Today we look back at a craft called the “Hotelicopter,” the alleged flying hotel room in a helicopter which first circulated in 2009.
The so-called “Hotelicopter” was a marketing stunt for a now-defunct hotel search engine of the same name at hotelicopter.com. The prank was so well-conceived that it continues to circulate years later.
Hotelicopter.com was a hotel search engine. The fictional craft was announced, however, as a publicity stunt. This craft allegedly featured a 5-star flying hotel which catered to the ultra-rich seeking a “unique and memorable travel experience.” Each soundproof room came equipped with a luxury queen-size bed and all the amenities of a flying five star hotel including the finest linens, a mini-bar and instant Wifi access.
The crew and staff were the “best of the best,” with safety and security being their top priority. The aircraft was said to meet or exceed all safety, operating, and maintenance requirements. A maiden voyage and supporting tour was announced on the new search engine’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Hotelicopter.com was first registered back in December 2008. In a well-conceived marketing stunt intended to promote the launch of the new search engine, the fake Hotelicopter was introduced as the first flying hotel with 18 luxuriously opulent rooms.
The website was never successful and is now parked. A 2009 snapshot of the website (which has since been removed) read:
Announcing the world’s first flying hotel!
Welcome to The Hotelicopter.
Experience the adrenaline rush of taking off and flying high in the largest helicopter ever produced.
The Hotelicopter features 18 luxuriously-appointed rooms for adrenaline junkies seeking a truly unique and memorable travel experience.
Queen-suite-bed.png Each soundproofed room is equipped with a queen-sized bed, fine linens, a mini-bar, coffee machine, wireless internet access, and all the luxurious appointments you’d expect from a flying five star hotel. Room service is available one hour after liftoff and prior to landing.
The Hotelicopter’s excellent crew and staff make your security and safety their number one priority. Our vehicle meets or exceeds all safety, operating, and maintenance requirements outlined by the FAA in the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) relating to transport category rotorcraft.
The Hotelicopter is due to fly its maiden journey this summer. Interested in learning more? Become our fan on facebook or follow us on twitter to receive our complete welcome kit and to be notified when our reservation system becomes open to the public.
Confusion with Yotel
The original Hotelicopter.com website used images from Yotel.com, leading some to believe it was directly involved in the hoax. Although Yotel received plenty of traffic from the campaign, they were not related to Hotelicopter, but did allow the use of their photos for the stunt.
For people who didn’t get the prank (and many didn’t), the company released the following statement on their blog.
Oh, and yes, we’re the folks behind the flying hotel of the same name. We were just having some fun and had no idea that it was going to blow up as big as it has. Our company has gotten about 1.5 million page and video views in the last week and we thank you for your interest and support. Hopefully we made you smile.
Inspired by real helicopters
Like many popular hoaxes, the fake Hotelicopter was inspired by something in the real world. The pictures which circulated with the hoax were based on a double deck Airbus 380. The scheme was based on a heavy-lift helicopter developed in Russia in the early 1960s called the Mil V-12, still to this day the largest helicopter ever made.
Development and history of the Mil V-12
The original V-12 would dwarf any heavy lift helicopter used today. Just two prototypes were produced with rotors measuring almost 115 feet, making the distance between tip-to-tip of each rotor wider than the wingspan of a Boeing 747.
Both prototypes did fly, and one set the current helicopter heavy lift record of 88,638 pounds lifted to an altitude of 7398 feet on August 6, 1969. The machine was deemed too big and too difficult to maneuver, and never entered into production.
Hotelicopter was a 2009 marketing stunt by a hotel search engine of the same name, which is no longer online. The flying hotel craft featured in photos were altered images of a Mil V-12 along with borrowed pictures from Yotel.com.
Updated June 7, 2015
Originally published February 2014