Where did you get your sights set for this fall getaway? A cozy Airbnb? A cheap and cheerful hostel? Or maybe a luxury hotel that was once a prison?
The Malmaison Oxford, now a chic four-star hotel, was a famous prison from 1888 to 1996, housed in the historic old building of Oxford Castle.
Although the hotel has been popular with visitors since it opened in 2006, it gained new attention this week after a Twitter user, Anna Seregina, posted a series of images on influencer social media and of guests staying at the hotel, with captions ranging from “Prisoner for the Night” to “The Most Beautiful Prison to Lock In!”
The “prison” characteristics of the building are still very visible in the photographs – in particular the aisles of the gallery, now accessorized with glass and purple light.
And it’s not just the influencers showing off the hotel’s old connections. Visit the Malmaison website and he describes the Oxford branch as “better than your average prison”.
The hotel promotes its ‘elegant rooms and suites’ and its ‘divine dinner’, with guests being able to choose between two sleeping options: staying in the modern ‘Correctional House’ or visiting the ‘Wing A’ historic building, which has the vaulted ceilings, thick walls and original iron doors of the prison cells.
Visited by over 70,000 people a year, the castle building is in fact listed by Historic England for its “particular architectural or historical interest considered to be of national importance and therefore worthy of protection” – meaning that its features original cannot be changed.
Nonetheless, Anna Seragina’s post on her current status as an ‘influential hotel’ and branding clearly touched Twitter users, receiving over 3,000 quotes from tweets, many of whom expressed shock at nature. discordant photos posed in a former prison.
One person commented: “How can you spend a vacation there? The amount of pain and suffering that is trapped within these walls… ”.
Malmaison, which is owned by the same company as the Hotel du Vin chain and owns 16 hotels in UK city centers, proudly describes its brand as “hotels that dare to be different”.
“Customers can end up in a converted church, a former prison, a hospital or even a Royal Mail sorting office,” the website says, adding that its customers are “celebrities to us and deserve VIP treatment”.
Before its rebirth as a hotel, Oxford Castle had been used as a prison for eight centuries. it was known as a place of “forced labor”.
It eventually closed in 1996 due to overcrowding – sometimes as many as three people lived in a cell built for one and an inspection found it “substandard”.
We are far from the luxury of Malmaison Oxford. So, would you spend a night in this hotel?
HuffPost UK has contacted Malmaison for comment and will update this article if we receive a response.