While many American prisons are trying to navigate overcrowding, prisons in the Netherlands are so empty, people are coming up with creative new plans for the buildings.
Over the past 10 years, the incarceration rate in the Netherlands has dropped from one of the highest in Europe to one of the lowest (57 people per 100,000). The recorded crime rate has dropped 25 percent over the past eight years. And although some argue that the main reason behind the drop is the closings of police stations across the country, there are now former prisons just sitting empty — and available for rent.
While some prison buildings are repurposed as asylums or housing for Syrian refugees, some are being turned into attractions.
The Het Arresthuis (Dutch for “house arrest”) in Roermond is a former prison-turned-hotel just outside of Amsterdam. Guest rooms are former detention cells that have been redone to the point of becoming unrecognizable — except for the entrances to the rooms, which are still the original jail cell doors.
Guests can choose to upgrade to one of four suites, named The Jailer, The Lawyer, The Director, and The Judge. There’s Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and even a gourmet restaurant. Guests can work out in the fitness center or sit in the hotel’s sauna for some relaxation.
The Netherlands isn’t unique in its unconventional repurposing. It’s a fairly popular practice in Nordic countries. Other prisons in Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oxford, England have also been redone as luxury hotels.