I don’t think there are many things that can top the unique-ness of staying the night in a renovated 18th century prison!
Located in Bodmin in the heart of Cornwall, Bodmin Jail itself is a popular attraction for those interested in the dark history of the 17oos Prison Reform era, but the hotel behind is something you certainly wouldn’t expect to find in this kind of building…
Despite the prison being out of use since 1927, the near-derelict structure underwent a £50million refurbishment to create this new 70 room luxury hotel, which opened in February 2021. The architects and designers on this project did an incredible job of marrying the historic character of the jail with a modern, comfortable style. It definitely has the wow factor!
Even just entering to the front of the hotel, you go in via a high prison-walled driveway into the car park, to be met with the dramatic exterior stone walls with barred cell windows, alongside super modern black & glass.
And walking inside is no less impressive! The main wing as you enter has retained the layout of the old prison with a large atrium roof and internal balcony corridors. I’ve never been inside an actual prison before, but it definitely looked like what I’d seen in movies & TV. They’ve highlighted the most interesting original features like the stone walls, cell doors (!) and even the old stone staircases to the end of the building (not currently in use but still on show); playing on the unique theme but without feeling sterile or uncomfortable.
The hotel feels luxurious but I also love that they are dog friendly too! We brought our pups along with us, staying in a dog friendly room on the ground floor. This is great as there are so many great dog walking spots in this area of Cornwall, including the Camel Trail (literally cross the road from the hotel & you’re on it!), Camel Valley, Lanhydrock (just a 7 minute drive away), and of course – Bodmin Moor!
Going to your room is definitely an experience; depending on which type of room you’re staying in, they’re essentially made up of around 3 of the old jail cells knocked together, and the old cell doors are still there lining the corridors too. Inside, the decor is striking & contemporary, and we loved the exposed brickwork walls, rounded cell ceilings and of course – the barred windows!
Another cool feature was the plaque on the wall telling you about one of the prisoners that would have stayed in this cell. Ours was Josiah who was jailed for 14 years for stealing a chicken… madness!
The bathrooms are stunning as well, with underfloor heating and all modern fixtures – the shape and stone walls combined with the atmospheric lighting in here made it feel really cosy. The perfect spot for a relaxing bath.
I had a few questions on Instagram while I was sharing Stories during our stay whether we felt freaked out or scared at all during our stay, as there are lots of rumours about the jail being haunted! It’s true that people were executed here, and it was home to murderers and other hardened criminals over 100 years ago, but in my opinion that all adds to the experience and interest of staying somewhere like this. It feels more serene here than it does creepy, thanks to style and modern-ness of the renovation, so no need to worry!
In terms of eating and drinking, Bodmin Jail Hotel has a bar and its ‘Chapel Restaurant’ which offers a fine dining experience in a gothic renovated chapel setting, and the food here looks amazing! Dogs aren’t allowed in this restaurant though, so we ate in the ‘Jolly Hangman Tavern’ – the hotel’s casual dining restaurant- instead for a more relaxed dinner.
Would you stay in this refurbished prison hotel? Check out the Bodmin Jail Hotel website for more info.
*We were kindly hosted for a complimentary stay in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own. This is such a unique, epic place!