16 Former Prisons For as Little as 15 Euros Per Night
Unusual hotels can be interesting in which to stay as a guest — whether the hotel was formerly a car factory; or when I stayed at a hotel property in Akron which was once a grain silo complex that held greater than 1.5 million bushels of grain…
16 Former Prisons For as Little as 15 Euros Per Night
…but then I read about the Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge hotel property as according to this article — which includes a review — written by Alexander Bachuwa of The Points of Life: “The hotel used to be a prison, and that’s not the strange fact. The odd thing about the hotel is that it doubles as a business school.”
Then, I stumbled upon this article pertaining to ten hilarious tourist attractions in the world’s best destinations written by Gilbert Ott of God Save The Points, which highlighted a prison in Latvia.
You might wonder how many other hotels used to be prisons — and you might even want to stay at one of them — so after searching around the Internet, I compiled a list of these hotel properties in no particular order should you want to stay in one.
1. Karosta Prison: Liepāja, Latvia
Starting with the property mentioned in the aforementioned article written by Gilbert Ott is the Karosta Prison in Latvia, where you can get your mug shot taken; stay overnight in an iron bunk which emulates one found in a prison; eat a prison meal; and be harassed by “prison guards” who treat you like an inmate and give you harsh orders — all for only 15 euros per person per night. Barbed wire fencing is still on the property for that authentic experience.
Once a military detention center which was first controlled by the navy of the Tsarist Autocracy and later for the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti — which was better known as the KGB, which was the Committee for State Security of the Soviet Union — this property seems to most emulate life as an inmate in a prison since it opened as a role-playing museum in the 1990s.
Yes, you can bring your children along for a discounted rate. If you consider your child a brat, this experience should teach him or her a thing or two — especially as the rate includes educational talks on how to be a contributing member of society.
If that is not extreme enough for you, step into the shoes of a prisoner on a dark and dismal night at the Naval Port prison for another two euros from 9:00 in the evening through 9:00 in the morning the next day. The event is intended for groups of 10 or more. Only those who sign a statement agreeing with the conditions of the show will be allowed to participate in it. That does sound rather extreme.
Liepāja is located along the shores of the Baltic Sea almost 135 miles west of Riga. If you find yourself in Latvia, you might want to check this place out for yourself if you seek some good old fashioned harassment. Free parking is included if you drive a vehicle there; but breakfast is not included.
2. Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge: Cape Town, South Africa
As mentioned, this former prison houses both a hotel and a business school; and Alexander Bachuwa has the photographs to prove it — including one of him behind bars.
If that is not enough of an incentive to get you to find out more about the Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge, then I am not sure what will convince you to do so…
3. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet: Istanbul, Turkey
Located in the Old City of Istanbul on the Balkan Peninsula, this luxury hotel property will not look like a former jail to you, as there is little evidence of its days as the first modern prison in the capital of what was once the Ottoman Empire exactly 100 years ago in 1918 — other than its heavy wooden doors to the lobby; the watch towers which are now elevator shafts; the courtyard is now beautifully landscaped; and engravings from an inmate in 1938 detailing the names of former inmates can be found on a marble pillar inside.
The claim to fame for this building is its depiction in the 1978 movie Midnight Express — that, and the inmates during its prison days apparently had some spectacular views of the Sea of Marmara and the Hagia Sophia basilica.
The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet opened as a luxury hotel and spa in 1996; and it is close to the Topkapi Palace.
4. The Het Arresthuis Hotel: Roermond, the Netherlands
Original prison doors to each guest room — which you can lock from the inside — harken the past of this hotel property comprised of 38 rooms, which opened as one of the most intimidating jails in 1862 with 105 prison cells; but little else will remind you of its past.
Located 113 miles southeast of Amsterdam, the past of this building is not so distant: it was converted from a dangerous jail in 2007 and opened as a resort property in 2013.
Four suites of The Het Arresthuis Hotel are called The Jailer, The Lawyer, The Director and The Judge; and you can dine on “Penitentiary Dinners” at a communal dining table — as well as view the history of this hotel property as a jail through slides as shown by the “wardens”.
5. Hotel Katajanokka: Helsinki, Finland
The original brick walls of the prison which closed in 2002 still surround the Hotel Katajanokka in Helsinki. The oldest part of Hotel Katajanokka dates back to 1837; and the main part dates back to 1888. The building originally served as a county prison and detention center where approximately 40 percent of all of the prisoners in Finland would await trial.
The open central corridor, the aforementioned red brick outer walls and the high perimeter wall around the park are all protected by the National Board of Antiquities and remain as a reminder of the long and colorful history of the building, which now houses 106 guest rooms which are each comprised of either two or three cells.
6. The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel: Boston, United States of America
Built from local granite in 1851, the Charles Street Jail housed prisoners for almost 140 years until it closed in 1990 to be renovated in what is now the Liberty Hotel in the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston.
Malcolm X; the crew of a German submarine during World War II; and Albert DeSalvo — who was better known as the Boston Strangler — are only a few of the inmates who once were residents of the 220 cells of this now-former penitentiary.
Vestiges of jail cells still remain throughout the hotel and are usually backlit in such colors as neon green, pink, and purple; and 19 of the 298 luxurious rooms are located in a former cell block. The brick walls which comprise the exterior of the building remain unchanged from its incarceration days…
…and Clink is the name of one of the restaurants within The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel.
The jail closed due to mass overcrowding — which should not be a surprise, as locals call the name of their home state Mass anyway…
7. Malmaison Oxford: United Kingdom
Originally a wooden motte-and-bailey castle which was constructed almost 1,000 years ago, the building was then converted to a high security prison during the 1800s and remained that way until 1996, prior to its conversion into a luxury hotel property — and the funny part is that you may very well imagine what the Malmaison Oxford was like when it was a castle; but find it hard to believe that it was actually a prison.
Remnants of its prison days include original iron cell doors; thick walls; low ceilings; and windows with bars which do not open.
Rumors swirl that the ghost of a former inmate named Mary Blandy haunts the hotel — and yet couples get married at this place anyway.
8. Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel: Luang Prabang, Laos
A few of the original watchtowers of the former town prison still grace the former Hotel de La Paix, which is located near the center of Luang Prabang and contains 23 suites with private gardens — some of which have pools — through which you can walk for a serene experience and quiet contemplation.
The Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel is certainly not the Laos-iest way to spend the night…
9. Långholmen Hotel: Stockholm, Sweden
…but 75 years later in 1724 — when the government acquired Alstavik — it was used as a penal institution for women and expanded over the next 250 years as a prison for the most wanted men and women of Sweden. It was the site of the last execution in Sweden prior to the abolishment of capital punishment in 1921. The prison finally closed in 1975.
Once remodeled in 1991, the building became both a youth hostel and exclusive hotel property. Original metal doors, bars on the windows, and the original ladders that joined the bunks of inmates have all remained intact and have been integrated into the décor.
In addition to the museum — which is now on site in which you can learn more information about the history of the building by reading the engravings which remain along the walls — guided tours of the island are available. The former hospital of the prison is now a restaurant in the Långholmen Hotel which you can dine on local delicacies.
10. The Old Mount Gambier Gaol: Mount Gambier, Australia
The Old Mount Gambier Gaol — located on the sunny Limestone Coast of Australia near Blue Lake — was a prison from 1866 through 1994, when it was closed and eventually neglected. A family purchased the building and adapted it into an affordable budget hostel for backpackers when it opened in 2010.
Although it may not exactly be considered luxurious, it does maintain the rusted and bolted rooms as guest rooms — some guest rooms were not originally cells — and it features gun turrets and a wall mural created by former inmates. You can even dine in what was the original mess hall of the prison.
11. Alcatraz Hotel: Kaiserslautern, Germany
No, this hotel property is not to be confused with the famous former prison located on its eponymous island in San Francisco Bay — although the décor of this hotel property does pay tribute to its namesake with plenty of photographs from San Francisco.
Rather, the Alcatraz Hotel is located in the German town of Kaiserslautern and was a prison from 1867 to 2002, when it was refurbished to include 56 rooms for guests. Some of those rooms were former cells which are located in an area where three levels of the original cells from the prison still include barred windows, original bed frames made by inmates, and shared toilets — they have yet to be refurnished — while others are considered to be “comfort style” guest rooms which were newly renovated.
If you choose to stay in a guest room which was a former cell, you can opt to go all out with the “full inmate experience” — complete with wearing optional striped pajamas; and dining on what is considered a traditional prison breakfast of pumpernickel bread and jam.
12. Ottawa Jail Hostel: Ottawa, Canada
Once the Carleton County jail from 1962 through 1972 — which was notorious for being home to inhumane treatment of prisoners, with up to 150 people living in tiny cells lacking heat and plumbing — the majority of the building which now houses the Ottawa Jail Hostel remains in its original condition.
Experience the original gallows, cell bars, and stone walls — all of which are fully intact and functional; so you had better behave during your stay — as well as a guided tour of the former execution center, which housed death row inmates and is located upstairs…
…and if you are fortunate enough, you may even be haunted by the ghosts of former prisoners — such as Patrick J. Whelan, who was hung on site in 1869 — during your stay.
Rooms range from basic budget bunks to relatively upscale guest rooms with double beds.
13. Hostel Celica: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Each of the guest rooms of the Hostel Celica has been redesigned by artists and architects to offer playful designs with bold colors and prints — which may be considered a far cry from its past as military prison cells…
…but the rooms still maintain their original bars, windows, and doors for that oh-so-authentic prison feel.
While in Ljubljana, visit Ljubljana Castle and indulge yourself in a burger made with horse meat at Hot Horse, which is a local chain of fast-food restaurants — if you dare.
14. The Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy: Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy was not only a prison from the beginning of the World War II until 1963 — it also served as an accommodation for immigrants before it became a shelter for Jewish refugees during the Nazi regime; and after its stint as a prison, it was a juvenile detention center
Artists from the Netherlands designed the 117 rooms in this hotel property with the goal of bringing more contemporary aesthetics to the property with modern Dutch designer furniture and décor — as well as offer swings which hang from wooden beams and spiral staircases; hotel rooms with beds which can accommodate eight people; four different mezzanines; and other uniquely eclectic features…
…but more traditional offerings — such as a restaurant, a bar, and a large terrace — are also available.
15. Unitas Hotel: Prague, Czech Republic
In addition to having served as both the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel was also a writer and freedom fighter — and was also housed in the prison which closed in 1989 and is now operating as the Unitas Hotel.
Originally built by Jesuits and transformed into a nunnery, budget travelers and backpackers are the current target market for this hotel property, whose rooms now offer simple but cozy spaces — despite reminders of the days when they were originally convent cells. The Secret Police had used this property years ago to set up cells in the basement.
This hotel property is located only approximately 800 feet away from the historic Charles Bridge.
16. Caro Short Stay Main Bridewell: Liverpool, England
The main Bridewell prison in Cheapside was comprised of between 60 to 90 small cells which measured seven feet square with brick walls which were three feet thick when it opened in 1867.
Today — in the city best known for The Beatles — the brick interior remains in the former prison; but the 85 guest rooms with full ensuite bathrooms in the Caro Short Stay Main Bridewell hotel property include such amenities as LED “smart” televisios, and a glass-enclosed lounge space which once served as the recreation yard. Even a fitness center is available for use; as well as some rooms equipped with kitchenettes with refrigerators and stovetops units.
One hotel which was formerly a prison for 136 years — first built in 1862 and closed in 1998 — and originally included in this list was Jail Hotel Lucerne in Switzerland; but that hotel property appears to have closed within the past year or so. I do not know if or when it will open again as a hotel property.
Barring anything else, you owe your cellf a stay in one of these former prisons, as staying at one of these hotel properties could be the key to unlocking a unique yet captivating overnight experience which could cause your friends to become quite jailous.
Wire you waiting any longer to book your reservation?
Photograph ©2006 by Brian Cohen.
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