Fancy a weekend break in jail?
You’ll get a rude and surly welcome at Latvia’s Karosta Prison Hotel, and don’t even think of ringing for room service
You may have stayed in places where the staff is surly and rude, but you rarely expect it. At Latvia ’s Karosta Prison Hotel, it’s the main attraction. Guests at the former military jail cum hotel sign slips giving their permission to have abuse hurled at them throughout their visit.
The deserted naval base town of Karosta (war port in Latvian) was built at the end of the 19th century under the instructions of Tsar Alexander III. It has all sorts of now derelict buildings worth seeing including palace, church, schoolhouse and post office. There are curios such as an officers’ equitation arena and a mail carrier pigeons’ house.
The prison, however, is the star turn, where visitors staying overnight can step into the shoes – and uniform – of inmates of what was an infamous institution during both Tsarist Russia and Soviet times.
Karosta was where convicted military personnel, war captives and political prisoners were held and, in some cases, executed. The prison was closed down in the mid 1990s and left untouched, only to be reborn more than a decade later as a tourist attraction in which “guards” lock residents into their cells at night, and sleep is via a mattress on the floor.
Don’t even think of ringing for room service. That form you signed gives guards permission to quell insubordination not just with insults but with physical punishments such as exercise and cleaning. As if all that weren’t bad enough, the prison is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in Europe. Enjoy.
The hotel is open from May to October.