You have to love some of the things that come across your screen when you’re trolling the internet. When I saw a link to former prisons that had been converted to hotels, I had to see if there was one in my area.
Since I have no plans to travel abroad, the closest prison-turned-hotel is The Liberty Hotel, formerly Charles Street Jail, located in Boston, Massachusetts. When we took our Halloween trip to Salem in 2015, I planned a side adventure to check out the location.
Let’s just say that driving in Boston makes Philadelphia traffic look tame in comparison. There is no logic to how the streets are designed, and I was quite happy to be a backseat driver. Getting there was not half the fun in this case. We pulled into the hotel and parking immediately was a problem. We explained to a very accommodating valet that we weren’t guests, but we only wanted to explore the building and take a few pictures, hoping he could direct us to suitable parking. We weren’t planning to be long. He told us to take our time, and backed our car into a close spot for safekeeping until we were finished visiting.
The façade of The Liberty is imposing. It looks like a stone fortress with its tall windows still covered with metal bars. I noted that construction on the original jail commenced on my birthday, way back in 1848.
The interior of the hotel is just as impressive as the exterior. To enter The Liberty Hotel, visitors must take a small escalator to the lobby floor. The lobby is huge, one glance toward the ceiling shows the enormity of the structure. The atrium is 90 feet from the floor to the ceiling. The former catwalks are still visible and quite striking.
In a corner, just past the concierge, is a brief history of the property. A companion DVD that can be purchased plays above the display. The Liberty Hotel has no real gift shop which was disappointing, but the DVD came home with me, along with a teddy bear in a striped convict outfit.
We ventured inside Clink, a restaurant on The Liberty’s lobby floor. We took photos even though we weren’t able to dine there due to time constraints.
At the time of our visit, Alibi, The Liberty’s lounge, was not open. As it is separately managed from the hotel, we were unable to access it for photos. We tried to take pictures from the entrance through glass. Throughout the lounge, on original jail walls, hang celebrity mugshots.
Scampo’s is an Italian restaurant inside the hotel, and Catwalk is a bar. There is also the Liberty Bar and The Yard. We did not see any of these while we were there. Our visit was brief because we didn’t want to take advantage of the parking attendant’s kindness in watching our car for free.
After a quick trip through the common areas, we left. I would love to stay there someday, not in the new section, but in one of the rooms that still has parts of a jail wall remaining. The hotel has undergone some renovations since our visit, and if you’re ever in the Boston area, be sure to take an informal tour of The Liberty Hotel.