Incarcer-Vacations: 11 Prisons-Turned-Hotels

Culture/History, Featured, Offbeat — By Rachel Greenberg on October 30, 2010 at 8:30 am

9. Hotel Katajanokka – Helsinki, Finland

Image: Best Western Premier

After Sweden lost control over Finland and the Russians took over in 1809, they decided the lovely hamlet of Helsinki should be made the capital. And good ‘ol Tsar Nicholas knew the first thing a capital city needs is a prison! And so he commissioned the building of a modern jail in 1832. The original jail structure was completed in 1837 and even came equipped with its own church (which survives to this day and is the second oldest church in Helsinki– wow!). Three more wings were added onto the prison in subsequent years, and it was only in 2002 that it was finally put out of commission due to overcrowding.

Image: Best Western Premier

Image: Best Western/rennygleeson/Flickr

Today the prison is a… Best Western? Although it might seem a tad anti-climactic, the mondo-hotel chain has done a nice job balancing the kitschy and the historical. They merged cells to create larger, more welcoming spaces while maintaining the original jail-house internal structure. The appropriate (but not particularly cleverly named) Restaurant Jailbird is open all day, and there is even a “Prison Break” tour/scavenger hunt offered to guests.

In need of a good laugh? Download the Prison Break PDF pamphlet. Those Finns really know the value of a good costume.

Tags: Australia, Avignon, boston, Canada, Courthouse Hotel Kimpinski, england, finland, Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet, france, Helsinki, Hi-Ottawa Jail Hostel, Hostel Celica, Hotel Katajanokka, Istanbul, Karosta Prison, Langholmen Hotel, latvia, Leipaja, Ljubljana, London, Malmaison Oxford, Mount Gambier, Ottawa, Oxford, Sainte-Anne Prison, Slovenia, Stockholm, Sweden, The Jail Backpackers, The Liberty Hotel, Turkey, UK

    16 Comments

  • some guy says:

    The Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge in Capetown, South Africa is another one.

  • Zvi Greenberg says:

    Near Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada there was a German prisoner of war camp during World War Two. Following the war, it was turned into the Gateway Hotel – a Jewish summer resort.

  • Vic says:

    My wife and I stayed at the Hostel Celica, Ljubljana, Slovenia, when backpacking around Europe!
    This is definitely a party hostel, close to the main train station and centre of town!
    A must see and stay!

  • susan frank says:

    I wouldnt mind staying at the 4 seasons prison in Turkey. looks great. Excellent article by the way, I recently found a you tube video of haunted houses that were turned in hotel rooms, http://www.onlyrooms.com

  • bvp says:

    gaol isn’t kooky canadian for anything- it’s another way of spelling jail, it comes from middle english and old french, and is the way jail is commonly spelled in the UK!

  • Orest Stelmach says:

    Alcatraz: the next Native American casino operation in partnership with the U.S. government and other gaming experts . . .

  • Thumprr says:

    Also, the jailhotel in Lucerne, Switzerland.

    http://www.jailhotel.ch/html_e/frame_e.html

  • sell timeshare says:

    The Peninsula Tokyo in Japan, rated as one of the world’s best hotels, allows you to soak indulgently in their luxurious comforts, which hints of Japanese heritage and culture combined with the latest in innovative technology. The hotel is one of the worlds best hotels and an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

  • Dave says:

    cool article and nice hotels huh. hmmm. we can do it ourselves in our homes though. try this site
    using: http://newtipsclutter.com/articles/

  • ted says:

    We stayed at the Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge in Capetown, South Africa. Great place to stay considering the prices in Capetown.

  • andrwe says:

    Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam was a juvenile detention center.

  • Anon says:

    Do you not know the difference between Stalin and Lenin?

  • Deacon says:

    I had planned to highlight the Old Goal Backpackers in Grahamstown but now I see they have been kicked out of their cells… http://www.oldgaol.com/

  • Marchije says:

    I second bcv’s comment: “Gaol” is actually a British variant of the word “jail”. We kooky Canadians may have used the term “gaol” in the 19th century, but we certainly don’t use that word today.

  • Artur says:

    Seems you forgot Unitas Pension in Prague. Sure it’s a hostel, not a hotel, but it has a ‘presidential’ cell since former president Vaclav Havel was incarcerated there. It’s a weird feeling to close those heavy metal doors on yourself, even though the many locks and tray hole are not functioning anymore.

    On a different subject, it’s likely that “gaol” is linked to the French “geôle”, our ancient word for prison. But I don’t know which language used it first.

  • Artur says:

    Oops, apparently they renovated everything since my stay in July 2006, but you can still have a look at the cells in the basement on their archived old website: http://www.unitas.cz/old/

Trackbacks

Get Trackback URL