Believe it or not! After the release of all prisoners and thanks to successful renovations and tasteful design, places, which once served as a shelter for inmates, have now become relaxing accommodations where elegance and comfort prevail. These five ‘colorful’ and exclusive hotels are located in old prisons in England, Holland, Norway, Turkey and the United States (We must clarify that it is not necessary to have committed a crime to stay in them).
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
An old prison in the historic district of Sultanahmet, in the heart of Istanbul, is now a stylish and modern hotel. Many of its 65 rooms and suites offer spectacular views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. All rooms have cable TV, DVD, wireless Internet, safe, minibar and luxurious marble bathrooms with tub and separate shower. A restaurant located in the quiet interior garden, a bar and a spa complete the amenities of this hotel, where you definitely will not feel imprisoned.
Boston, United States
Completed in 1851, the building, originally known as the Charles Street Jail, was the collaborative work of Gridley James Fox Bryant, considered the most notable Boston architect of the time, and the Rev. Louis Dwight, a prison system reformer, educated at Yale. This historic building in the shape of a cross is considered one of the best examples of the Boston Granite Style from the mid-nineteenth century. What once were barred cells, today have become 300 rooms and 10 suites overlooking the Charles River. The hotel opened in 2007, and its bar, the Clink is a must while in Boston.
The Oxford Castle Prison was located on the same university town where famous literary figures such as Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde and J. R. R. Tolkien taught and studied. The site has been recovered as the luxurious Malmaison Hotel. Instead of the dark cells, today you’ll find 95 well-appointed rooms and suites, with all the comforts for a very unique stay: large beds, soft lighting, hot tub and shower and 24-hour room service, among many other amenities. The Malmaison also boasts a stylish restaurant, the Brasserie, and the Malbar is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing cocktail. The large private dining room can host up to 30 guests.
Het Arresthuis Hotel
The Het Arresthuis Jail opened in 1862 and served as a prison until 2007, when it was transformed into a peaceful and elegant hotel. There are 40 rooms decorated in neutral tones. The courtyard, where prisoners performed forced labor, has been turned into an outdoor cafe with comfortable, plush sofas and a terrace surrounded by olive trees. The hotel also features an herb garden, a bar, sauna, gym and restaurant.
This old prison, where Norwegian thieves and criminals were locked up, has a privileged location: the heart of Tjuvholmen, the new art district near the iconic Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. Most of its 118 rooms have spectacular views of one of the trendiest and most modern urban areas in Europe. Timeless elegance with clear references to art and contemporary design characterize the decoration and furnishings of The Thief. The Norwegian team composed by Antonio Citterio, Bruno Rainaldi, Tom Dixon and Stokke Austad was in charge of the meticulous renovations of the former prison. The hotel’s superb restaurant dishes out exquisite Norwegian cuisine, and during the summer months, guests can enjoy cocktails and lite bites on the charming rooftop terrace. A new spa is scheduled to debut in 2014 for the delight of their guests. ■