Amazing Places

When You Have Too Many Prisons, Turn Them Into Hotels

There's a hotel in the Netherlands just outside of Amsterdam, where you can upgrade your room to suites called "The Jailer" and "The Judge." No, this isn't just a quirky theme—these rooms were once detention cells and the hotel itself was a prison. It's called Het Arresthuis, Dutch for "house arrest," and it's one of the Netherlands' answers to their big prison problem.

Not Enough Crime?

In a stark contrast to the United States' issue of overcrowded prisons, the Netherlands have too many prisons and too few criminals to fill them. Yes, seriously—they've even accepted prisoners from Norway and Belgium. Due to a decade-long drop in the incarceration rate, more than 19 prisons have closed in the past few years. While the Netherlands' crime rate has dropped 25 percent over the past eight years, Travel + Leisure notes that "some argue that the main reason behind the drop is the closings of police stations across the country."

Either way, the Netherlands has a bunch of empty prisons available for rent, and some entrepreneurs are getting pretty creative—some have been transformed into asylums, others have become housing for Syrian refugees. They also have the luxury hotel option. Het Arresthuis in Roermond is so swanky that you might forget you're staying at a former prison...that is, until you reach your room—they kept the original jail cell doors. (So on theme.)

Prison Posh

The Het Arresthuis was opened in 1863 and served as a prison for 150 years until a revamp from Dutch hotel company Van der Valk converted 105 prison cells into 40 suites. Thankfully they're much roomier than the sleeping quarters offered to the original tenants.

Check out your bedroom, but don't get locked in! Just kidding. You probably wouldn't mind being stuck in these luxurious suites as they're fitted with the works: free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, etc. etc. The hotel says it offers a "surprising 'turn down' service," so we're not sure if that means they show up and flip your mattress for contraband or something. If you were to check in today, you can get a room for €216, or about $246 before tax.

In the cell block hallway, you'll find a lounge with colorful seating options, and out in the courtyard, a cafe and terrace offer gourmet food and outdoor dining. Other entertainment includes an herb garden, a sauna, and several bars of a very different variety than those that once lined all the windows. (Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves)

If you don't live in the Netherlands, the prison-turned-hotel trend is making waves in other European cities. The Malmaison Hotel in Oxford, England began as a castle, was converted into a Victorian prison, and is now a luxurious accommodation with swanky rooms and a restaurant underground in the once solitary confinement wing. And in Helsinki, Finland, the in-demand Hotel Katajanokka features modernized rooms that once housed in remand prisoners awaiting sentencing, including Finland's wartime president Risto Ryti. Ryti's room is the only one that still has its window bars.

Count us in for a visit -  it's the only overnight we'll ever be spending in prison.

Netherland Prison Becomes Luxury Hotel

Written by Curiosity Staff July 1, 2017

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