Thankfully most of us will never know what it is like to spend a night behind bars, however thanks to the Malmaison Oxford Hotel people are now paying for the privilege.
The building in question started life as Oxford Castle in 1073, and was demolished and rebuilt over the years before being turned into a Victorian jail in the late 1600’s. It stayed as a prison until 1996 when it closed down and the building was sold off by Oxfordshire County Council to the Malmaison hotel chain.
The brand premise of Malmasion is ‘Hotels that dare to be different’, so it was to no surprise that large parts of the prison were left largely unchanged.
The hotel has a mixture of rooms, with suites named after former prison governors and modern rooms in the adjoining buildings. However if you’re wanting to spend the night in prison then you really want to be staying in one of A-wing’s converted cells. Rooms are made up of three cells knocked through – one is the bathroom and two have been knocked through for the bedroom. They still have a lot of character though, with original iron doors, vaulted ceilings and thick walls, making it incredibly quiet.
It is a lot more luxurious now though, decorated in deep reds and browns with a big comfy bed, flat-screen TV, iPod dock and free wifi, and the room is big enough to have a table and chairs to sit at too.
Bathrooms generally come with a roll-top bath and a big walk-in shower, tons of soft towels and full-size toiletries which in a nice touch are marked ‘Steal me’ in a homage to past residents.
As well as the old cells, the original wrought iron stairs and landing still remain, as does the exercise yard.
As for food and drink, you can take a drink at the neon-lit cocktail bar, or sit down in the brasserie under old pipes and steel staircases, or outside in the previously mentioned exercise yard in summer, to enjoy fresh, locally-sourced food from a menu of British classics, European dishes and grills.
And this isn’t out in the middle of nowhere either. In fact it is almost central meaning it is very handy for people wanting to get out and explore the City and the surrounding area.
The owners of the Malmaison in Oxford are hoping once you’ve stayed the night it’s a place where you might just want to be a repeat offender.
For more information or to book please visit their website here.