How I Spent My 21st Birthday in Prison

How I Spent My 21st Birthday in Prison

I turned twenty-one last week and managed to make it two days before completely shattering the illusion that I could ever become a responsible, fully-fledged adult. How so? Well, for one I spent my second night as a twenty-one-year-old in a prison cell.

Let me give you a little background here, before you unfollow me on all social media and write me off as a persona non grata. The only crime I committed is having an awesome blog (woo!), which got me an invitation to spend the night at Clink78 – a lovely hostel in central London located in a converted courthouse.

clink78 prison

Ever since I binge watched the entirety of “Orange Is The New Black” in a week-long wine-fuelled daze, I have been interested in having my very own prison experience. The problem? I think my criminal record looks good in white and I’d rather keep it that way. This is why I quickly jumped at this opportunity to spend the night in a cell and get a feel of prison life, give or take a few punches to the throat and bottles of Stella.

I decided to capture my stay on video for two reasons. A) My friend only joined me late at night and I was terrified of being locked up by myself. B) The hostel is extremely colourful and funky, which pleased me to no end. Watch my Clink78 hostel review here!

Lovely, isn’t it? Set in a 200 year-old courthouse, Clink78 successfully combines the building’s Victorian charm with quirky quotes and party vibes. Much like the Generator hostel in Dublin, the place really impressed me with its modern interior design which outdid that of many hotels I’ve stayed at. Hotels – take heed!

The converted prison cells (from £50) are not your only option when staying Clink78 – they also have dorm rooms which start at £13. These are on the smaller side but are nicely decorated and there are many options for girls – not one but two types of all-female dorm rooms. The hostel is a 10-minute walk from King’s Cross, which makes it a great base for discovering central London.

clink78 reception

Clink78 is also a good place to practice your French – because the vast majority of the guests seemed to hail from France that is, not necessarily because you will be hooking up with many of the guests. Although that might happen, as the hostel has a lively bar on site. By London standards, Clash bar serves reasonably priced beer (£2.50) and hosts live music acts – if you’re a musician, they will even put you up for free in exchange for your wailing and strumming! Note that you do not qualify for a free musician stay if you get tipsy at the bar and start belting out Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. But it never hurts to try.

Are you a bit of a history buff? Then you’re bound to love this place! In 1837, Charles Dickens worked here – sadly not as a hostel receptionist, but a law clerk. Regardless, his time here greatly inspired him while he was writing “Oliver Twist”, which is more than most hostels can say. In 1978, members of The Clash also stood trial here for shooting prize pigeons which seems like something that’s genuinely not worth getting into trouble for…

clink78 hostel prison

Sleeping in a prison cell was a very unique experience. Although the walls have been slathered in rainbow shades and populated with adorable graffiti inmates, they still confine you in the same they would have all the prisoners who used to live within them. Their cold unloving embrace further reinforced my view that there should be more focus on inmate rehabilitation than on endless punishment. It is hard to imagine what it must feel like, being trapped in a small cell day after day and while I do not claim to understand it now, my stay at Clink78 definitely offered an interesting insight into a prisoner’s life. Yes, some of those people had committed awful crimes. But any society is only as good as its weakest link, so in educating prisoners and giving them the space and the means to better themselves humanity wins as a whole. As that Oscar Wilde quote below says, “every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.

clink78 hostel clink78 common room internet clink78 court clink78 tv room

Have you ever or would you ever stay in a prison cell? Do you like quirky, themed lodgings? I know I do – but now it’s your turn to speak!

Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by Clink78. I received no further compensation and my opinions are just that – my opinions. 

  • Elise Angelopulos
    Posted at 16:53h, 09 October

    Haha love your lead to this post and the hostel looks “cheery” enough for its quite somber past. Happy 21!


    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:48h, 09 October

      Thanks Elise!! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the post 😀 And absolutely – the hostel was cheery & colourful enough to make it all fun 🙂

  • Derek4Real
    Posted at 17:35h, 09 October

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That having been said, damn you! What a deceptively misleading title, totally got me hahaha. No worries though, we wouldn’t abandon ya even if you did end up spending the night in a drunk tank or something like that. Anyway that hostel looks and sounds like a really cool place. However, having been locked up in three different countries thus far in my travels, I have a tendency to skip over all the prison-themed hostels and hotels.

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:50h, 09 October

      Thank youuuuuu! hahahaha I’m so sorry – I couldn’t resist 😛 And nights in the drunk tank… Let’s see. Never say never. Oh lord, yeah, I remember your post from.. Indonesia, was it? Whoops 😛 I totally see why you’d avoid prison-themed places – doesn’t seem so cute after you’ve tried the real deal I bet…

      • Derek4Real
        Posted at 18:01h, 09 October

        Yes, Indonesia. 16 days. Funny at first but then got deadly serious. But hey now this is your blog, your post, and (was) your big day so let’s no be talking about me lol. Hope you had an amazing 21st and cheers towards another amazing year!

  • Christina Thomas
    Posted at 20:47h, 09 October

    Love the video! Keep doing them. and glad your stay in “prison” was this fun! I’m not sure my claustrophobia would allow me to stay in a small room without a window so I guess that is reason enough to stay out of trouble! Cheers!

  • daniel
    Posted at 23:27h, 09 October

    Hey girl, this place has so much fun and history behind it.Sounds like an affordable place in London as well,if I visit again in the near future I’d give it a shot! Thanks for the discovery. :

  • Anna | slightly astray
    Posted at 02:43h, 10 October

    This is awesome!! I’m always a little curious about the lives of prisoners, and I would totally try this just for the novelty of it! I can imagine it feeling a little claustrophobic or creepy at night. Btw… Love the video!

  • Clinkhostels
    Posted at 10:36h, 10 October

    Looks great Sabina 🙂 We love fun and quirky blogs like this and we are glad you enjoyed your stay with us at Clink78. We hope to see you again soon 🙂

  • Mandie Sanders
    Posted at 16:22h, 10 October

    Oh my gosh, that looks like so much fun!! I would love to do something like that. I’m so glad you had a fabulous birthday! 🙂 Now that you’re legal over here in the states, you should come visit me. I would even bring Party-Girl Mandie out of retirement. Haha

  • Katie Featherstone
    Posted at 22:26h, 18 October

    Ha ha! I’m glad you weren’t actually locked up, but the hostel looks pretty great anyway- very colourful, but quite tastefully done which is nice. I’ve been enjoying looking through your blog! 🙂

  • Alyssa Martinez
    Posted at 07:24h, 20 October

    Happy Birthday dear! Great review and that title! I really thought you were in prison hahaha

  • Rebecca
    Posted at 03:54h, 23 October

    I am so in love with your blog! What an incredible birthday and experience! You’re travels are so inspiring; time to explore!

  • Ryan Biddulph
    Posted at 19:38h, 23 October

    Hi Sabina,

    Clever! And that must have been quite the experience, chilling in such a quirky spot. We usually don’t do the off the wall, themed lodging bit but I could make an exception for an incredibly neat spot like this. You’re having so much fun Sabina and that’s what globe trotting is about. I see many travelers young and old who mope around with a scowl. What the hell’s the point! Enjoy it…..I’m 39, and I have the enthusiasm of a 5 year old for travel, and life. Enjoy the heck out of the ride, do fun stuff, and smile your way through it. You know how to travel 😉

    Tweeting from Savusavu, Fiji.


  • Clare
    Posted at 10:36h, 29 October

    This was so creative.. I loved it!!! Way to go 🙂

    Fab meeting you at TBEX.. see you at WTM?

  • Sky Fisher
    Posted at 17:36h, 04 November

    I love quirky places and I think this is definitely one. I’ve never slept in a prison cell but I probably would. (Though I, like you, have plenty of thoughts on the need to reform our prisons.)

  • Richard Bench
    Posted at 02:18h, 05 November

    Awesome! This place looks really cool. I guess one of those places in London that you never realise is there!

  • Kelsey of Route Words
    Posted at 20:44h, 06 December

    What at cool hostel! And I loved your video… so creative!

  • Georgina Fox
    Posted at 20:32h, 06 February

    This looks freakin awesome!


  • Rachel Lam
    Posted at 14:30h, 20 February

    My daughter has this obsession with prisons and I for the British culture. Will definitely go!!

  • Ilia Usmanov
    Posted at 22:45h, 08 September

    This is definitely going on the list of Hostels to stay at. Great post 🙂