Thailand: Prison-themed hotel in Bangkok offers ‘life behind bars’

A hotel guest wearing prisoner uniform poses for a 'mugshot'. Source: Reuters

HAVE you ever wondered what it would be like to live in the shoes of a convicted criminal?

Wonder no more. You can now experience life behind bars at Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel – all without having to break the law.

With its narrow rooms, metal bars and bunk beds, the hostel promises the look and feel of a real jail in the bustling Thai capital.

A hotel guest wearing a prisoner’s uniform walks inside the Sook Station Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel in Thailand. Source: Reuters

Nestled in Bangkok’s Udom Suk neighborhood, The Sook Station hostel offers guests pin-striped pyjamas for THB700 (US$21) and a wall with a height chart where they can have their mugshots taken.

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The nine-room hostel is the first foray into the hospitality industry for Sittichai Chaivoraprug, 55, and his wife Piyanat Teekavanich, 49, after leaving careers in the technology sector.

They were inspired by a shared love of travel and the 1994 prison escape film The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

Hotel guests wearing prisoner uniform spend time on the deck of the Sook Station Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel Thailand, August 2, 2017. Source: Reuters

“People love it or hate it,” Sittichai told Reuters, adding most bookings came by word of mouth.

Some guests like Yui, a 42-year-old hotel worker, are repeat customers.

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“I feel it’s a real prison because when I arrived it was dark,” Yui said. Now on her third stay, she said the hostel’s style and friendly staff “feels like home”.

The hostel’s design includes black-out doors and windows in two rooms to create the feeling of being in solitary confinement. Showers are located on a caged-in rooftop.

For claustrophobic guests, seven rooms have a small balcony.

Thailand expects to welcome almost 35 million foreign tourists – nearly half the country’s population – in 2017. Many of them visit or transit through Bangkok, a regional travel hub.

Sook Station charges between THB790 to THB1,630 baht (US$24-US$49) a night.

Additional reporting by Reuters