Incarcer-Vacations: 11 Prisons-Turned-Hotels

Culture/History, Featured, Offbeat — By Rachel Greenberg on October 30, 2010 at 8:30 am
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11. Bonus! Sainte-Anne Prison – Avignon, France

Image: Gridskipper

Although it’s not slated for opening until 2013, the 36 million Euros being poured into Sainte-Anne Prison should be enough to spruce it up just a bit. Located in Avignon, or the Palace of Popes, the aforementioned religious men set up camp in Avignon the 14th and 15th centuries and the city remains one of the holiest in France. The project is being undertaken by Marriott who even enlisted Michel Macary — famed architect of the pyramid at the Lourve and the Stade de France, — to help redesign the 13th century prison that was once a medieval insane asylum.

Located next to the papal palace, the prison was for sale as part of France’s new unused-government-owned-real-estate-garage-sale program that was kicked off in the beginning of 2010.

Hostel Celica Bar and Restaurant at Hostel Celica in </strong>Ljublijana, Slovenia</h2>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Located in Ljublijana, Slovenia, the building Hostel Celica occupies was originally built to be prison barracks in 1883. Initially the barracks housed prisoners of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and later on the Yugoslavian Federal Army. After Slovenia claimed its independence in 1991, the future of the building was uncertain…the city wanted to tear it down but artists, who recognized the prison’s cultural history, squatted in the building and ultimately saved it from destruction. After 10 years and huge amounts of work, Hostel Celica opened its doors to travelers in 2003 with the vision of welcoming strangers into a building that used to confine prisoners but is now full of art and culture.</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>While Hostel Celica was being renovated, more then 80 local and international artists were invited to decorate the prison-cells-turned-hostel-rooms, and graffiti artists, muralists, and sculptors have covered most of the exterior with urban art. Even though many of the surfaces have been covered, a few remnants of the original architecture remain, including cell bars on the doors to the all the hostel rooms and two former solitary confinement cells.</p>
<a href=””><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-9504″ title=”hotelcelica2″ src="”” alt=”” width=”572″ height=”429″ />
Image: espinr/Flickr

Hostel Celica’s Bar and Restaurant is located in a sunny atrium in the center of the hostel. The bar is open from 7 am to midnight weekly and serves local and imported beer, wine, absinthe, and an array of mixed cocktail and shooters. The bar also has a weekly schedule of cultural events that happen at night including dancing workshops, jam sessions, and folk music performances.

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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


  • 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,

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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…

  • 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:


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