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London 2012 National Hospitality Houses

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by David Dragonetti (subscribe)
I love politics (I do realize that there aren't many people like me) and a history buff who also likes nothing better than watching a live comedy.
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So here's my reasoning. You're invited to a country to compete at the Olympic Games and you thus have a limited window of opportunity to show your prowess in the sporting arena as well as display what else your country has to offer in a temporary venue or to use the correct parlance "Hospitality House". You know that the world's media are focused on the sport, so that leaves getting as many other nationalities as possible to see everything you have to offer in your "house". Should you then charge an entrance fee if someone wants come in? I find not only is it rather rude and somewhat cheeky for guests to a country to do so, but it surely is a huge blunder that could have long term economic consequences.

The House of Russia was asking for a rather steep twenty pound at the door. I was simply not prepared to pay that for a hospitality house when I did not have a clear idea what entertainment I was paying for on the other side, what's more, as I have never been to Russia my impression was now somewhat sullied and were I a potential tourist or investor I might be thinking of spending my cash elsewhere.

Though the Dutch House also charged, I had lived for 4 years in Holland, I thus knew that beneath that good natured Dutch exterior there lay beneath a hardened trader and a merchant that had been nurtured over hundreds of years. Money and profit was king to the Dutch but unlike some nations, who shall remain nameless and had capital cities called Washington, it was not at the expense of the welfare of its people. This juxtaposition of money making and a profound sense of social conscience perhaps manifested itself in the Dutch decision to choose a cash needy Alexandra Palace as their house. Called the Holland Heineken House after their sponsor, it will undoubtedly be one of the most popular houses in London and well worth a visit if you have never been to Holland before and are of course prepared to pay to go in.

Apart from Russia House, the choice of other Eastern European houses was very limited. Georgia, Slovak, Croatia, Serbia was strictly for Olympic members only. I presume a Romania House existed but I still couldn't find it after over half an hour of walking around Knightsbridge. Rumoured to be rather opulent and extravagant after passing a now much publicised sight of impoverished Romanian Gypsies begging at Hyde Park corner, I wondered if perhaps the Romania House was now hiding its head in shame.

With the security costs of guarding a publicly accessible house of Israel probably costing more than the London and Beijing Olympics combined, the Israelis decided to simply not have one. The USA House, Japan and Canada House with almost similar security concerns also had just Olympic members only. Most surprisingly of all, there was no house to the world's upcoming global powerhouse. The Chinese are gradually taking over the world but being quite a reserved people, maybe they thought that a hospitality house was taking things too far. Then again did they really need a hospitality house when so much of what we use in our daily lives is made in China?

List of Hospitality Houses to go to visit and then be turned away at the door - Georgia , Serbia, Canada, USA, Japan, Slovak, Croatia all open for Olympic people only - until 12th August

Hospitality houses that are hospitable if you give them money. Holland (situated at Alexander Palace) open until the 12th August and Russia House (Situated at Kensington Palace Gardens) open until 19th August.
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Why? National hospitality houses not open to the public.
Where: London
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