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News Link • Business/ Commerce

Doing Soft Time: Former Jails Become Luxury Hotels

•, By Craig Karmin
 Since opening in 1851, Boston's Charles Street Jail has housed the Boston Strangler, the men behind the infamous Brinks Job and a Nazi submarine commander captured in World War II.
Today, as the Liberty Hotel, it welcomes guests paying $400 a night or more for a room and the chance to drink cocktails in a former cell, munch on red snapper behind iron bars and view fashion shows in what was the inmates' exercise room.

"It's pretty unbelievable to think you're paying to stay in a jail," said Vinnie Macri, a guest from Chicago, as he drained his beer and surveyed the beehive of activity in the lobby bar. "But they've done an awesome job."

In an effort to capture the hip, affluent traveler's imagination, developers have reinvented farmhouses, monasteries, caves, even a Boeing 747 jet as chic new lodgings. But the industry's budding global trend is to transform hubs of incarceration into boutique hotels, reveling in the paradox of charging guests to sleep where the original inhabitants dreamed of escape.

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