Bodmin Jail, located in Cornwall, UK welcomes its first residents in nearly 100 years.  This time however, rather than petty thieves and naval prisoners, they are willing hotel guests who can leave whenever they choose.

Built in the 18th century under the reign of King George III, Bodmin Jail was initially home to hundreds of prisoners and the site of gruesome public hangings – back when that was considered a tourist activity. At the turn of the century in 1909, the executions ceased, and so did the prison itself in 1927, when its operations were halted, and the building sold to be demolished.

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While attempts were made to bring down the granite-lined monument, dynamite proved no match for its thick stone walls.  And so, the stony façade lived to tell the tales of the men, women, and later, bats that inhabited each cell.  A London Studio, Twelve Architects was responsible for turning the jail into the modern, luxury hotel it is now.   

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Glass-paneled skylights now brighten up the building’s shadowy past; while carpets soften the hard, storied halls, and modern sleek textures are added to the rough, cobbled walls.  Each suite is decently sized, at least two cells wide with an additional adjoining bathroom.  Their interiors only reflect the $71 million (USD) that refurbished them with Egyptian cotton sheets, a minibar and WiFi.  

The only echo of the rooms’ storied past would be in the original jail bars that slice the natural light filtering in through the windows, and a plaque that indicates each room’s inhabitants a century ago. 

With all its history, it would be remiss to not have attractions for visitors in the hotel.  A new, immersive “Dark Walk” experience has also recently opened for thrill-seeking guests.

Meanwhile, the Chapel now houses other kinds of spirits as it was converted into a bar and restaurant.  As expected, it is elegantly designed with gothic elements, and features a curated menu of Cornish classics. 

For lighter food options, the Jolly Hangman Tavern includes an option for al-fresco dining – perfect since Cornwall breaks the stereotype of UK weather with an average of 7 hours of sunlight per day.

For now, check out some local boutique hotels.  Some with its own fair share of history within their walls.