Quirky accommodation in New Zealand – The Jailhouse, Christchurch
Ok ok so I made it sound more dramatic and badass than it was, I didn’t get arrested or anything, I just happened to spend the night in a former prison. The Jailhouse, situated in the suburb of Addington in Christchurch, served as a prison from 1874 to 1999 and has been a backpacker hostel since 2006.
The hostel is clean, warm and friendly yet still retains its eerie prison atmosphere with elements such as the large staircase which is just like you would see in the movies. Also the rooms are all former prison cells – absolutely tiny and claustrophobic. This is not a bad thing as you would be disappointed if they had gone in there and knocked a few walls down while renovating and taken away its quirky appeal.
We stayed in room 21, the coolest thing about it was that right next door in room 20, was the “show room” so to speak. This room has been left untouched and is preserved to how it was after the last prisoner left. You can see the inmate’s art all over the walls, although it is protected by glass, giving it a bit of a museum feel.
There’s also another cell at the back of the building which has been left in its jailhouse state and really gave me the creeps.
I loved the little touches around the hostel, such as the glass cabinet and the cell downstairs with artifacts from the jail’s history in them, as well as the costumes and mugshot back drop in the reception area for guests to muck about and take a few ‘guilty’ selfies with.
As far as facilities go, there is limited free wifi (which only works outside of the cells), a decent sized kitchen, hot showers and off-street parking. As well as a tv room and laundry, amongst other things (although we didn’t use these). And in terms of location, well it was a little bit of a walk into the centre of Christchurch (around half an hour) but only around a 15 minute drive to the airport.
All in all I would recommend The Jailhouse as a good base to stay in Christchurch, even for just the novelty factor alone. Plus it gives you a great story to tell your friends when you get home!