Niche travel

Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 00:00

If you’re looking for a place to escape to, how about somewhere that thousands of people have dreamt of escaping from? The Liberty Hotel in downtown Boston began life in 1851 as Charles Street Jail and over the next 140 years was home to some of the city’s most notorious criminals.

By the 1970s conditions were so poor that the prisoners revolted. Ultimately they were vindicated and the jail declared unfit for purpose. It took another 20 years, however, before it was finally closed down.

The building reopened its doors in 2007 as The Liberty. The luxury hotel, which is part of the Starwood group, retained the jail’s original cruciform shape with a soaring octagonal atrium at its centre from which radiate four wings. The central atrium is surrounded by three storeys of original prison “catwalks”. Other vestiges of its former life abound, including iron bars on doors and windows and preserved jail cells around which have been built bars and restaurants with names like Clink and Alibi. The latter is housed, fittingly enough, in the jail’s former “drunk tank”. The exercise yard is now a landscaped courtyard.

You can see elements of The Liberty’s past in its overnight packages too, including Bespoke in Boston in which a tailor will come to your room and create a custom-fitted shirt for you. Shades of the prison uniform surely, even if the finished garment doesn’t have arrows all over it.

The Liberty also offers a 50 Shades of Sin package which includes a grey silk tie, a pair of handcuffs and a copy of some book or other. Another prison reference, no doubt.

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