Best Prison Hotels

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” The unforgettable last words of Eagle’s Hotel California song assume a strongly literal sense when you talk of a prison hotel. Though the last place where you’d want to spend a night is, undoubtedly, a jail cell, but prison hotels give you a decent alternative to satiate your curiosity about what it’s like in prison. Across the world, several prisons have now been transformed into hotels. There are the humblest of backpackers’ hostels to 5-star luxury hotels – created right out of real prison cells! Let’s tell you more about the fascinating concept of prison hotels.

The Oxford Wonder – Malmaison Oxford Hotel
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The Oxford Wonder – Malmaison Oxford Hotel

The old Oxford castle and the prison near it were revamped to this new luxury hotel – Malmaison Oxford Hotel – which blends the domineering aura of authentic castles with all the modern lifestyle technologies.
PRICE from: £239 per room/night

Sprawling old castles with their dark and dingy dungeons, nefarious torture chambers used by world’s most advanced security and intelligence agencies, countryside village courtrooms and prison cells, and prisons with model architecture and the history of having barred celebrities, businessmen, and political leaders – all these kinds of prison hotels offer a range of accommodation options and experiences to those interested.

How to Choose A Prison Hotel?

If your travel plans are super flexible, you’ve got the entire globe sending you invitation cards to come and stay at a prison hotel, there are so many of them!

Castle Prison Hotels: Castle prison hotels get their reputation primarily because of the fascinating architecture, and the old world charm associated with them. Regions like Great Britain offer you quite a few options of castle prison hotels, with most of them offering amenities and facilities equivalent to those of a 4-star hotel. These luxury dungeons could cost you a lot, because they come with a castle-experience and are accompanied by superb amenities such as high-end furnishings, detailed dungeon tours, and memorabilia from the past.

Prison Hostels: On the other end of the spectrum are prison cells that have been converted into comfortable hostels for backpackers. The cells in these jail-hotels are pretty congested, and the ‘noise’ all around gives these prison-hostels a vibe of authenticity that many experience-seekers find fascinating. Such prison hostels offer very inexpensive lodging, with fares varying between $30 and $100 per night.

Niche Prison Hotels: Niche prison-hotels are worth considering too, particularly for adventure seekers who’re looking for the most authentic prison-experience possible. There are niche jailhouse-hotels for these contrarians, where they can expect untouched and untransformed prison cells awaiting them. Complimentary grilling sessions from jail wardens, acting inmates hurling insults at you, and on-demand emotional torture sessions – you name it, and you get it, at these niche prison hotels. For some, these hotels are way off the radar because of their ‘authenticity’, while for others these are the only ‘real’ prison hotels!

Apart from these, there are several other kinds of prison hostels that have enjoyed fame for some reason or the other. For instance, a few prisons across the globe simply rent out the jail cell per night, no frills attached. Then there are recently converted prison compounds that have made news for housing celebrities and political leaders in the recent history. A lot of prison hotels in USA and Europe publicize themselves because of special places in history for detaining notorious robbers and murderers. A few prison hotels give visitors the option of ‘upgrading’ their stay to the director’s room, chief warden’s room, and the jail library.

What To Expect In A Prison Hotel?

Don’t worry; there is something as a ‘check out’ in these hotels, so you’re safe. Depending on the kind of prison hotel you choose, your experience inside could be anything between close to a 4 star hotel stay and an authentic night in the prison cell. Castle prison hotels invariably transform prison rooms into well maintained and well furnished guest rooms. Prison hostels are more about the ‘feel’, and hence keep the furnishings to a bare minimum, and some of them don’t even offer the privacy of a wooden door!

Niche prison hotels are known to offer tours of execution towers and compounds, and tours about the history of the jail. Many jail hotels organize jam sessions and local markets to add to the ‘charm’ of the experience, and give a community feel to the place. Jail hotels that are located on city suburbs or isolated islands offer the facility of ferrying or transporting visitors from centrally connected locations. Other prison hotel experiences include mugshots for memorabilia, prison uniforms, and copies of Bible given to real inmates from the past, and what not.

A night in a prison hotel is an unforgettable experience that takes you into bygone eras, helps you absorb the vibes of period prison houses, and in general, gives you insight into the life, light, sound, and sights inside a kind of place that you’d really not want to visit outside the setting and safety of a hotel service.