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Visby Prison Hostel - Visby Fängelse Vandrarhem

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Description
Please read the English version at ouer website www.visbyfangelse.se
Hostelz.com's Review
Visby Prison Hostel - Visby Fängelse Vandrarhem is quite unusual. The building itself is over one hundred-fifty years old and was used as a prison for most of its life. It hasn't been used as a prison in many decades but it still retains much of its character, strange corridors, dungeons, exercise yard, and watch tower.

The Location

Located only a few hundred meters from the waterfront and only a few minutes' walk from the old town, this hostel is easy to find and close to most of the tourist facilities you will need. If you arrive by ferry, you can spot it fairly easily before you even get off the boat. The tourist information center is located just five minutes' walk to the north along the waterfront. There is also a place to hire bicycles for the more adventurous -- although be warned these are not high performance machines, should you decide to tour the island on one.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The hostel has cabins outside which have been added in more recent years, but the main attractions are the prison cells themselves inside the main building. These remain largely unmodified and are understandably small with impressive doors. Although tiny, the rooms are actually quite comfortable and quite usable. The hostel isn't noisy because there just isn't that much traffic in Visby. Each room has wooden bunks, several shelves, and a small bedside table. Parts of the hostel get a view out over the lower sections of the Visby wall -- through the bars, of course. Each room has a lock on the door, but no lockers.

The bathrooms are shared, there aren't many of them, and they're not five-star, but they are clean and functional. Hot water is free and not rationed. There is space to hang towels.

Common Spaces

The common areas are somewhat eclectic and spread over several floors. The main floors of the cell block provide a space to sit and read. There are two kitchens available that are reasonably well appointed, clean and tidy, and have table and chairs for eating at. There are refrigerators available, which are also cleaned regularly. There is a television and comfortable areas to sit and talk or enjoy the sun upstairs. The building can be a bit of a rabbit warren, but that's all part of the charm of staying in a prison.

This hostel could be a great place to meet people, but this will depend greatly on how many inmates it has at any one time and can be quiet in the off-season.

In one of the out-buildings there is a laundry with several industrial washing machines. There are clothes dryers available, but there is also a large courtyard that could be used if you can find a rack or clothesline to use.

Summary

Although this is a converted prison, it manages to pull off an open and airy feel that you wouldn't normally associate with prisons. It retains much of the character of a prison while remaining inviting to travelers. Even without its historic draw-card, this hostel is definitely worth a look. It's close to most of the things you'll want to see if you've come to see the old town and it's great for a few nights. This hostel is highly recommended.

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
August 2008

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