Inspector calls Bodmin Jail Hotel, Cornwall the result of ‘sensational’ £ 60million makeover
Inspector calls out Cornwall’s former prison which has undergone a ‘sensational’ £ 60million makeover to a posh hotel, with ‘inmates’ housed in rooms made up of pierced cells
- You arrive in the exercise yard – in which the former residents ended their stay on the rope of an executioner
- The reception area, the entire floor of a cell block, is striking, illuminated by the original skylight along the entire length
- “I sleep peacefully despite each room bearing a photo of a less fortunate historical occupant”, writes the inspector
In the days of the Poldarks, Bodmin – the county town of Cornwall – was a destination. The residences of Georgian mine owners were arranged in beautiful streets and squares; there was a chateau, a corn market and assizes. And for when the Cornish people were more earthy than usual, there was a vast prison complex.
It had 24 foot granite walls with gargoyles and two massive cell wings.
When the mines closed and the big money fled to the coast, the now Grade II listed prison became a white elephant. But its new owner, Russian millionaire Timur Gorman, saw it differently. The £ 60million architectural transformation of the Bodmin Jail Hotel is sensational.
Bodmin Grade II Listed Prison has undergone a ‘sensational’ £ 60million makeover to a posh hotel
Inmates at today’s Bodmin Prison occupy three breakthrough cells, rather than one
A bathroom with underfloor heating replaces the bucket and the shared shower
You arrive in the exercise yard (in which the former residents ended their stay at the end of a hangman’s rope) to find that the two cell blocks have been connected by modern and stylish inserts, containing the cages of lift.
The reception area, the entire floor of a cell block, is simple and striking, lit by the original skylight running the entire length.
Around, on two upper walkways, are the 70 guest rooms. You will know the layout of Porridge from TV.
Bodmin Jail Hotel is owned by Russian millionaire Timur Gorman, who saw an opportunity to turn a white elephant into something special
The reception area, the entire floor of a cell block, is simple and striking, says the inspector, lit by the original skylight running the length of it.
Today’s inmates occupy three breakthrough cells instead of one, and a heated bathroom has replaced the common bucket and shower.
The thickness of the walls and the tall, sightless windows looking out to “the little blue tent that some men call the sky” – as Oscar Wilde puts it – provoke a humorous unease.
To reach the restaurant, you walk past the bar. Her Cornish mixologist also talks about the ghosts that haunt the building and I bet her patrons rave about them, as they do with the a la carte menu at the adjacent old chapel.
Inspector says Cornish mixologist at Bodmin Jail hotel “denounces ghosts that haunt the building”
To residents of neglected Bodmin, the hotel must resemble a lifeboat. I drink the local Camel Valley shank, rightly famous and of a standard and price rivaling French and German vineyards. And the bouillabaisse is absolutely delicious.
I sleep peacefully, despite each room bearing a photograph of an unfortunate historic occupant of the same room.
On leaving I still can’t figure out who the hotel is for, but if the prison attraction takes off, then carriage nights could follow. And Bodmin could become a destination again.
Bodmin Jail Hotel, Scarlett’s Well Road, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL31 2PL. Doubles from £ 236. For more information call 01208 822 822 or visit bodminjailhotel.com.