A few weeks ago I spent the night by myself in a prison cell. Need proof?
Don’t worry, they haven’t yet caught up with me for stealing all those cats. Instead, I was staying the night at Clink78, a funky youth hostel in Kings Cross, central London.
According to the website, the hostel appeals to ‘discerning student and adult backpackers; college and university groups; impoverished students; Dickens-loving punks; nostalgic ex-convicts and un-pigeonhole-able people’.
Now, I consider myself none of these – I’d much rather an en-suite room in a luxury hotel – but my background as a history student got the better of me. You see, Clink 78 is housed within a former courthouse which is home to 200 years of history – including original prison cells which have been turned into private rooms complete with a bunk bed. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live like a criminal for one night.
Well, almost like a criminal. Although slightly smaller than I expected it to be, my prison cell was actually rather comfy. Although original features, such as a heavy metal door with hatch, barred window and a steel toilet (which you can’t actually use) are still inside the cells, the rooms are infused with colourful paintings so as to make the whole experience a little less spooky. And, thankfully, doors can be opened from the inside thanks to a big, green button.
Needless to say, despite all the attempts to make the space a little more welcoming, I still fell asleep with my reading light on.
Staff have worked hard to ensure guests have the full experience. The heavy prison cell doors are still standing, complete with original hatched window (which doesn’t open, thankfully.) The only downside is that it’s quite noisy with all the cell doors opening and closing, and you can hear conversations in the corridor and the rooms next door. It died down a little bit after midnight, but best pack a set of earplugs if you’re looking for an uninterrupted night sleep.
As I settled down to sleep, I could also hear the ‘thump thump’ of the basement bar downstairs. It’s certainly a lively spot for travellers, with live music and DJs often making an appearance to keep the party going on until late. Other on-site facilities include a travel shop (where you can get discounted tickets for various London attractions), a self-catering kitchen plus a TV and film lounge with sofas to get comfy on.
The other good thing is the internet and PC lounge, located in the English Heritage-listed courtroom where punk band The Clash once went on trial for shooting a pigeon. While WiFi is free for your own devices for up to 14 days, internet is accessible on the computers for £1 for 30 minutes, or £2 for an hour. Unfortunately the WiFi signal is open available in common areas, with the prison cell doors proving a little too thick to allow the signal through. This was a bit annoying, but I guess it encourages you to get socialising with all the other travellers.
The private prison cells, suitable for up to two people, are just one accommodation option at Clink 78. Those looking for the dirt-cheap option can bunk in with up to 15 other people in mixed or same-sex dorms, all equally as chirpy with bright walls and funky bunk beds.
The shared bathrooms were clean, with both single-sex and mixed facilities available. I made the mistake of going into the shower room fully dressed before realising I had nowhere to put my clothes while I showered – cue my outfit and pyjamas getting completely soaked. Such a rookie mistake.
Prices also include breakfast which is served between 7am and 10am. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try this as I had to get to work, but the website says that you get an ‘all-you-can-eat breakfast of tea, coffee, cereals and toast’ – so make sure you stock up before a big day of sightseeing!
If you want to see just how my night went, have a little watch of this vlog I put together:
- Private prison cells start from £50 per room per night
- Dorms start from £13 per bed per night
Many thanks to Clink 78 for hosting me for the night. All opinions are, as always, my own.