Super stylish slammers: A jail break with a difference

by Sylvia Pownall

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like spending a night in prison? Well, wonder no more.

Our seemingly ever-growing obsession with prison documentaries, true crime and gore has led to a trend in converting former lock-ups into places of luxury.

Spending the night in a former slammer might sound like a daunting prospect but it makes for an unforgettable experience, especially when the building has been given a makeover marrying luxury with original features such as window bars, cells and security doors.

You can take the quick route and check-in to your very own sumptuous cell at a revamped former jail – transformed into a haven of tranquility while still paying homage to its heritage.

The accommodations experts at have compiled a list of stylish slammers, most definitely more in tune with indulgence than incarceration.

Malmaison Oxford, Oxford, UK

The building we today know as Malmaison Oxford has an eventful history stretching back more than 900 years.

Adjacent to Oxford Castle, it was originally built in 1071 as a Norman fortress.

Over the years, civil unrest, change of political interests and negligence led to the castle being extended during the Victorian era, and it served as HM Prison Oxford 1888-1996, after which it was turned into a hotel.

The hotel offers a range of 95 rooms and suites, including the cell double, cell superior double and rooms located in the adjacent House of Correction building.

Malmaison prides itself on its unique concept and high standards, with each room boasting power showers, mood lighting, 24-hour room service and exclusive toiletries.

Inmates won’t have to worry about sub-standard food here: the stylish Brasseries serves generous portions of fresh, local and classic food.

Rates start from £149 (€169) per room per night.

Hotel Katajanokka, Helsinki, Finland

Located in the heart of the Finnish capital, the building we today know as Hotel Katajanokka opened as the Helsinki County Prison and investigative penitentiary in 1837 and remained open until 2002.

At that point, the prison was relocated to the outskirts of the city. The building underwent several years of restoration and the luxurious hotel opened its doors in 2007.

Sets of two or three cells were combined to create spacious and comfortable four-star hotel rooms, ranging from queen rooms to junior suites, accessible by the original prison corridor.

Its restaurant, Jailbird, also has a prison theme, complete with exposed brick walls, barred windows and medieval-style chairs. Here guests can sample Scandinavian specialities, including the acclaimed President Ryti’s beef.

Rooms at Hotel Katajanokka start from €115 per room per night.

The Liberty, Boston, USA

The spectacular building we know today as The Liberty was built in 1851 and served as the notorious Charles Street Jail until 1990.

Probably the most famous inmate that served time here is Malcolm X.

The prison was known for its octagonal, 27 metre-tall rotunda, which helped segregate prisoners by sex and category of offences and remains at the heart of The Liberty Hotel’s design.

While the former prison cells were just 80sq ft, today’s 298 rooms and suites range from 400 to 800sq ft.

Guests can expect advanced technology and contemporary style, including mahogany woods and touches of stainless steel.

Those wishing to see the original prison should head to CLINK restaurant, where guests can sit in parts of the original cells while enjoying modern American cuisine.

Rates start from €170 per room per night.

Langholmen Hotell, Stockholm, Sweden

The centrally located Langholmen island has a rich and captivating history, dating back more than 1,000 years. Its history as a correction facility dates back to 1724 when its first female inmates arrived.

The prison was expanded over the years and was eventually closed in 1975. Today, guests staying at the Langholmen Hotell have access to the prison museum, giving them insight into the living conditions of former prisoners.

The original windows remain, although the cells have been updated with contemporary design solutions to include flatscreen televisions and other such amenities.

Guests can choose between single cells, double cells, family cells and even romantic cells, offering sparkling wine, chocolate, dressing gowns and slippers.

Rooms start from €99 per room per night.

For bookings on any of the above visit And, if you’ve caught the bug, you might want to book a stay at Clink78 in London, the Four Seasons Sultanahmed in Istanbul, Turkey or blow the budget on Q Station in Sydney, Australia…

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