09 Oct 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.
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 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…
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”.
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.