9. Hotel Katajanokka – Helsinki, Finland
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.
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.