As part of our London Date Weekend Ben and I were treated by the lovely people at Clink 78 to a stay in one of their converted prison cells. I’d heard about these rooms before and loving anything a little bit different and quirky, I placed it firmly on my To Do list, so having the opportunity to stay there was very exciting.
The first thing I want to say is that if the idea of a hostel turns you off, please carry on reading – Clink 78 didn’t feel at all like a hostel to me. Although I was excited about staying there, having never stayed in a hostel before I was a little worried – I like having my own space and the thought of having communal areas with other people played on my mind a little. I had images floating around my head from Holidays-Gone-Bad-style TV programmes, but thankfully all my fretting was unwarranted.
Externally, the building is hugely impressive. An old court house (hence the old prison cells) it has a rich and varied history having seen band The Clash trialled for shooting a racing pigeon, and even having the one and only Charles Dickens working within it’s walls as a scribe – quite an impressive claim I think you’ll agree!
As soon as I walked through the (security coded) doors into the reception, all my hostel-related fears were banished. The space was light, clean and airy with communal seating areas where people could gather to pass the time, and doors leading off to various other areas that residents could make use of – an internet room, dining area, showers and toilets (which were spotlessly clean I have to add!)
The roof of the reception space is domed with beautiful decorative glass, and quotes about travelling and making friends run around the top of the walls.
After checking in (which was really quick and easy with seamless customer service from the staff) we ventured underground to find our room for the night.
As soon as we walked downstairs I was blown away. Although this particular section of the hostel has had the old prison cell doors removed, you can still clearly see the old personality of the building and how it was utilised in it’s former life. I’m a great believer that if a building is converted, some shadow of it’s past should remain. Clink 78 have done this perfectly, adjusting the way this section of the building is used, but the instant you step into the space you can feel it’s history.
Having ventured down to our room we were greeted with an original prison door with all the original fittings (although obviously these are no longer functional for security reasons – access is via keycard). After pulling open the huge, heavy metal door we were greeted with a prison cell as you would expect it to look, although it was definitely smaller than I imagined. Inside there were two bunk beds, a shelf and the old toilet (which has now been repurposed into an uplit table).
This is the view as you lay on the bottom bunk (which was very comfortable, I have to say).
As I lay in this exact position, I thought about the size of the room, the tiny window through which there was no view, and the solitude if you were there alone, unable to walk out of your own free will, and when the lights are turned off at night. Although I was here to review the room as a place to stay for leisure, I was very aware that this was a real prison cell at some point, and the thought of spending a long period of time, locked up for the majority of hours of the day, in a space of this size with none of my creature comforts or the people I love, well, it was quite sobering.
With a variety of room styles available, Clink 78 can provide accommodation for anything for single parties to large groups which can be housed in their dorms. The accommodation was clean, tidy and the staff were extremely helpful. With prices starting from just £13 per bed, per night, or a stay in a prison cell from £50 per night, I definitely recommend this as somewhere worth staying in London. Just a short walk from King’s Cross it’s ideal for venturing around the City and is somewhere truly special and unique.
Check out their website and be sure to add this venue to your To Do list – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
What do you think about spending a night in an old prison cell? Yay or Nay?
* In Association with Clink 78 *
Sleeping In A Prison Cell – Clink 78