Sing sing, the slammer, porridge - whatever you call it, prison isn't usually a place where you'd want to spend the night; but add a couple of mattresses and a lick of paint and old jailhouses become a little more appealing for the weary traveler. Here's the Jamble Magazine guide to the world's best recycled prison hostels.
HI Ottawa Jail Hostel - Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa's Carleton County Jail operated for over 100 years, and now travelers can stay in twin cells, dorms in the former hospital wing, or the more spacious warden's quarters. One floor of the Victorian jail has been left un-renovated in order for visitors to experience true prison life, and regular guided tours include visits to death row and the gallows. The Hostel also has a great location, close to many of Ottawa's most popular museums and attractions.
Jailhouse Backpackers - Christchurch, New Zealand
The former Addington prison, built in the 1870's, was converted into a backpacker hostel in 2006, and now offers dorm rooms, single and twin rooms in the old cells - all fairly spacious and stylishly decorated. The Jailhouse also has a great self catering kitchen, a big screen TV room, and offers FairTrade and organic coffee in its cafe. The hostel doesn't boast the most central location, but Christchurch city center is still a walkable distance, and a free shuttle service to the train station is provided.
Hostel Celica - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Guests at the Celica can choose between 20 renovated cells, each decorated by a different team of artists. The barred doors and tiny escape proof windows still remain in many of the cells, but in others, wooden bunk beds and additions such as a miniature brick fireplace have been added. As well as the cells, the hostel, which has a great location in the center of Ljubljana, also has small and large dorm rooms, an upstairs apartment with its own bathroom, and its own bar - where live music jam sessions take place every week.Book at Hostelworld
Långholmen Hostel - Stockholm, Sweden
Langholmen, a small island in the middle of Stockholm, was home to the Crown Remand Prison for over 130 years. In 2008 the prison was converted and a few extra home comforts were added to the cells, and now guests can choose to stay in cells with TV, wi-fi and showers. Guests can also tour the prison museum or have a drink in a pub converted from a 17th Century manor house; and its only a short trip over the bridge to reach the rest of Stockholm's attractions.Book at Hostelworld
Napier Prison Hostel, Napier, New Zealand
To offer guests a full prison experience the cell rooms at this hostel are still sparsely decorated and come with double beds and an in-room toilet. Guests can also stay in a dorm room, take a prison tour, which includes a visit to the hanging yard, and get their prison mugshot taken. The hostel also offers bicycle hire, and perhaps its best feature is the wonderful Centennial Gardens, built in an old quarry where ex-inmates excavated the stone that built the prison walls.www.napierprison.com