I love having the chance to stay in unusual places. So when I found out the hostel in Falun was actually in an old prison, I had to go there.
I arrived in Falun in the Dalarna region of middle Sweden in the late afternoon. The bus stopped in the town centre by the river. The hostel was on the edge of town up a big hill. I trudged up with my heavy pack, but decided it was worth it once I got there. The prisoners had had the best views in town!
The imposing building was built in the 1840s and only ceased operating as a prison in 1995. Five years later it was opened as a hostel.
I was staying in a cell for two, which I was lucky enough to have to myself. It really would have been cramped with two people sharing. The window was barred and the cell door was heavy. The bunks were hard with no mattresses. I wondered if this was part of the ‘prison’ experience, though the photos on the website did show the beds with mattresses. By the time I’d sorted myself out and got back downstairs the reception had closed and so I had to wait until the following morning to find out that yes, I should have had a mattress. Fortunately I had my Therm-a-Rest and so had a more comfortable night than I otherwise would’ve done.
The hostel layout hadn’t been changed since its prison days, though I’m sure it’s much nicer now.
The wide corridors on each floor have a mix of comfy chairs and sofas providing lots of smaller communal areas rather than one big common room.
Each floor has a shared bathroom and kitchen. I’m sure the kitchens were nothing like this in the building’s prison days. There was even a nice coffee machine.
On the ground floor there is the reception, more communal areas and a cafe/restaurant, though it wasn’t open when I was there. The walls are covered in old photos of the town and lots of memorabilia.
The hostel also has a prison museum in the basement and a couple of cells on the accommodation floor decked out as they would have been back in the day.
The museum smelt and felt damp and musty. It was dingy and crammed with stuff. All of which just added to the atmosphere.
I stayed two nights in the prison and found Falun a really interesting town to explore. As well as the prison, there’s the museum with a replica of writer Selma Lagerlöf’s study. Her house had been on the street where the prison is, but I wasn’t able to find it. I think it’s been demolished which is a shame.
There’s also the huge mine, the river and an old town with traditional red painted houses.
And it’s only a bus ride away from Sundborn where Carl Larsson’s home – my original reason for wanting to come to Falun – can be found.
The website for Falun prison hostel can be found here.