Doing (vacation) time: these hotels used to be prisons

Drew Limsky

These days, it’s just not enough to build a shiny new luxury hotel with all the technological bells and whistles. People want stories; they want authenticity—tree houses and cave houses and 15th-century frescoes. I’ve stayed at hotels that used to be ruins and monasteries. One, outside Florence, had a façade by Michelangelo. The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans was once a landmark department store, and the one in DC was formerly an incinerator.

But prison hotels? Now, that’s memorable. They do exist, as this list shows, from New England to Down Under. To varying degrees, they preserve their jailhouse origins. Some go ultra-luxurious; others opt for the bare-bones backpacker route. All capture the imagination. Alcatraz, are you next?