UK's 'toughest hotel' opens its doors


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The Independent Online

A hotel billed as one of the toughest in the UK has today opened its doors to the public.

Hotel Alcatraz, in Field Street, King's Cross, London, has been created to mark the launch of JJ Abrams' new drama series of the same name on UKTV's entertainment channel Watch, a spokesman for the hotel said.

He said the four-room residence has been modelled on San Francisco's infamous prison - a faithful reproduction of the penitentiary during its heyday, before it closed in 1963.

Hotel Alcatraz has been designed with materials from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in San Francisco.

Former USP Alcatraz correction officer George DeVincenzi will be on hand to authenticate the experience, the spokesman added.

The 5ft by 9ft cells contain a sleeping cot with mattress, sink, prison-style toilet and two shelves, while the hotel is staffed by a team of "prison wardens" who have been trained specifically for their roles, he said.

Guests check in at 6.30pm and are given prison-issue uniforms, metal food trays and drinking cups. Their mugshots are also taken, the spokesman said.

They are fed and watered while in their cells and are given a number of tasks, including physical exercise, model-making and tailoring, that will help them to understand the lives of inmates caged on The Rock during the 1950s and 1960s, he added.

Steve Hornsey, general manager of Watch, said: "It offers people a unique opportunity to experience America's most infamous prison and we can't wait to see and hear the guest's reactions."

Hotel Alcatraz is open until Saturday.