Everyone’s been on a vacation they wish could last forever, but we doubt any traveler would wish to stay anywhere indefinitely or without choice. While they may now be renovated, luxurious escapes, these hotels put properties to use that otherwise would have been raised, demolished, or deserted — namely, jails and mental institutions. Some of these hotels honor the building’s former identity by naming rooms or dishes after it, some simply rebuild where an institution once stood, a few chillingly remind you of the inmates (not guests) that came before, and still others try to forget it all together.
San Clemente Palace Hotel and Resort, a five-star luxury retreat on a private island off of Venice, offers the old-world charm and serenity that vacation-goers seek in Italy. But beneath the exclusive lagoon-front exterior lays its history as a women’s mental hospital. And while Oxford may be better known as home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the swanky town hotel Malmaison was once home to inmates rather than intellectuals in the Victorian era.
If spending a night in jail seems like a novel adventure, then Karosta Prison in Liepaja, Latvia, is the place to get scared stiff (plus, it’s better than actually getting arrested). This former KGB lock up served as an incarcerating institution for regiment-breaching Soviet soldiers and has maintained its hard edge even after the prison became inactive in 1997. Visitors can opt for one of four levels of scariness during their stay — ranging from getting shouted at by hotel staffers to full-on solitary confinement.
Whether you decide to shack up in Boston's Liberty Hotel or at Mount Gambier in southern Australia, the hotels that once kept residents at their wits' end, today ensure a restful stay for all. While this may seem spooky, these hotels are meant to provide comfort and hospitality to their guests — unless otherwise noted.