A luxury hotel opens its doors in Cornwall, England, in a 250-year-old prison renovated to live a unique experience… On Halloween?
The reinvention of our real estate is always a topic of debate. What if they should be reintegrated into the current environment or the original one; if the new exteriors should be mimetic with the rest or totally differentiable; that if the idea with which it was built should not be sullied or it should be given another more contemporary use… And in this last premise we find the biggest of the pitfalls because… Should the use of an old prison be respected? Bring prisoners back inside? NOT! They yelled loudly in Cornwall… Well, to be fair, the first to yell it was the Mallino Group of Companies who in 2016 acquired ownership of a former prison in Cornwall. Bodmin Prison, more than 250 years old (it was in use between 1779 and 1920) and in which they had a very different use planned: that of a boutique hotel. The Bodmin Jail Hotel.
The new Bodmin jail hotel
To this end, the promoters intended to invest some 50 million pounds, in exchange, almost 83 million euros, a not inconsiderable amount for a very unique project. After a lot of work, this year the hotel has seen the light. A majestic and imposing building that houses 70 luxury rooms, themed and textured; two restaurants and a bar; a gym and many old walls that could tell stories of pain, hope, disappointment, justice, injustice and cruelty… In short, there are even rumors that there could be ghosts!!
The professionals from Twelve Architects were in charge of preparing and carrying out the size of the project. They tell us that they have modified or adapted some 7,500 square meters for the hotel. They also explain to us that the building was classified as Grade II protection, according to English regulations, and that this entails some restrictions, but great freedom of action.
The allure of spending a night in jail
According to them, this heritage asset had been grossly underestimated, referring to its degree of national importance. So turning it into a visitor attraction is one way to restore its historic scale. At the same time, the architects point out that the property can become a reference point for teaching in local schools and universities. Anyway, this is great, but it doesn’t compare to the possibility of spending a night in jail!!
Of course, the rehabilitation respects the best of the building. The powerful stone walls that have allowed its existence until today; the window openings made up of lintels of the same material… In short, everything salvageable has been cleaned, eliminating plant remains and elements about to collapse, to preserve the gloomy, and at the same time imposing appearance of the resounding building.
The roofs, destroyed by the passage of time, have been regenerated with current materials, metal and glass, finished in dark colored tiles. The glass roof allows natural light to enter, recreating the atmosphere of the past, although not quite. And it is that the cells are no longer so narrow (thank goodness), in fact, every three cells (approximately) now make up a luxurious double room.
The wonders of the building and the environment
Wonders to highlight are also the conservation of the original stone ceilings, slightly vaulted to carry out the transmission of forces… What a gift to sleep looking at these ceilings!! Another marvel are some doors from the original prison, which have been able to be rescued and restored, fixing them to the wall, near the current doors, capable of adapting to modern needs (obviously).
The view of the hotel makes your neck ache when you want to glimpse the details of a stone tower that has survived the test of time with dignity. Afterwards, one enters under an access pergola to pass through a narrow vestibule, from which one reaches the central atrium. In it you can feel the reality of the prisoners of yesteryear, metal walkways with mesh railings… a delight!
All the new structures have been clad in dark aluminium, making a strong contrast to the light color of the original elements. As a wink, the colors of the coat of arms of the Duchy of Cornwall have been introduced into the interior design. A pleasant review that reflects the final idea, that all the locals feel comfortable with the new use of the property, and with the prosperity that they hope it will attract.
A museum inside the Cornish jail hotel
One of the attractions of the hotel is the museum in honor of the old jail. In it you can find stories of all kinds and objects that belonged to those who passed through there. The museum has an exterior in the form of stone blocks enclosed in metal cages; a constructive form that pleases for its singular aesthetics.
Actually, the Bodmin prison hotel seems like a good place to spend a pleasant time. But above all, it seems like the ideal place to enjoy a spectacular Halloween, waiting for some ghost from the past to show up and tell us about the torture that happened and other atrocities… Of course, in the luxury restaurant or in the comfortable rooms of 360 euros per night (if possible).
Other companies that participated in the execution of this magnificent construction were Sarner International, experts in attractions; Arup, the most famous engineering company in the Orb; Total Project Integration, project managers (always necessary); Montagu Evans, an asset consultancy; Plan for Ecology, those who help to be ecologically proactive; and Astute Fire, which will prevent you from getting burned in a miscalculation.