I like my creature comforts when I travel. But I’m also trying to broaden my horizons. I’m looking for new places to go, new adventures, a little motivation and encouragement to try something a little different and off the beaten path. It’s not so much that I’m in a rut, as that I want to make sure that I don’t get into one.
Maybe that’s why my pal Jon sent me information about this KGB Hotel in Liepaja, Latvia. Either that, or it’s because I mentioned that when I get home from traveling, I become somewhat of a recluse, not wanting to see anyone or leave the house.
This hotel, however, sounds like one that I’d be most anxious to leave. It bills itself as “unfriendly, unheated, and uncomfortable,” but it’s open all year “˜round. You can read a first hand experience of the hotel this Guardian article. But seriously, it’s managed by the KGB (headquarters photo at right). They took over management of the hotel in the 1970’s.
It’s a real prison, and your hotel experience will include simulations of many of the experiences of its former occupants: cement floors, rusty water, toilets in the floors. You’re definitely not going to see this hotel listing on any “best of” list. Local actors fill the roles of the prison guards, matrons, and investigators. Ironically, some of the actors are former prison guards.
Unlike previous occupants of the prison, though, guests now start their sentence at 9 pm and are paroled at 2:30 am. You can opt to sleep over until the 7:30 am check out time, or leave as soon as your cell opens.
So who goes to prison? Evidently it’s a very popular choice for stag parties, college kids, and is gaining popularity as a leadership-team building exercise. Most of the visits, though, are shorter stays (2 hours) for school groups. They seem to be building a bit of a travel adventure niche; last year, the prison was host to over 21,000 guests.
The whole things sounds a little stark to me. Hmmmmm, maybe I need to work on being a little more social. This isn’t the kind of solitary confinement that I’d enjoy.
Photo credit: flickr