Hotels come in all shapes and sizes but the intriguing ones are often those with hidden (and not-so-hidden) former "lives." And what better makes a storied past than a former self as a prison?
Let’s face it, there’s just something about the idea of spending the night in the slammer, especially when it’s comfortable and hip, and you can, you know, leave whenever you want -- which is the beauty of a prison-turned-hotel. From boutique-chic properties to historic castles, these eight awesome hotels make doing time a real treat.
Rehabilitated from a prison to luxury lodging, Boston's Liberty Hotel completely transformed its predecessor. Featuring a stunning lobby with 90-foot atrium, which allows you to soak up the rich history of the 298-room hotel, the Liberty is a unique building. The comfortable cells -- pardon, rooms -- come with spacious bathrooms with large showers and 24-hour room service. There are two restaurants and two bars on-site where the food and drink is a cut above the stuff you’d find behind bars.
If you’ve ever been curious about what it might have been like to be in a Victorian prison, then, well...this might not be the authentic experience you’re looking for -- which is a good thing because Victorian prisons weren’t very nice places. As for the architecture of the buildings the Victorians used for prisons, that’s another matter. At Malmaison Oxford Castle, the thick stone walls of the medieval castle will keep you safe and secure in the stylish former-prison-turned-boutique-hotel. Rooms each consist of three former cells with original features. You can breath the fresh air of freedom from the rooftop bar while you take in the great views of the historic city of Oxford.
The punk prison hotel, Clink78 Hostel is a fun, bold, street-art-inspired space for a budget stay. Taking over the austere space of a former courthouse and its cells, the hostel juxtaposes attractive original Victorian judicial features alongside neon signs, street art, and bold block colors. From multiple occupancy dorms to private en-suite rooms, options range here: your pick of general population incarceration or solitary confinement. Choose a bona fide Prison Cell for the authentic feel of being locked up as you’re shut in for the night by the cell’s original heavy steel door. For when you do break out, each stay comes with a free London Walking Tour.
Transformed from a no-frills prison (not that prisons ever have frills -- except, maybe Martha Stewart's) into a charming, modern hotel, Helsinki’s 5. Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka makes a big deal of the building’s former use. Guests can buy souvenirs of black-and-white striped inmate shirts and eat in the on-site Jailbird restaurant, where food comes served on metal plates for that extra authentic touch. Rooms deviate from the prison theme, decorated in charming, modern style with attractive bathrooms attached.
Booking a stay at the historic Jailhouse Inn in Newport, Rhode Island is a far more sensible way to arrange a trip to prison than opting to randomly break bad one day. The inn is close to the shops and sights of downtown Newport and just a block from the harbor. Rooms may be relatively basic but the historic details of the inn's former life as a county jail add character to the cozy decor.
Short of doing crime, the best way to book a stay at Her Majesty’s Pleasure is with a visit to the Courthouse Hotel in Soho, London. Back when the hotel was an operational courthouse, complete with subterranean cells, the likes of John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, and Mick Jagger all appeared in its dock before the judge. Luxurious suites here come with whirlpool baths and open fireplaces and rooms are spacious and bright, complete with marble bathrooms. Located in the heart of Soho, you’ll find a wealth of culture and nightlife a few minutes from your door. But behave or you might have to face the judge as well!