The 10 best prison hotels in the world
Check Into A Room And Throw Away The Keys?
Enterprise serves time to present you the best hotels converted from former prisons,
dedicated to make you more comfortable than the former prisoners used to be.
Oxford – UK
Efficient bucket-listers can tick off a two-for-one with a stay at Oxford’s Malmaison, as this imposing former prison also did an impressive stint as a medieval castle. Now a hotel, guests can live it up in converted cells fitted out with flat screen TVs, luxury linens and mood lighting. You don’t even have to worry about being done for thieving the mini toiletries on your way out; the kind-hearted folks at Malmaison encourage you to make off with their goods.
Image courtesy: Paul Easton
King’s cross, London, UK
Travelling solo? Get social and avoid solitary confinement at Clink78. This 200 year old former courthouse-turned-hostel can put away over 500 guests with plenty of colourful and quirky spaces for you to mingle with like-minded travelers. Book yourself into a ‘cell’ from £17 per night and swap travel stories with your fellow ‘inmates’. Clink78 fact: Guitarist Mick Jones of punk band The Clash once stood trial in their courtroom for taking pot shots at prize pigeons.
Art has transformed Ljubljana’s old military prison into a place revered the world over for its unique travel experience. The 20 cells were converted into art installations by 80 local and international artists. Stop over in Ljubljana and check out the sculptures by Anthony Gormley lying under the glass floor in cell 119. While you’re there, check out the local cultural area called “Metelkova City”. After the break up of Yugoslavia, it became Europe’s largest urban squat: ex military buildings became illegally occupied by clubs, art studios and museums, making the area a melting pot of metropolitan culture.
Image courtesy: Panic
The Liberty Hotel
While some prison hotels revel in their criminal past, Boston’s Liberty Hotel has gone for style over shtick. Sure, there’s a bar named Alibi – housed in the jail’s former ‘drunk tank’ – but everything else just hints at the building’s previous life. Tiny barred windows have been replaced with floor to ceiling glass offering views over Boston, while the gloomy ‘catwalk’ has been festooned with lights. Tip: Make your escape by taking advantage of the complimentary bikes to explore the surrounding city.
Löwengraben, Lucerne, Switzerland
Grab a bunk mate and hunker down in a room at Lucerne’s Jail Hotel. Used as a prison until 1998 there are various experiences on offer at the hostel but for an authentic incarceration we suggest going ‘unplugged’. The tiny rooms, complete with bars on the windows, have the bare minimum – a couple of beds and a functional sink. Or, if you prefer the lavish lifestyle to the lag’s bleak existence, book into the Director Suite. Formerly the prison director’s office, now a light and airy 25m² space complete with king size bed, which we’re guessing isn’t an original feature.
Propellor Island City Lodge
Berlin’s Propeller Island City Lodge is not for the faint hearted. Each room is an art installation with a different theme. Beds hang from the ceiling, lie at precarious angles or, in the case of the prison room, are alarmingly close to a loo. That said, each room is a thing of beauty and adventurous travelers can sleep in unique spaces not seen anywhere else. For the prison-vibe try the padded cell or Freedom; the ‘friendly’ prison cell where the horror of the in-room toilet is offset by a jauntily angled parasol on the balcony.
Image courtesy: nushh
Despite its notorious past, discerning travellers wouldn’t mind doing some time at Het Arresthuis. Some tasteful throw cushions and a few well placed chandeliers have transformed one of the Netherlands’ most feared prisons into a chic hotel. Plush rooms, kitted out with air conditioning and WiFi, still carry some of the detention centre’s architectural design. The arresting central hall may now be lined with comfy sofas but they do nothing to detract from the heavy cell doors leading to the rooms beyond. Much has been done to soften the jail’s harsh appearance, including planting an organic herb garden around the courtyard cafe. Wannabe yardbirds can enjoy a latte in the sunshine without having to tunnel out of their cell using just a teaspoon.
Image courtesy: fritscdejong
The Old Mount Gambier Gaol
Mount Gambier – South Australia
A steady stream of backpacking nomads wander through the doors of this Southern Australian gaol. It can’t be beaten for a rough and ready prison-stay experience; think communal showers, dorm beds (larger private rooms are available) and a shared kitchen. The owners and staff offer up a warm welcome, plus plenty of stories outlining the building’s extensive history. A great place to set up basecamp while you explore Mount Gambier and the area beyond.
Sleep on an iron bed and experience the cheapest, and frankly most sinister, prison experience on our list. Enlist for the full convict experience at a reasonable 17 euros a night and you’ll have to sign a disclaimer allowing the ‘guards’ to subject you to 12 hours of exercise and verbal abuse. Oh, and did we mention sometimes the guards watch you while you sleep? *shudder* Described as the Alcatraz of eastern Europe, Karosta is said to be haunted. Apparently, the echo of rattling chains reverberate along the creepy corridors. Our advice? Hide a file in your backpack. You may want to escape rather than check out.
Image courtesy: siggi mus
Bologna – Italy
Indulge your inner Rapunzel and let down your hair at the Torre Prendiparte, a striking building towering over Bologna. Exclusively yours for 500 euros a night, the 900 year old tower has been lovingly restored and its rich history documented. All 12 floors of the tower are now accessible, including the floors which imprisoned criminals. Their crimes? Getting a nun pregnant and fighting a duel inside a convent. Edgy stuff! Today graffiti from the detainees can still be seen adorning the walls, but given some of the ‘rude’ subject matter, it may be best to let the romantic views from the top of the tower sweep you off your feet instead.