AHOY! So, here’s the sitch: you wake up in the morning in a new country and you glance over to the window… there are bars up, you roll over and the heavy iron door is slammed shut, that’s right, you’re in prison! But, not everything is as it seems. Sure, getting banged up abroad isn’t the ideal start to a trip, but sometimes, just sometimes, you might actually do it by choice!

That’s because you’re in a prison hotel, where history meets high-end hospitality! Forget the porridge and bread, we’re about to take you on a journey through some seriously snazzy repurposed penitentiaries – places where tantalising tales of incarceration collide with modern comforts in the most fantastical ways. Forget staying somewhere boring, why not start the trip with a different sort of bang?

Get ready to dive into our list of the top 10 prison hotels. These joints aren’t your run-of-the-mill digs; We’re talking ancient fortresses turned into swanky retreats and spooky slammers that have been transformed into boutique stays!

Thankfully you won’t have to commit a crime to stay in these correctional facilities and this time, hopefully, you won’t want to escape your prison hotel!

Nic posing in front of YHA Fremantle Prison in Fremantle, Western Australia.
Just another Pommy convict getting ready to be locked inside Fremantle Prison!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Quick Answer: Check Out These EPIC Prison Hotels

Christchurch, NZ
Christchurch, NZ

Jailhouse Accommodation

  • > Great Location
  • > Free Parking
  • > Communal Games Room
  • > Great For Those on a Budget
Oxford, UK
Oxford, UK


  • > Features Original Architecture
  • > Breakfast Available
  • > Central Location
  • > Offers Duplex Suites
Mount Gambier, Australia
Mount Gambier, Australia

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol

  • > Close to the Blue Lake
  • > Shared Kitchens
  • > Lounge and TV area
  • > Authentic Experience
Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki, Finland

Hotel Katajanokka

  • > Fitness Centre
  • > Close to a Tram Stop
  • > Courtyard View Rooms Available
  • > Very Atmospheric Hotel
Kaiserslautern, Germany
Kaiserslautern, Germany

Alcatraz Hotel

  • > Located Right in the City Centre
  • > Offers Both Proper Prison Rooms and Normal Hotel Style Rooms
  • > Close to Two Ski Lifts
  • > Heaps of Original Features Retained
Ottowa, Canada
Ottowa, Canada

Hi-Ottawa Jail Hostel

  • > Offers Dorms as well as Private Rooms
  • > Authentic Experience with Period Features
  • > Has an Outdoor Garden and Terrace
  • > Serves Breakfast
Bodmin, UK
Bodmin, UK

Bodmin Jail Hotel

  • > Fitness Centre and Gym
  • > Free Parking
  • > Authentic yet Luxurious Vibe
  • > The Chapel Restaurant & Bar is Onsite
Liepaja, Latvia
Liepaja, Latvia

Karosta Prison

  • > Properly Authentic … Maybe Too Much for Some!
  • > Located Close to Plenty of Attractions
  • > Offers a Good Breakfast
  • > Public Transport Nearby
Fremantle, WA, Australia
Fremantle, WA, Australia

YHA Fremantle Prison

  • > Dorms and Private Rooms
  • > Outdoor Courtyard and Table Tennis
  • > Close to Fremantle Markets
  • > Super Authentic Experience
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Celica Hostel

  • > Close to the Bus and Train Station
  • > Located Near the Cool Metelkova Area
  • > Shared Kitchen
  • > Heaps of Activities Organised by the Hostel

What To Expect From a Prison Hotel

When it comes to prison hotels you can forget all your preconceived notions of being thrown into some dingy cell after an MDMA-zing evening gone awry. 

Staying at a prison hotel offers a truly unique and memorable experience that blends history, adventure, and, in many cases, high-end facilities.

Whilst all of the options on our list have retained the majority of their period features and criminal character, they’ve done so in a way that still allows the visitor a level of comfort not afforded to the previous inmates! 

You might be wondering why the hell anyone would want to voluntarily spend the night in gaol, but with a prison hotel, it’s much more than a sleepless evening on a wooden bench! For those seeking more than just a bed for the night, prison hotels offer a chance to literally step into history and experience it in a much more visceral way. 

Interior of a prison hotel
There’s room for everyone here!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Plus, every prison hotel or hostel on our list has, of course, upgraded its cells beyond what an actual prisoner would experience! 

Some of them have gone down the luxurious route, retaining hints of the building’s past whilst upgrading the space into a chic and stylish abode.

Whereas others have gone for a more immersive and authentic experience complete with original doors where breakfast can be served through the hatch, bars on the windows and even proper prison-style beds! 

In the end, there are heaps of incredible options from the subtle to the more extreme end of things. So if the idea of a prison hotel takes your fancy, then check out these 10 options to see which one you wanna try. 

Get BANGED UP – 10 Prisons That Are Now Hotels

So, you’re thinking about checking into a prison hotel, huh? Get ready for an experience that’s as unique as it gets when it comes to finding a place to stay. Thankfully this isn’t Hotel California or an episode of “Banged up Abroad”, so you can, in fact, leave once you check out!

1. Jailhouse Accommodation – Christchurch, NZ

Interior of a jailhouse Accommodation in Christchurch, NZ

Housed in a converted Victorian-era prison dating back to 1874, Jailhouse Accommodation offers an experience that’s totally different to any other hotel in town!

Here you’ll find yourself bunking up in a cosy cell-turned-dorm, complete with original iron bars and high ceilings that kinda unsubtly recall its penitentiary past! Fear not, weary travellers, this isn’t your typical slammer – Addington Prison has been revamped into a vibrant and welcoming space that’s perfect for budget adventurers.

Beyond the cells, you’ll find a host of amenities to make your stay as comfy as can be… unlike being locked up in a Mexican jail because of an unfortunate mix-up with some creatine powder, but I digress! Kick back in the common areas adorned with quirky prison-themed decor or catch a movie in the awesome lounge area.

Plus, with a prime location just a stone’s throw from Christchurch’s bustling CBD, you’ll have easy access to all the sights and sounds the South Island’s biggest city has to offer. In fact, Christchurch is the perfect launching point for all your New Zealand adventures, and it was once where I called home!

Nestled on the East Coast of the South Island it captivates visitors with its unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and a unique culture that blends together traditional English charm and modern Kiwi attitudes.

2. Malmaison – Oxford, UK

Brightly lit hallway with purple lighting at Malmaison prison hotel, UK

Nestled within the historic heart of Oxford, Malmaison beckons travellers with its unique blend of contemporary luxury and old-world charm. Housed within a converted Victorian prison, this boutique hotel offers an unforgettable experience that makes the slammer seem like a good idea!

Step through the imposing iron gates and you’ll be greeted by a stylish fusion of sleek furnishings and original architectural features rather than an orange jumpsuit and a truncheon-wielding guard!

Each room at The Malmaison is a sanctuary of sophistication, featuring plush elegant décor, and thoughtful amenities to ensure a restful stay… a far cry from ending up in lock up after a boozy night in Oxford!

Many of the rooms retain details like bars on the windows and thick sound-proof walls whilst the communal areas feature things like the classic prison landing!

Once you escape the confines of the hotel it’s time to explore the enchanting city of Oxford. Known for its prestigious university, historic landmarks, and charming cobblestone streets, Oxford is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK.

3. The Old Mount Gambier Gaol – Mount Gambier, Australia

Stone facade of the Old Mount Gambier Gaol, featuring a grand arched doorway, located in Mount Gambier, Australia

Located in the heart of Mount Gambier, this historic building has been transformed into a quirky hotel that’s perfect for those seeking a thrilling addition to their bucket list adventures.

Dating back to 1866 The Old Mount Gambier Gaol offers a range of options, from dormitory-style rooms to private cells – yeah, you heard that right! You can stay in an actual cell! Pretty sick! 

Once you’ve wandered through the historic stone archway into the main yard you’ll be transported back in time, so put on your best Aussie accent and pretend like your ancestors stole a loaf of bread in Victorian London!

Thankfully each cell has been renovated to provide you with all of the home comforts you’d miss if you were actually banged up whilst still retaining that old-world charm. Plus, guests can take a guided tour of the gaol to learn about its fascinating past.   

Once you slip the guards you can explore the area in more detail. Mount Gambier is a really hidden Aussie gem and one of the most surreal places in the world. From the enchanting Blue Lake to the dazzling Umpherston Sinkhole, this town is bursting with heaps of natural wonders.

4. Hotel Katajanokka – Helsinki, Finland

brightly lit room at Hotel Katajanokka, Helsinki, Finland

If you’re looking to up the ante and enjoy luxury like only a banged-up celebrity could hope for, then check out this converted prison dating back to 1837.

Sitting in the heart of Katajanokka, a trendy Helsinki neighbourhood where you can channel your inner beefed-up crim at the onsite gym. Whilst the rooms might still have the original prison doors and iron bars up at the windows, the rest of the space is pure chic comfort

Each room features a flat-screen TV, writing desk, minibar and kettle, so if you feel like cooking up a bit of Prison Ramen or writing a letter home, then you can do it from here! Thankfully you don’t need to as there is a classy restaurant serving Finno-Scandinavian local food in the basement of this old county jail. 

The tram stops right outside of Hotel Katajanokka so you can easily get into the city centre in 10 minutes. From here you can explore all Helsinki has to offer, from its bustling markets and architectural wonders to its stunning coastal landscapes and beautiful islands. You can even take a ferry over to Tallinn in Estonia for the day too.

5. Alcatraz Hotel – Kaiserslautern, Germany

A woman seated with her laptop on her lap in a prison hotel room.

Inject a bit of fun into your trip to Germany by staying in this awesome Alcatraz-themed hotel. Dating from 1867, it’s not all for show either, this converted correctional facility is Germany’s first prison hotel and offers an up-close look at life on the inside.

Here the intrigue of the infamous island penitentiary meets the charm of Bavarian hospitality… you can even get breakfast served through the hatch of an original prison door if you like! 

Rooms are kept “cell style” to retain an authentic experience for guests. There are barred windows, original prison beds that were made by inmates and even a little washbasin and toilet in the room! Thankfully the beds now come with comfortable bedding and there’s wifi access in each room, so no need to sneak your phone in! 

Kaiserslautern itself is a pretty off-the-beaten-track experience in Southwest Germany that offers a wide range of activities from skiing in the nearby mountains to exploring ruins of ancient castles. Plus, there’s enough sausage and beer to brighten up even the worst of days!! Ok, now that was criminal!

6. Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel – Ottawa, Canada

A small room with bunk beds and a desk in Hi-Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ottowa, Canada
This could easily be a 2 bed flat in London going for £2000 per month.

This hostel in Ottawa is giving a whole new meaning to the term “lockdown” – but don’t worry, this time you don’t have to shove a cotton swap up your nose, well, unless you enjoy that sort of thing! Instead, you can spend the night behind bars without actually getting on the wrong side of the law.

Each room is set up as authentically as possible with the original prison doors, bars at the window and jailhouse-style bunk beds! Every corner of the Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel tells a story of its colourful past with many of the rooms having details of its past inmates on the outside!

Even the shower rooms are prison-themed with iron bars locking the entrance… just don’t drop the soap! There’s also a great breakfast here that is certainly better than previous occupants could have expected! 

The location of the hostel is perfect too, being just 2km from The University of Ottawa and Chateau Des Charmes Wines. Ottawa itself, the capital of Canada, has a lot to offer any visitor who manages to tunnel out of the prison.

Despite its status as a political hub, Ottawa offers so much more including a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Although, one of the city’s must-see attractions is the stunning Gothic Revival buildings on Parliament Hill.

7. Bodmin Jail Hotel – Bodmin, UK

A long hallway with a row of yellow doors on either side in Bodmin Jail Hotel, UK

Cornwall might be known for its pristine beaches and sleepy villages, but Bodmin has always had an eerie side. Nearby Bodmin Moor is steeped in history, folklore, and myths, with tales of ghosts and mysterious beasts wandering the ancient ruins that dot the hillsides.

So, why not go all in and spend a few nights in the local slammer that dates back to 1779? There’s sure to be a few wandering spirits roaming the hallways of an evening… or is that Dave from Accounts after a wild night in Newquay? 

Don’t be fooled by the ancient exterior, this is one of the fanciest hotels on our list! The interior has been tastefully redeveloped to retain all its character features whilst providing guests with a modern, comfortable and stylish experience.

Whilst the stone walls and iron bars remain, the beds have thankfully been swapped for more comfortable replacements! Another cool feature is that inside each room are plaques detailing previous inmates who have shared your room! (Your friendly editor couldn’t resist chiming in to express excitement because this is absolutely MADDD!)

There’s even a gym at this prison hotel, so you can show your fellow convicts, erm, I mean guests, who’s boss on the bench press! The hotel is located in a quiet area of Cornwall not far from the moors, whilst at the same time being close to the airport and public transport. There are heaps of awesome activities to do around here from hiking and cycling to heading out to explore the stunning coastline of Cornwall.

8. Karosta Prison – Liepaja, Latvia

a prison hotel room with a while bed against black walls adorned with steel fixtures.

In for a penny, in for a pound, well, that’s what we say up North anyway, basically if you’re going to do something, do it properly! With the Karosta Prison, you’ll be in for an authentic experience, which, in all honestly, might not be to everyone’s tastes. But if it is, then you’ll be in for a truly unique Eastern European experience.

From the imposing guard towers to the eerie cells, complete with original beds and scrawlings on the walls, this place is the real deal. They even still have staff wearing guard uniforms and areas of the hotel are made up to be exactly how they would have been during the Soviet era.

I’m not gonna lie, this place is legitimately pretty creepy, but that’s all part of the experience. Don’t come here expecting a normal hotel, or even a prison hotel like the others on the list, this is so much more!

Liepaja itself is a real hidden gem when it comes to exploring Latvia. Often referred to as the “The city where the wind is born” it is situated on a beautiful spot on the Baltic Coast. Liepaja combines the charming cobbled streets of the fairytale towns and cities of Latvia with white sandy beaches and fascinating history. One of the most interesting spots in the WWI fortifications right on the coast.

9. YHA Fremantle Prison – Fremantle, WA, Australia

Guests standing outside their accommodations at YHA Fremantle Prison in Fremantle, WA, Australia

Staying in a prison doesn’t have to be expensive, instead with this hostel in Fremantle, it’s super affordable. I mean, granted, it’s not as cheap as actually ending up in the slammer overnight, but it doesn’t come with the legal fees, so it kinda balances itself out!

Built in the 1850s, the Fremantle Prison is actually one of the main things to see in the town and the hostel occupies what was the womens division of this World Heritage-listed site. The other half is a museum! 

Rather than bunking up with a hardened criminal, or in the case of Fremantle prison, convicts transported from the UK, you’ll be sharing a room with fellow backpackers instead. Whilst it might be a bit more basic than some of the other offerings, it does mean it retains some of its jailhouse charms! Plus, there’s even table tennis in what was an exercise yard! 

Location wise it’s perfect. Of course, it’s literally joined on to the prison museum, which is a must-visit in Freo. The town itself is within easy walking distance where you can check out the famous markets, stunning Bathers Beach and buzzing port. If you’re a fan of AC/DC, you’ll find a statue of the late Bon Scott here too.

10. The Celica Hostel – Ljubljana, Slovenia

small prison hotel room with white walls and wooden furnishings in The Celica Hostel - Ljubljana, Slovenia

Another budget offering, we’re finishing off our list with a real gem.

Housed in a former military prison, this Ljubljana hostel offers a creative twist on the theme. Each room has been uniquely designed by local and international artists to reflect the history of the building. Many of the rooms offer up not only fascinating murals and colour schemes but imaginative sleeping arrangements too! 

Outside of the cells, they have also created some awesome social spaces, both inside and outside the prison walls. One of which includes hammocks in what would have been a yard, talk about a vibe switch! There are also a few different restaurants, cafes and a bar on site, so no prison grub here, well, unless you decide to cook for yourself in the kitchen that is! 

The location is super cool too being right next to the autonomous zone of Metelkova. Once a military barracks complex, Metelkova was abandoned in the early 1990s and subsequently occupied by artists, activists, and alternative communities seeking a space for self-expression and creativity.

Ljubljana itself is one of my favourite cities in Europe. The laid-back capital of Slovenia is great to explore on foot with a charming Old Town and ancient castle perched above.

Wherever You Roam, Travel Insurance is Essential!

All kinds of things can happen when you travel, and they do happen. Be sure to consider some quality travel insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure!

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

FAQ About The Best Prison Hotels

Final Thoughts on The Best Prison Hotels

Righty oh then folks, there you have it! I bet you never thought you’d be so desperate to be banged up abroad as you are now!? Hopefully, we’ve shown you that prison isn’t always such a bad place to end up when you’re on holiday, that is when it’s by choice of course!

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay in a heritage building where the remnants of its penitentiary past are all but hints once you’re tucked up in bed or a full-on experience where you feel transported back in time.

We’ve covered it all here! So let your adventurous side run wild and book a stay in one of the best prison hostels in the world, trust me, you’ll love it!

What do you think? Are you keen on spending a few nights in the slammer?

metal gate leading into Fremantle Prison, Australia
Looks like a great place to spend the night, right!?
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
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