The reason why I decided to go to Graz in July 2021 was a hotel. Or to be more precisely: a hotel and two planes. After I already loved the Vliegtuigsuite in the Netherlands, there was chance to sleep in a hotel, but to dine in two: The Novapark Hotel in Graz expanded significantly in 2018, which included a very unusual upgrade. Since the opening of that part of the hotel, there are two planes, an Iljushin IL-62M and a Boeing 727-231 on the roof of the expansion. They work as dining and partying facilities – and likely one of the most exclusive eye-catchers of a hotel worldwide. Not too surprisingly, the place is now branded as Novapark Flugzeughotel Graz – Novapark Airplane Hotel Graz. The place feels, of course, almost made to be reviewed by Flyctory.com.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – Location
To be very straight: as a tourist, you visit the Novapark because you want to visit it. Its location in Graz is not ideal for city trip tourists. There is a bus connection to the center, but the hotel is too far North of most attractions. The place started as a bed & breakfast hotel for people working at the companies around – the location is in fact a commercial area. However, there is a major shopping area around, so that you can get most of your touristic travel needs in walking distance.
As the hotel is North of the city, there is also quite a distance to Graz Airport. Especially to the A9 motorway, the connection is not that bad, though. There are a lot of interesting places around – and also abroad cities like Maribor in Slovenia are not too far away. The hotel offers a major parking garage. There were still construction works ongoing during my stay, so that you may experience other attractions when you visit the place.
Parking was 12 Euro per day. I was quite angry that there was in/out privilege: you had to pay your ticket each and every time – which even worked through a coin only (cash note changer next to it) parking ticket machine. This means that you might pay significantly more than 12 Euro if you have unfortunate short absences. The hotel did not charge me for the second night of parking.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – Atmosphere
My room was in the new part of the hotel. The other part has a bit of an outdated touch – you just cannot argue against it. The hotel and his management is really trying to do their very best to give you a good stay – you simply cannot ignore that major parts of the hotel have not been built as a hip hotel attracting aviation fans from all over the continent. Everything is well-maintained, though, so that you never feel to be in a really old-fashioned or even run down place.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – The Room
I had two weekend nights, Friday to Sunday, in July 2021, in Novapark’s highest room category called First Class Room (you may already guess that there is Business and Economy as well). The room was located in the more modern part of the building. The rate was really good, 120 Euro per night including breakfast – the rate was refundable. The room was maybe a bit of Scandinavian style in a way that it had a very clear and modern design. The room size was absolutely great, there was a big sofa, a lovely work desk and a lot of free space. I also liked that the hotel obviously factored in the needs of a modern traveler – meaning there were plenty of power plugs.
The room itself did not feature aviation references surprisingly. However, there was large TV, a reasonably priced minibar and all amenities like a bathrobe you need to visit the spa area of the hotel. The room featured a coffee machine, preparing a cup of tea, however, was not possible. The rear of the bed also featured a fully configurable LED light with remote control – I did not use the feature apart from taking the one picture – but it is a nice addition.
No Emergency Route Plan
A very severe issue, however, was that the room did not feature an emergency exit route plan at the door or around. I could not find out if that is mandatory in that part of Austria – rooms in the old part of the hotel definitely had that feature, though. In a German hotel, I would assign a significant downgrade in rating for that. I also did not like that the room number was given on the key – it makes it too easy to grab it, e.g. while being in the spa area, and accessing your space.
Some Issues in the Sanitary Facilities
The bathroom was huge, the toilet was separate with a small sink there as well. The toilet has been a bit of annoying for two reasons: first of all, the spare roll of toilet paper was located in the bathroom, not in the toilet – just imagine if you need it and haven’t planned for that. Secondly, there was a weird smell in the toilet, which might be somehow related to the red coloring on the wall behind the sink. As both, the toilet and the bathroom, used movement detectors to switch on the light, you had to keep the doors shut. Obviously, this did not improve the smell issue.
The bathroom with shower was very spacious again and felt very good. By the way, the rubber duck could be bought at the reception – a very cool idea, I felt.
A lovely part of the room was the small balcony, which gave view of the mountains around, but majorly to the Boeing 727 plane and the lovely area in front of the hotel. I also liked that you got a small hotel brochure, just simply printed, with all the services and opening times. Too easy to loose track of all the information without it.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – Breakfast
The buffet breakfast is served on ground floor in a restaurant at the reception. The style of the room was rather traditional – but the breakfast overall served quite a lot of needs. There were some weak spots like that there was just one plate of cheese (which mixed cuts). On the other hand, there were pancakes, a nice variety of bread and a lot of other items. It’s a bit sad that they do not use the plane restaurants for it (which might also be too tricky from a logistic side), but the breakfast has indeed been a great start of the day.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – The Planes / Food
As said, the new part of the hotel features two planes on the top of its roof, which are staggered, one behind the other. The rear one is the Iljushin IL-62, which is a bit hidden from many perspectives. The blue Boeing B-727 is the more prominent plane, located on the front part of the hotel. In both cases, you may visit the original cockpit. There are warnings not to use the gear retractors, flaps etc. as they are still operating. I was a good guy and did not try.
Boeing 727-231 (Restaurant)
The blue Boeing 727-231, which is still showing its original last registration, 3D-JJM, is the place for posh(er) dining. The plane (line number 713, serial 20053) had its first flight on 21st April 1969. It served for TWA, National Airlines and Sun Pacific. The original livery, which is (apart from Novapark ads) still existing is by the charter airline Sport Hawk Chicago, who ran the plane from 1999 to 2003. As such, it e.g. served as the team airplane for the Chicago White Sox and the the Montreal Expos. After these four prominent years, the plane also operated in Swasiland at Inter-Air South Africa, before it came to El Paso for storage. Helmut Neukam, the owner of Novapark, got the plane from there – it has been transported by ship over to Europe.
The plane is beautiful in its new role. You typically sit in sections of four seats in previous luxury style seats. You are not able to recline, but the seats are really plushy and comfy. The tables are themed after famous travel destinations. I felt very comfortable and welcome from the very beginning.
The food quality was really good. The service was very kind as well and it also worked out well to find a dish suitable for a friend of mine I had dinner with, who has some dietary restrictions. I just went for their four course tasting menu, which is altering periodically and featuring different countries. The atmosphere was posh, but also relaxed, so that we had a really lovely evening at an absolutely reasonable pricing. I would even recommend the place if it wasn’t at this exclusive environment.
Iljushin IL-62 (Bar)
The Iljushin IL-62, which always operated under the Registration OK-GBH, has been delivered to CSA Czech Airlines in 1976 and operated there until 1993. Thereafter she had a short time with EspeAir, before she had four more years at Georgia Air Prague. After getting out of service, the plane was bought by an Austrian investor, who brought the plane to Heidenreichstein in Northern Austria and turned it into a restaurant. It almost operated in its new role for some twenty more years, before it was transported to Graz.
The plane is used as a bar in 1980’s style. I feel they did a really lovely job, the place feels very plushy and cozy. The tables are named after different music heroes of that era – I had my dinner at the Cindy Lauper table. There is even some bio and a record around your table. The rear part features some “VIP Seating”, this part of the restaurant also drives a terrace seating, which was quite popular. As an aviation geek, I of course cannot understand that ;). Just due to its positioning, I felt that the Iljushin offers slightly better views.
I tried Novapark’s Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet), which was really lovely. The desert was a sweet Indian chickpea one, which was really delicious. The waiter was absolutely amazing.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – Spa
On the fourth level of its traditional building, the Novapark also features a really lovely spa area. The spa is free for hotel guests, but you can also book a slot as a visitor. Especially as parts of the area are textile-free, I obviously could not take many pictures. The are saunas, whirlpools and ordinary swimming pools as well as plenty of space to relax. The spa area comes with an own snack bar. The most popular place, though, was the outside terrace with real grass, which is a fantastic place on a sunny Graz day.
While the spa area of course comes with age restrictions, there is also a nice “family wellness” area in the basement of the hotel. This area also features the nice gym.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – Services
Overall, the service in the hotel was really good. I struggled a bit with the reception staff in the morning – the lady did not have a level of service attitude I would appreciate in a hotel. WiFi was good, even though the quality of the connection to the router had rare issues. The hotel does so much that you enjoy yourself. Below you see some of their basement entertainment, including a table soccer, pinball, pool and table tennis.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – Gate-08
Gate-08 is not part of the basement fun activities, but is in fact renting space in the hotel. Unfortunately the external party did not allow me to take / use pictures for Flyctory.com – even though I don’t really understand the rationale. Apart from racing simulator chairs and a Carrera slot car track model of the Spielberg Red Bull Ring Formula One race track. The core of their franchise, however, are three flight simulators. Neither of them is certified for flight training, but especially the Boeing 737NG one looked really cool. In addition, they have an Airbus A320 family and a Cessna C-172 Skyhawk simulator. There are different packages you can book. I got a tour through their rooms and feel it feels like a really good addition. Would have loved to have slot car race (which is 19 Euro for half an hour, two people) – but as I traveled alone, this was a rather poor option.
Novapark Airplane Hotel – My View
The Novapark is of course a huge hotel paradise for people like me. I just cannot express how much I value people who have ideas like Neukam and turn them into reality. Novapark is a place creating memories, for sure. Most of the concept and the services are really made to give the guest an enjoyable time. If you love the spa, relaxing and having a sauna, you might even visit the Novapark without exploring the city of Graz (which would be a shame). The price is very good as well.
Unfortunately, there are some little things, which were annoying. I would never rate a German hotel, which is having no escape route plan at the room door, higher than 4.0, for example. My lack of Austrian laws is lucky for the Novapark Airplane Hotel. I just have a very strong feeling they did a terrible mistake there. Parking without in and out possibility and some minor issues at breakfast and with the room are also worth mentioning. Overall, it is a really cool place, I bow down before the entrepreneurship of Neukam and his team to built a place like that.
Castles, planes, great locations – I just call these very special Hotel & Accommodation postings as Uncommon Stays:
Here are all postings about museums concentrating on aviation: