Once the home to criminals, these former prisons now allow guests to voluntarily experience “jail house” living.
Liberty Hotel, Boston
After almost 140 years of housing inmates, the Charles Street Jail was turned into a 298-room luxury hotel by a team of architects, designers, and historians dedicated to preserving the history of the building. The hotel kept true to its roots by keeping the 90-feet-high atrium, where the lobby is now located. 19 of its guest rooms are located in an old cell block. The hotel’s restaurant, Clink, features preserved jail cells and wrought-iron bars on the windows. Guests can walk the former jail’s catwalks that wrap around the atrium or stroll the prison yard turned hotel garden.
Malmaison Oxford Castle, Oxford
The Oxford Castle was built as early as 1066, but wouldn’t act as a prison until after the mid-1700s. In 1996 it was restructured with restaurants and a hotel. The Malmaison Oxford hotel converted the cell blocks into guest rooms, where guests stay in rooms like the “House of Correction Double.”
Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka, Finland
Hotel Katajanokka was built in 1837, serving as a county prison until 2002. In May 2007 the building was renovated into a modern hotel. Safeguarded by the National Board of Antiquities, the red brick walls, central corridor and the high perimeter wall act as a reminder of the hotel’s history and will always serve as a reminder of its past regardless of the renovations inside.
Jailhouse Inn, Rhode Island
Built in 1772, the Newport Jailhouse was created for prisoners who were passing through the area on their way to be tried in other cities. Renovated in 2005 into a small hotel, the building was left with some not-so-subtle nods to its long history as a jailhouse. There are barred doorways and windows, and of course the name, Jailhouse Inn.
Alcatraz Hotel, Germany
The Alcatraz Hotel, which shares its name with the infamous San Fransisco jail and was once a prison, is now made up of over 50 guests rooms and is basically still a prison. The “cell rooms” allow visitors to imagine what it would be like behind bars. With iron doors, bars on the windows, communal floor showers, and even in-cell toilets it hardly feels like they renovated at all. People can experience this truly unique experience for less than $60 U.S. per night.
Hi-Otttawa Jail Hostel, Canada
Since 1862, this prison featured very harsh living conditions. Prisoners spent most of their time in their cells, which lacked lighting, heating, ventilation and toilets. These unpleasant conditions lasted until 1972 when the jail was finally closed. The Canadian Youth Hostel Association took over and renovated the building, opening its doors to guests in August 1973 for just $2 a night. The Hi-Owttawa Hostel has since raised its price, and has continued to update the building. The guest rooms are still very much set up like a prison, with cell rooms and corridors made of brick and stone. As prison-like as their appearance may be, they still offer free breakfast and WiFi with their “Authentic Jail-Experience” package for around $40 a night.
Jailhotel Lucerne, Switzerland
Given its smallish size, this Swiss prison, built in 1862, was usually overcrowded. It even had a guillotine onsite. The prison officially closed in 1998 and inmates were moved outside the city for safety reasons. In 1999, the Jail Hotel was open for business. Now guests can stay in the cell-inspired rooms like the “Most Wanted Quadro” or the “Twin Cell Unplugged,” with bunk beds and barred windows to get the full jail house experience.