Once again I found myself, this time along with my fixer, Salman, the only guest in an Iraqi hotel.
Unlike the bomb-damaged Flowers Land in Baghdad, however, it was the five-star Ninewah International in this northwestern Iraqi city that I landed in. It's a 10-storey concrete slab with an enormous atrium around which sit all the rooms.
The hotel is mostly void of overnight guests these days, since the city is now the deadliest in all of Iraq. The presence of several radical Sunni groups and festering tension between Arab and Kurd over the division of territory have led to frequent assassinations and kidnappings, and discouraged most people from coming here.
The hotel, built 25 years ago, wouldn't have been my choice for accommodation, situated on the north bank of the Tigris, albeit in a pretty, forested area, but well away from the centre of this historic, if conflicted, city.
However, we had entered Mosul under the protection of the Governor, whose people had insisted we stay at the heavily secured International.
My 6th-floor room looked right across at a string of five palatial homes on the hillside facing the hotel. Four of the ornate buildings were now part of the nearby university, and the fifth, the biggest, was some kind of convention centre. All of them, the hotel manager explained, had belonged to Saddam Hussein and his family.
Salman, who in an earlier life had been an engineer, had stayed in the hotel in the 1980s, when he was managing a project in the area.
At that time, he said, half of the hotel - the half that looks out at the palaces - was closed. No one could stay there.
He was told it was by order of Saddam.
It wasn't clear if the order was given for reasons of security, to ensure privacy, or simply because the president was too embarrassed at living a few days of the year in such opulence when his subjects were waging a lengthy and costly war with Iran.