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Could Jails be the New Hot Hotels?

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Karosta Hotel  The Liberty Hotel  Policy Exchange report  Boston''s Charles Street Jail 

Could Jails be the New Hot Hotels?

By - Tuesday 25 June 2013

A night in the slammer may be most people's idea of a nightmare, but hoteliers and policy makers are hoping to attract the few that would consider the experience an attractive novelty. New plans have been put forward by the Policy Exchange to create a series of "super prisons", which would hold as many as 3,000 inmates, freeing up some of the country's oldest institutions to be transformed into boutique hotels.

Notorious jails like Dartmoor, Wormwood Scrubs and Pentonville could be turned into luxury getaways, which can play on their novelty element to attract even more guests, the Guardian reported. The idea isn't a new one either and it has definitely proved popular in the past. In 2005, Malmaison boutique hotel company reopened Oxford prison as part of their chain. The 95-room building was promoted as a "night in the nick" and in the A-wing, original 19th century cells were knocked together to create smart rooms, complete with sound-proof walls, high windows and iron bars.

It isn't just the UK that's making the most of one-time prisons either and in the US, Boston's Charles Street Jail was given a dramatic makeover and renamed The Liberty Hotel. The Karosta Hotel in Latvia has chosen to really ramp up the novelty element, keeping the ex-military prison's cold cells and guards.

However, should old prisons across the country all be turned into hotels there is the chance that the appeal of such an establishment will be lost, The Guardian suggests. After all, the rarity of jail hotels is part of the appeal. What's more, certain locations lend themselves better for hotel trade than others. Dartmoor, for instance, is an ideal spot, thanks to the picturesque surroundings. Popular tourist cities, such as London or Oxford also make for good investments.

Nevertheless, any attempts to preserve old buildings once the super prisons are created will be welcomed. Currently, a quarter of prisons are Victorian or older, while a further quarter were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The Policy Exchange report suggests these were often constructed to poor standards and designed with poor materials. Consequently, much of the UK's prison stock isn't fit for purpose in the modern day penal system.

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