- A viral tweet spawned criticism for the prison-turned-hotel Malmaison Oxford and some of its guests.
- One travel influencer told Insider she thought the hotel did a good job preserving the site.
- There are several other hotels worldwide transformed from prisons.
A British hotel has come under fire on social media after a viral tweet called out how it was converted from a prison and derisively called it an “influencer hotel.”
The online discussion started when comedian and podcast host Anna Seregina tweeted about the Malmaison Oxford hotel on Monday, attaching a number of screenshots of Instagram pictures featuring women posing in the hotel corridors, as the Daily Dot first reported.
“Found a prison that has been converted into a luxury hotel,” Seregina wrote. The tweet spread on Monday and Tuesday, garnering over 19,000 likes and more than 4,000 retweets, with dozens of commenters and quote-tweeters criticizing the hotel and the Instagram creators who stayed at it.
—Anna Seregina (@touchingcheeses) September 20, 2021
As the tweet spread, people criticized the hotel for turning a prison space into a boutique hotel. Some were frustrated that travel influencers made light of the hotel’s history by making jokes referencing prisons in their Instagram captions.
“My god they’ve gentrified the penal system,” one Twitter user wrote.
The facility, run by the Malmaison boutique hotel chain, is part of the Oxford Castle & Prison tourist attraction. The hotel’s website explicitly bills it as “better than your average prison” and urges visitors to “enquire about their jailhouse break activity.”
The “95 rooms and suites were once your average basic cell,” the Malmaison Oxford’s website says. “But they’ve done their time and are now reformed as luxurious locations to lay your head, thanks to super-fast Wi-Fi, super-comfy beds and powerful drench showers you’ll want to surrender to.”
Several images circulating on Twitter were originally posted on Instagram in June by the travel influencer @nuriatravels, or Nuria, who has 59,000 followers.
“Just spent the night in prison and I loved it!” reads the caption of one of the images. The picture showed her posing on a half-glass bridge in a picturesque section of the Malmaison Oxford hotel.
Nuria told Insider that she believes in historical building preservation and thinks that the Malmaison Oxford successfully preserved the site while still renovating it. She said Malmaison invited her and she “really enjoyed the stay,” and thought the rooms were “beautifully made.”
Other travel bloggers have referenced the hotel’s history as a prison in Instagram captions.
Seregina, whose tweet about the hotel went viral, told Insider that she found the hotel — including “the flirty lighting” — to be “abhorrent,” and pointed toward organizations that support incarcerated people like A New Way of Life, which provides legal services, care, and housing for women after they leave prison.
The hotel was once a castle almost 1,000 years ago before it was made into Her Majesty’s Prison Oxford, which lasted until 1996 when the prison space was converted into a luxury hotel, as Insider previously reported.
Some of the hotel suites are named after former prison governors, according to On the Luce.
There are numerous other cases of prisons transformed into luxury hotel spaces, including Boston’s Liberty Hotel, which used to be the Charles Street Jail, and the Unitas Hotel in Prague, Czech Republic, which was formerly a prison space used by the country’s Secret Police, as Business Insider reported.
The Malmaison Oxford did not respond to a request for comment.
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