Syria: War takes toll on Aleppo's legendary hotel

Published November 18, 2014
The key of the presidential suite of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
The key of the presidential suite of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
A picture taken on the government controlled side of Aleppo shows the Baron Hotel, the oldest hotel in the northern Syrian city. —AFP
A picture taken on the government controlled side of Aleppo shows the Baron Hotel, the oldest hotel in the northern Syrian city. —AFP
The reception hall of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
The reception hall of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
The reception desk of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
The reception desk of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
A room at the Baron Hotel. —AFP
A room at the Baron Hotel. —AFP
The Baron Hotel's lobby. —AFP
The Baron Hotel's lobby. —AFP
The lobby of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
The lobby of the Baron Hotel. —AFP
An old photograph of the Baron Hotel displayed inside the hotel. —AFP
An old photograph of the Baron Hotel displayed inside the hotel. —AFP
A picture taken on the government controlled side of Aleppo shows a telephone booth at the Baron Hotel. —AFP
A picture taken on the government controlled side of Aleppo shows a telephone booth at the Baron Hotel. —AFP
A receipt of British Army officer Thomas Edward Lawrence displayed at the Baron Hotel. —AFP
A receipt of British Army officer Thomas Edward Lawrence displayed at the Baron Hotel. —AFP
An old car belonging to Armen Mazloumian, the owner of the Baron Hotel is parked outside the lodge. —AFP
An old car belonging to Armen Mazloumian, the owner of the Baron Hotel is parked outside the lodge. —AFP
Armen Mazloumian, the owner of the Baron Hotel, the oldest hotel in Syria's Aleppo, sits at the terrace with his black Russian Terrier. —AFP
Armen Mazloumian, the owner of the Baron Hotel, the oldest hotel in Syria's Aleppo, sits at the terrace with his black Russian Terrier. —AFP

Indifferent to the sniper fire and shelling around him, the owner of the oldest hotel in Syria's Aleppo sits gloomily in the storied property he has been forced to close. Just a few metres from the front line separating government and rebel forces in the city, Armen Mazloumian smokes a cigarette on the terrace of the Baron Hotel. The hotel was founded in 1911 by Mazloumian's grandfather, whose name it bears, and was once the fanciest in Aleppo, Syria's former commercial hub. In 1958, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser delivered a speech here. It was also at the Baron that Agatha Christie wrote parts of “Murder on the Orient Express”. But since fighting arrived in the city in 2012, paying clients have dwindled to zero and the once-glamourous building is falling into disrepair. “It's been nearly four years since the war began and I see nothing that inspires any optimism in me, quite the contrary,” says 63-year-old Mazloumian, unshaven and wearing a blue woollen hat.

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