Curious about prison life? Bangkok jail-themed hostel offers experience

Iron bars, bunk beds, narrow rooms and black-out doors create the setting of a prison cell at the Sook Station, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel.
Iron bars, bunk beds, narrow rooms and black-out doors create the setting of a prison cell at the Sook Station, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel.PHOTO: REUTERS
Guests may experience some claustrophobia staying at the Sook Station, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel.
Guests may experience some claustrophobia staying at the Sook Station, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel.PHOTO: REUTERS
Put on a pair of striped pyjamas and have your mugshot taken at the Sook Station, Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel.
Put on a pair of striped pyjamas and have your mugshot taken at the Sook Station, Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel.PHOTO: REUTERS
If you feel claustrophobic, head to the rooftop of the Sook Station for some fresh air, still wearing your prisoner's attire, of course.
If you feel claustrophobic, head to the rooftop of the Sook Station for some fresh air, still wearing your prisoner's attire, of course.PHOTO: REUTERS
Lock the world out at the Sook Station, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel.
Lock the world out at the Sook Station, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - With its narrow rooms, metal bars and bunk beds, Bangkok's first prison-themed hostel promises the look and feel of a real jail in the bustling Thai capital.

The Sook Station hostel in Bangkok's Udom Suk neighbourhood offers guests striped pyjamas for 700 baht (S$29) and a wall with a height chart where they can have their mugshots taken.

The nine-room hostel is the first foray into the hospitality industry for Mr Sittichai Chaivoraprug, 55, and his wife, 49-year-old Piyanat Teekavanich, after careers in the technology sector.

They were inspired by a shared love of travel and the 1994 prison escape film, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

The hostel's design includes black-out doors and windows in two rooms to create the feeling of being in solitary confinement. Showers are located on a caged-in rooftop.

For guests who may feel a sense of claustrophobia, seven rooms have a small balcony.

Thailand expects to welcome almost 35 million foreign tourists - nearly half the country's population - this year. Many of them visit or transit through Bangkok, a regional travel hub.

Sook Station charges between 790 and 1,630 baht a night for the prison-themed experience. "People love it or hate it," Mr Sittichai told Reuters, adding that most bookings have come by word of mouth.

Some guests like Ms Yui, a 42-year-old hotel worker, are repeat customers. "I feel it's a real prison because when I arrived it was dark," Ms Yui said. Now on her third stay, she said the hostel's style and friendly staff "feels like home".