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10 Luxe Hotels You Can Stay in That Used to Be Jails

Historic jails are becoming beautifully contradictory with cells transformed into suites, drunk tanks that are now bars, and prison yards morphed into lush outdoor lounging space—all while keeping various aesthetics that pay tribute to the past. So do you want to spend the night in the slammer? We sure do.

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Four Seasons

Four Seasons Sultanahmet in Turkey

Once a Turkish prison, the Four Seasons Sultanahmet in Istanbul, at first glance, appears to be consistent with the lavish style of other locations within the high-end chain. But Sultanahment is different, once housing criminals within its now bright yellow walls. Touches here and there, such as the watchtowers which now serve as elevator shafts, remind visitors of the history that lies within. Situated close to landmarks including the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, the location is nothing short of perfection. Check out these 25 other cool hotels from around the world.

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Langholmen in Sweden

Långholmen playfully incorporates the hotel’s history into its core design. For 250 years, the building and island housed prisoners—the lush, trademark greenery can be credited to inmates who planted thousands of trees while serving time. After the jail closed in 1975, it reopened as a luxury retreat in 1989. Contemporary cells are beautifully furnished and guests get to hold onto the key, unlike former prisoners. If you like sleeping in weird places, you’ll definitely want to find out what it’s really like to sleep in an ice hotel.

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Malmaison Oxford in England

Malmaison Oxford‘s windows are still barred in many of the converted rooms, with the A-wing providing the most authentic feeling experience of what it was like to be an inmate back in the day. The hotel is gorgeous, towering over a trendy portion of Oxford with all its castle-like glory. Moody lighting and historical accents are reminiscent of a Dracula film, but there’s plenty of vibrant outdoor space to enjoy. Local dishes are served up at the Brasserie, in an industrial environment true to the prison vibe.

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Liberty Hotelvia

Liberty Hotel in Massachusetts

Formerly Charles Street Jail, the Liberty Hotel held captive some pretty notorious criminals. Many of the age-old attributes were kept intact by the architects who redesigned the building, such as the iron catwalks that encircle the central lobby, one of the most captivating attributes. Alibi is the onsite restaurant which is located in the former drunk tank, so of course, they serve up lots of boozy concoctions.

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Hi Ottawa Jailvia

Hi Ottawa Jail in Canada

Hi Ottawa Jail is nestled in Ontario, Canada—the design remains true to the original feel of the jail, and some even say spirits of old inmates still dwell inside the stone walls. All heaviness aside, it’s a fun stop for the adventurous traveler, even offering the option to stay in a solitary confinement cell for those who dare. Check these other haunted places you can stay.

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Hotel Katajanokkavia

Hotel Katajanokka in Finland

Helsinki’s county prison dates back to 1837, but the brick structure was sprinkled with luxurious Nordic design in 2007, converting it into a beloved hotel in Finland. Hotel Katajanokka has an upscale boutique feel, and offers perks like an amazing breakfast buffet and sauna. Purchase striped pajamas to go all in with the theme. You can even host your wedding at the prison chapel. Take a look at these other unusual wedding venues.

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Karasota Prisonvia

Karasota Prison in Lativa

Does your craving for the real slammer experience go beyond a few structural aesthetics? Karasota Prison has you covered. During World War II, this jail in Liepaja, Latvia detained death row prisoners, whom often tried to make a run for it. Now, for a night, you can be verbally yelled at, sleep on concrete floors, and be made to endure physical exercise at the guard’s discretion. After signing the waver, you’re in for an experience that’s as close to the real thing as you’d probably like to get. Don’t worry, you can tailor your experience if you’re not one for punishment.

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The Old Mount Gambier Gaolvia

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol in Australia

Gaol is an old English word which translates to “prison” and that’s exactly what you’ll get at the—The Old Mount Gambier Gaol in Mount Gambier, South Australia. Smaller, 150-year old cells are equipped with metal bunks, and the larger dorms can accommodate big families. Volcanic landscape and electric blue crater lakes of this part of Australia make the old jail a serene escape (pun intended). Take a look at these other gorgeous natural pools around the world.

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Het Arresthuisvia

Het Arresthuis in the Netherlands

Het Arresthuis in Roermond, in the southeastern part of the country, has a luxurious look and feel, while some original accents allow the boutique hotel to grasp onto its past. Perhaps the boldest attribute is the original cell doors which face outward to its slightly altered atrium—chandeliers and modern furniture contrast the stunning look. A gourmet restaurant, plush room interiors, and relaxing spa can make one forget that Roermond’s Het Arresthuis was a dismal place to be in 1863. Be sure to check out these 50+ hotel rooms with bucket-list worthy views.

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jail house innvia

The Jailhouse Inn in Rhode Island

In 1772, the Jailhouse Inn was built to house criminals awaiting punishment in New England—the new structure replaced the old jail from the 1600s. On more than one instance, prisoners escaped, making the Rhode Island tank notorious for not being very strong. Today, its complete purpose is to allow those who pass through to escape—the Colonial style is classic, while feeling like a cozy inn. Don’t miss these 14 cool and unusual hotel rooms you’ll want to go out of your way for.

Karyn Wofford
After changing careers, from EMT to writer, Karyn Wofford has contributed to Livestrong, A Luxury Travel Blog, Trips to Discover, Diabetic Living, the American Diabetes Assotiation's Diabetes Forecast and the T1International Blog, all while building her personal blog, She is passsionate about type 1 diabetes, a condition she, herself, has--a portion of her time is spent advocating with charitable organization, T1International. Areas in which Karyn has spent much time writing include diabetes, conservation, travel, "meaningful travel", lifestyle and natural health.