The words “hotel” and “prison” seem like opposites, but that hasn't stopped people from taking buildings that were used to house and punish prisoners, and turn them into places of relaxation and hospitality! From terrifyingly authentic buildings, to glamorous five-star hotels, it seems that prisons aren’t always such bad places after all!
Of course, a big part of the discomfort of prison is your inability to leave, which all of these Hotel-Prisons will let you do. Staying in a Hotel-Prison will give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in history and the stories of those men and women who have stayed in those cells.
Most of these Hotel-Prisons retain much of their authenticity, with narrow corridors and small, square rooms being a common feature amongst many of them. However, how authentic you want your experience to be, is up to you! So whether you are looking for a close-to-genuine experience of sleeping in a prison, or just like the idea of staying in somewhere with a heap of historic value, there are plenty of variations of hotel-prisons out there for you to choose from!
10 Karosta Prison, Liepaja, Latvia: $10 Per Night
Want to go to an “unfriendly, unheated, uncomfortable” hotel? Well, this is the right place for you. This prison-hotel has been renovated very little since its days as a KGB jail, and comes fully equipped with barbed wire, iron beds and prison meals. Fortunately for their unfortunate guests, the experience shouldn’t financially break you at only $10 per night!
9 Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ontario, Canada: $30 Per Night
The Ottawa Jail house, better known as the Nicholas Street Gaol or Ottawa Jail, comes with a lot of baggage. The top floor that has been lovingly restored was where death row inmates awaited their fate, and daily tours are provided for those looking to ingratiate their curiosity. When the jail closed in 1972, Hostelling international was quick to pick up the property, keeping many of the prison-esque features such as brick walls and mental bunk beds in tact so guests can get a real sense of what it’s like to stay in a prison cell.
8 Old Mount Gambier Gaol, South Australia: $75 Per Night
This hotel is anything but glamorous. If you're looking for a cheap place to stay, and/or have always fantasized about being locked up in jail, then this is probably the closest way to do so without actually having to commit a crime. There is a communal kitchen and bathrooms, giving it that extra prison flavour. To top it all off, the 45 room hotel’s staff, who are referred to as the warden, matron and inmates, are all wearing the not-so-latest in prison wear.
7 Jailhotel Loewengraben, Lucerne, Switzerland: $113 Per Night
Unashamed by its identity, the self-titled “Jailhotel” was built in 1862 and was used as a prison until 1998, before being converted into a hotel. There’s also a bar called the Alcatraz downstairs that’s opened until all hours of the night, so you don't have to worry about going very far for a drink. The hotel still has many of their old prison style features, and is described by some guests as “creepy”.
6 Lloyd Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: $116 Per Night
The award winning Lloyd Hotel was built in 1920 as a hotel for emigrants, and only later become a prison. Between 1989 and 1999 the building was then rented out as artists’ space, only to become a hotel once again in 2004. In order to open up the confined interior, a void was created through the centre in order to provide guests with a communal area. Each of the 120 rooms is unique and ranges from zero- to five-star standards. From tiny rooms with raised beds and just enough space to tuck your luggage beneath, to rooms with swings from the rafters, you'll be sure to get an interesting and exciting experience staying at the Lloyd hotel!
5 Langholmen Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden: $179 Per Night
The Langholmen Hotel was built in the early 19th century and was formerly known as the old Crown Prison. The building which is situated on an island just a few minutes underground train ride away from the centre of Stockholm, discharged its last convict in 1975. After years of being left to its own devices, the building was renovated into a hotel and opened its doors in May of 1989. The hotel has retained many of the features of the old building, with their beautiful open atrium dating back to 1866. While the heavy metal doors and narrow corridors hint to its former use, the design of the cells use innovative ideas to make it appear as little like a cell as possible (and the hotel does promise that you get your own key!)
4 Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town, South Africa: $187 Per Night
The Breakwater Lodge was built as a prison in 1859 and now functions as part of the University of Cape Town and as a hotel. The original prison was built to house 352 British prisoners, and the design was inspired by Pentonville and Millbank prison in England. The building now serves as a hotel that’s operated by the Protea chain, and is ideally located in the heart of Cape Town’s Waterfront Development.
3 Malmaison, Oxford, UK: $239 Per Night
Be transported back to medieval times with the Malmaison hotel in Oxford. The hotel’s history dates back to the 14th century. It played a huge rule in the Anarchy and Baron’s War, after which was used as a prison. Behind the scary façade of the Norman Medieval Castle lies, as the website playfully calls it, an “escape”. The 95 room hotel promises a unique experience, with moody lighting and interesting décor, the hotel manages to keep it edgy but sophisticated all at once.
2 Liberty hotel, Boston, USA: $544 Per Night
The Liberty Hotel has had its fair share of famous guests, not all of whom stayed at building after it was a hotel. Such famous names that stayed when it was the Charles Street Jail include Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti. The Liberty Hotel was built in the mid-19th century in cruciform style that allowed for plenty of light to shine into the building. The Charles Street Jail has gone through significant renovations and is assuredly a much more comfortable stay today.
While the careful renovations ensured that the building retained much of its formidable characteristics, with many features showing Romanesque and Renaissance influences, the 298 room hotel now comes with all the modern conveniences that you'd expect, including flat screen televisions, Molton Brown body care products, martini sets and four-fixture bathrooms.
1 Four Seasons Istanbul, Sultanahmet, Istanbul: $700 Per Night
Welcome to the Four Seasons Istanbul, the city’s first jailhouse! The jailhouse was built in 1918 in Turkish Neoclassical style. The prison was originally designed for short stay prisoners, including women and children, and was located next to the Courthouse. The property fell into disrepair but started its renovation in 1992 and re-opened its gates to a different type of guest in 1996. You're truly immersed in this beautiful boutique style hotel, but just take a quick peek out your window down to the beautiful outdoor courtyard and you'll see what used to be the prisoners’ exercise yard. The hotel’s proximity to Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque and the Spice Market make it a favourite with tourists that are looking for a more authentic feel of Istanbul.