Travel

Slammers with style: 7 former prisons that are now hotels

So you’ve heard about the haunted Latvian prison hotel where you sleep in a cell and are treated like a convict, but how about spending time in the clink without being afraid to drop the soap? Or better yet, wanting to steal it. 'Cause it's luxurious. And you have very dry skin. 

Well, if the thought of a prison-turned-hotel sounds intriguing, here are seven of the world's coolest, ranked by how much you're going to want to break in, rather than break out.

7. Alcatraz Hotel, Kaiserslautern, Germany
Ranking: Hatching escape plans and planning a riot
Open from 1867 until 2002, this former prison features 56 rooms (some of them cells, some of them “comfort style”) and offers the "full inmate experience," complete with optional striped pajamas. Despite no connection to the island of Alcatraz, the hotel's décor randomly pays tribute to its namesake with plenty of pics from San Francisco.
Coolest remaining prison feature: Original inmate-made bed frames, an old prison toilet, and three levels of cells that have yet to be refurnished. Also, the occasional cage.

6. HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel -- Ottawa, Canada
Ranking: Pretty much still prison
Built in the 150-year-old former Carleton County jail (closed in 1972), rooms in this Canadian hostel range from basic bunks to pretty swank doubles. Guests can even take a guided tour of the top floor, which previously housed death row inmates. This may also explain the recent excavation of unmarked graves on hotel grounds.
Coolest remaining prison feature: The ghost of Patrick J. Whelan, who was hung on site in 1869. Many claim to have seen it floating about in his old death-row cell. The original gallows are also fully intact, and functional.

5. Langholmen Hotel -- Stockholm, Sweden
Ranking: Will good behavior get me out of here?
Sitting on its own lush island, this youth hostel and hotel housed Sweden’s most wanted until 1975, and was the site of the country's last execution before abolishing capital punishment in 1921. Today, you can enjoy Swedish meatballs and pickled herring (among other local delicacies) inside the prison's former hospital-turned-restaurant, or take a tour of the onsite museum.
Coolest remaining prison feature: The bars on your windows and the original ladders that joined inmates’ bunks, both of which have been worked into the décor.

4. Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka -- Helsinki, Finland
Ranking: Time served is not hard
Almost 40% of Finland’s prisoners are reported to have passed through this four-winged former county prison and pre-trial detention center before it closed in 2002. In typical Nordic fashion, the 106 rooms (comprised of two to three cells each) are sleek and minimalist, just not in the same sleek and minimalist way that a 75sqft toilet-less cell is.
Coolest remaining prison feature: The towering red brick perimeter wall, which is protected by the National Board of Antiquities.

3. Malmaison Oxford -- Oxford, United Kingdom
Ranking:
This slammer has style
Your time here won't be hard, that’s for sure. What is hard, however, is imagining this swanky boutique hotel as its former jail self (Her Majesty's Prison Oxford, closed in 1996). Rooms converted from three adjoining cells flank the main atrium and feature drench showers, claw foot tubs, plasma TVs, and fancy toiletries.
Coolest remaining prison feature: Thick walls, low ceilings, and original iron cell doors, as well as barred windows that don’t open.

2. The Liberty Hotel -- Boston, MA
Ranking:
We’d commit a crime to stay here
This architectural gem on the edge of Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood was built from local granite in 1851, and served as the Charles Street Jail until 1990; Malcom X once did time here, too. Today, it houses 298 rooms of luxury (19 of which are in a former cell block) alongside five upscale restaurants and bars.
Coolest remaining prison feature: You’ll find vestiges of jail cells all over the hotel, often backlit in neon green, pink, and purple.

1. Four Seasons Sultanahmet -- Istanbul, Turkey
Ranking: Lock me up and throw away the key
Lined with lemon trees, the bright yellow building offers incredible views of both Istanbul's Hagia Sophia basilica and the ocean. Rooms are decked out with antiques, marble floors, and damask fabrics, but little remains of the former jail, which was the first modern prison in the Ottoman Empire’s capital.
Coolest remaining prison feature: Literally none. This hotel is all class and no crime. Ok, so the heavy wooden doors to the lobby and the watch towers remain, as well as an inmate’s inscription on a marble pillar, but otherwise this place looks nothing like a prison.

Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and too afraid of ghosts for any of these. Follow her @Sohostyle