It’s a lot more appealing than it sounds at the new Fremantle Prison YHA in Western Australia, which allows guests to sleep in original cells or a guards’ cottages in a World Heritage-listed nineteenth century jail. 

Through a heritage-sensitive renovation, the 200 bed Fremantle Prison YHA combines historic charm with purpose built facilities including brand new private rooms and dormitory-style accommodation. This one-of-a-kind YHA contains the original fabric of the prison (including walls, floors and cells) and its history is interpreted and displayed throughout the building.

Stays cost from just AUD$28 per person per night in dormitory-style accommodation with twin/double en-suite rooms available from AUD$120 per night (family en-suite rooms from AUD$140.) For the real deal, twin bed cells are available from AUD$68 per night. Special half price opening deals are available for dormitory beds in May.

Facilities at Fremantle Prison YHA  include a self-catering kitchen, large common areas, TV rooms, a laundry and luggage storage, 24 hour reception and travel and tours desk. Other amenities include air conditioning, heating, lockers, a pool table, ping pong and Wi-Fi and the hostel is just a few minutes’ walk from the vibrant port city of Fremantle with its untouched nineteenth century streetscape, colourful markets, bohemian cafes and buzzing nightlife. The Maritime Museum, historic tram ride, and Fishing Boat Harbour are all also nearby.

The history of the site dates back to 1829, when the area, dubbed the Swan River Colony was designated for free-settlers. However, the settlement’s fledgling agricultural industry soon floundered, due to a lack of workers and transport and administrative issues. With the colony’s future looking bleak, convict labour was introduced and Fremantle Prison was created for the newly constituted penal settlement. Originally known as the Convict Establishment, the prison was built in the 1850s with the first convicts occupying the site from 1855, right up until 1991. During this time, hangings, floggings, escapes and riots were etched in history.

When the Old Perth Gaol closed, female inmates were moved to Fremantle Prison in1889. The laundry, bakehouse and cookhouse of the prison were sectioned off to accommodate the women. Extended twice over the years, this women’s prison is what has now become Fremantle Prison YHA.