Text description provided by the architects. A derelict 18th century prison that once housed hundreds of criminals and over fifty executions has been restored and reinvented as a luxury boutique hotel within Cornwall, England. Set over 4 storeys, with 70 boutique rooms, each with their own story to tell, The Bodmin Jail Hotel is a new full sensory accommodation experience that intertwines the imposing original architecture of the three-hundred-year-old jail with creative, contemporary design.
Located in the former Civil and Naval Wings of the jail, each luxury room has been transformed from three prison cells, retaining many of the original features including the existing barred windows, weathered stone walls (with genuine inmate graffiti) and ceilings. Authentic original prison doors salvaged and refurbished from Wandsworth Jail have been fixed into the wall fabric, alongside new doors which provide a modern interpretation to meet hotel requirements.
Twelve Architects relied on historic photos of the jail to bring the central atrium back to its former glory. Before the project began in 2015, much of the jail had completely lost its roof structure, leaving most of the building open to the elements and covered in foliage. Finishes had been stripped over the years and some walls damaged from demolition attempts. Using the principles of the original roof, the atria are now naturally lit through a contemporary full-length skylight.
Twelve’s design philosophy was to create a series of diverse spaces aimed at heightening the unique qualities of the building while creating an immersive visitor experience at every touchpoint. This multi-sensory experience begins as guests approach the building and witness the dramatic view of the jail tower together with the new sky lights. Once inside the historic perimeter wall, the first experience of containment is felt, and guests are able to soak up the full drama of the impressive and commanding jail wings of the main building.
Visitors are greeted at the lobby which is purposefully narrow to increase the impact of the Civil Wing atrium where they can get their first glimpse of the naturally lit space with reinstated walkways and views of the iconic tower through the skylight. The hotel rooms themselves have been designed to retain a suggestion of the original cell layout while providing luxurious and comfortable spaces that ensure the guest has made the leap conclusively from historic jail to a high spec luxury hotel.
A nod to the Duchy of Cornwall has also been incorporated in the interior design schemes, with the colour scheme reflective of the coat of arms. This sympathetic restoration blends heritage and luxury, celebrating the intrinsic role that the building has played in Cornwall’s past while treating guests to the latest comfort.
The Bodmin Jail Visitor Attraction features a brand-new stone gabion clad Dark Walk experience building. Combining the latest technology and theatrical effects, the Dark Walk treats visitors to a truly immersive and interactive discovery of life within the walls of the 18th-century prison and Cornwall’s most haunting histories. Visitors also access the original jail cells to experience life within the jail. The Administration building has been completely refurbished to provide a beautiful restaurant in what was once the Jail’s chapel. It also accommodates the cocktail bar, gym and café.