Australian prison hotel to offer nights behind bars

Visitors to Australia will soon be able to spend the night behind bars, without the need to get arrested first.

The historic Pentridge Prison, which is located just 8km from central Melbourne, will soon be transformed into one of Australia’s most unique accommodation offerings, with TFE Hotels signing an agreement to operate an Adina Apartment Hotel on the site.

Pentridge Prison dates back to 1851
Pentridge Prison dates back to 1851

The new hotel comprises several elements, including the opportunity to stay in a converted prison cell. The prison’s former chapel will also be transformed into a venue for weddings and functions.

In addition, another building will be constructed on vacant land adjacent to the prison, providing a further nine levels of accommodation, residential apartments and other facilities.

“This hotel will sensitively reopen this historic asset in a way for the entire community to experience and appreciate,” said Anthony Goh, a spokesperson for the Shayher Group, which is redeveloping the prison. “In developing these plans, we have taken inspiration from similar projects in the United States and United Kingdom that have readapted jails into beautiful accommodation, paying tribute to the past by repositioning them for the future.

A rendering of how the new prison hotel could look
A rendering of how the new prison hotel could look

“We have challenged Cox Architects to deliver a design that sets a benchmark in sensitive and adaptive reuse and breathes new life into this historic asset, returning it to the public.”

Rachel Argaman, CEO of TFE Hotels, said the hotel would attract “locals and visitors from overseas” who will be “intrigued to learn about Australia’s penal past”.

“Hotels provide a great way to preserve the history of heritage-listed buildings, allowing unique and memorable experiences for guests who learn and experience aspects of that rich past,” she added.

The hotel is expected to open in 2020, pending planning and heritage permits and construction approvals.  Pentridge Prison dates back to 1851 and housed prisoners until 1997. It once contained the notorious Jika Jika – a “jail within a jail” which housed some of Australia’s most dangerous prisoners.

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