Never thought I’d ever come close to checking into a prison cell for the night, let alone voluntarily. But, while in Oxford we stayed at the kick-ass Malmaison hotel – the former medieval Oxford castle, later HM Prison and now a gorgeous boutique hotel, right in the heart of Oxford. The architects kept many of the original features, so you can stroll to your room down some admittedly narrow suspended metal walkways, and look out over the Oxford castle walls as you sip a cup of tea. The original features also mean original levels of insulation, but the lovely hotel staff will provide you with a portable heater if you ask nicely.
The best part about the stay was the tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Porridge for breakfast (although I assume they have rather improved on the recipe since prison days), visitors are actively encouraged to steal the hotel soap home, and the shower gel bottle tells me that this one is better than what I have at home. It probably is.
This has definitely been the best practical history lesson I have ever been on. So if you are ever visiting Oxford, book your cell and get locked up for the night.