bunker several meters below the ground.
A group of 15 guests inaugurated the hotel, sleeping the night from Thursday to Friday in the former bunker embellished with artistic decoration and real hotel duvets.
But that was only a trial run, and regular operation of the hotel will require approval of an operating budget by the town of Sevelen.
The hostelry in the northeastern region of St. Gallen, which is part of the town's project to convert the hardly used nuclear bunker, is aimed at guests with a modest income.
"Using the weapon of art, we have created a low-budget hotel, which has charm, takes into account guests' individual wishes and thus becomes quite something," said twin brothers Frank and Patrik Riklin, artists commissioned by local authorities to convert an ancient neighboring factory into a culture center and integrate the bunker.
Organizers said the price per night will be between 10 Swiss francs and 15 Swiss francs, or $9-$13.
The shared bathroom has been converted into a fountain with swimming flowers, and a live-cam is sending images from the outside onto a large screen in the windowless building.
Town Mayor Roman Zogg said the nuclear bunker was empty most of the time, except on rare occasions when the army used it for training courses.
"The maintenance costs loads of money," he said.
Zogg said he was convinced the hotel, which could host cultural events and ski and hiking camps, has good chances of success.
In case of emergency, the hotel could be converted back into a nuclear bunker within 24 hours in line with a Swiss law that says all civil defense buildings have to be ready for use within one day.
The hotel can start commercial operations if the town's population approves the 83,000 francs project credit, or $73,600, in a meeting scheduled for Nov. 11.