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13 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A JAIL IN OTTAWA

Last weekend, I was booked in a jail in Ottawa. I committed no crime but I was locked up for two nights—without bail. It’s an odd thing, right? I was handed out a key to my cell, some white bed sheets and fresh towel. No burly, intimidating police or guards led me up to my cell. I wasn’t even handcuffed or chained. I figured all my way up to John’s cell, a dormitory-type cell with four bunks, a sink, a small refrigerator, a locker, a bedside lamp, a red comfy sofa and a tiny window to the outside world. That’s pretty much a nice cell, yeah? How could a prisoner, like me, be given such treatment?!

No, I wasn’t in a jail, literally. I checked in into a Jail Hostel in Ottawa for a weekend getaway, in time for the city’s annual Tulip Festival.

Yes, that’s right! I stayed at a hostel that used to be Carleton County Gaol. Sounds creepy or haunted, eh? Or just plain unique? For me, it’s wickedly cool combination of jail + hostel. The only one in the world, perhaps. Should this be called a HOSTAIL, instead? 😀

I’ll break down to you 13 reasons why you should experience living in a jail hostel in Ottawa.

1. IT’S CREEPY.

Ok, fine. This is not really a good reason for some of you but, hey, there’s a little creepiness in all of us, right? A jail hostel? Really? That sounds creepy for those who heard about this for the first time, like a friend who came on this trip with me. This was her first experience staying in a hostel (ever!) and according to her, “I love it!”

This is the facade of Ottawa Jail Hostel.

This is the facade of Ottawa Jail Hostel.

And oh, when I say creepy, I mean it in a good way. 😉

2. IT’S HAUNTED. 

I didn’t experience it but the French backpacker I talked to at the bar swore that he saw shadows moving outside his cell and he was pretty sure no one was out there! But, don’t be carried away by this story though. I mean, I’d be more afraid of the living humans than the dead ones. 😀

15 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A JAIL

15 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A JAIL

One of the famous ghosts that haunt the hostel is Patrick James Whelan, the last person to be hanged/executed in this 150-year-old, former county jail.

This jail has a dark history of death rows and other secrets, so, what can you expect? The good news is, no one has ever had a heart attack here for seeing a ghost. 😀

And oh, speaking of ghosts, look closely in your hostel photos later in your computer. You might see something weird or different in the background. Maybe, a speck of light in a dark room or a blurry object in the corner? Who knows, it might be someone waving without you knowing it? 😀 

3. IT’S UNIQUE. 

As a backpacker/traveler, I love to experience something that’s unique, something that only few people have heard of, have been to or have experienced it.

JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

These are real prison cells converted into tiny, single hostel rooms.

This jail hostel is guaranteed to give anyone who stays here an experience of a lifetime that he’d be talking about in the years to come.

 JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

15 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

Lonely Planet named HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel as one of the spookiest buildings in the world.

4. THERE’S A JAIL TOUR. 

Everyday, at 11 in the morning, the hostel gives a tour to all those who are curious to know about its dark past and history. I’m not gonna tell you in detail about the tour, but I’d highly recommend it. The most interesting part of the tour was when the guide brought us to the death row cells. We went down on a flight of stairs and saw for ourselves the gallows where four convicts were hanged. (See the photo below)

 JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

15 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

Behind the red door (above pic) is the eerie gallows where four men were hanged. Take a peek and you can still see a fully functional hangman’s noose.

5. IT’S IN A PERFECT LOCATION!

This is not just the best place to hang (out!) but also a perfect place to stay in Ottawa. Everything, like, literally everything you need to do and see in the city is walking distance: the Parliament Building, Byward Market, Rideau Canal, the National Gallery of Canada, fastfood, shopping mall, bars, University of Ottawa, etc…

JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

15 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A JAIL HOSTEL IN OTTAWA.

6. IT HAS A PUB CRAWL, OPEN MIC, TOURS, DISCOUNT COUPONS, ETC.

They host activities that you will enjoy. Friday night is, definitely, pub crawl night! Feel like going around the city by bike for sightseeing? Ask the front desk and you shall save!

The Jail Hostel's Lobby Ottawa

The Jail Hostel’s Lobby.

7. ITS HOSTEL BAR IS CALLED MUGSHOTS. 

Check out MUGSHOTS BAR for cheap drinks and hangout with other travellers/backpackers around the world. You can meet the locals, too, because the bar is also open to bar hoppers and other hedonists in the city.

Mugshot Bar Jail Hostel in Ottawa

The jail hostel’s MUGSHOT BAR is also the breakfast dining hall during the day.

They have guest band and guest DJs playing, too. In summer, the Mugshots Bar is at their open-air backyard, below the tower where the hanging execution were done.

8. IT’S FUN. 

Take a mugshot pic at the end of the hallway of MUGSHOTS BAR and send it to your friends. If you want to send it to your parents, do it at your own risks. LOL… Make sure they’re not gonna have a heart attack! 😀

Ottawa Jail Hostel

Pose however you like it!

9. IT HAS FREE BREAKFAST

Who doesn’t love free breakfast? I’ve stayed in many hostels but this one is the ONLY one I’ve stayed that offers hard-boiled eggs! 😀

Breakfast menu at the Jail Hostel in Ottawa.

Breakfast menu at the Jail Hostel in Ottawa.

10. IT HAS ATM INSIDE, LAUNDRY MACHINE, MEDIUM-SIZED KITCHEN AND FREE WIFI. 

As far as I could remember, it’s the ONLY hostel I’ve stayed with an ATM machine inside. They’ve got a couple of paid washing and drying machines. Their kitchen has everything you need. And guess what, you don’t have to wash your own dishes after eating breakfast! 😀 Isn’t that great? 😀

Ottawa Jail Hostel kitchen.

Ottawa Jail Hostel kitchen.

The wifi, however, can be a pain—when everyone is using it at night. Disconnection is a problem, almost every three minutes. At least in my room.

11. IT’S TWO MINUTES WALK TO BYWARD MARKET. 

I know I said about the location above but I need to emphasize that Byward Market is where you can dine al-fresco in the city. You’ve got so many choices in the area it would be hard to choose the best place to sit. If every bar and restaurant is full, go to a cafe where Pres. Barack Obama bought a bread! 😀

Ottawa Jail Hostel

Check out this board at the front desk for cool hostel events and around the city.

12. IT IS HISTORICAL. 

You might say you don’t travel for history but for those who are curious and want to know more (about haunted and ghostly places), you should ask the receptionist how to join the Haunted Walk/Tour in the city. This jail hostel is one of the stops of such tour.

Prison Hostel in Ottawa

These former prison cells are now tiny hostel rooms.

13. FRIENDLY, HELPFUL STAFF. 

They’ll make you feel comfortable, like, you’d forget you’re in a prison for a night or two. If the hard-boiled eggs were gone by the time you arrive at the breakfast hall, ask and you shall be given. 🙂

Jail Hostel in Ottawa.

Jail Hostel in Ottawa.

So, when traveling to Ottawa, stay for a night or two for a jail experience. Ask one of those tiny rooms that used to be prison cells. You can even stay for a month or longer if you’re a ghostbuster! 😉

 


WHERE TO STAY IN OTTAWA
 

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