Hotel Alcatraz – London’s Toughest Hotel

You won’t find many good reviews of this hotel. It’s down an alley in a dodgy part of town. You have to be mad or bad to get in and you won’t find any ‘modern comforts’ like an iPod docking station. No, you’ve just checked into a hotel where the average stay is eight to ten years. Previous guests have included Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert Stroud,  known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz.”

On Tuesday, 13 March 2012 the gates open to London’s toughest hotel experience as ‘Hotel Alcatraz’ sets up in London’s Kings Cross to coincide with the launch of J.J. Abrams’ new drama series Alcatraz on UK TV Watch at 9 PM.

Alcatraz Guard

Hotel Alcatraz - Reception

Watch has created an experience for fans to get a better understanding of the lives of Alcatraz prisoners and bring the show’s characters to life in present-day London by recreating the cells of the infamous maximum-security, minimum-privilege penitentiary known as ‘The Rock.’

The four-cell-residence has been modelled on San Francisco’s infamous Alcatraz prison – a faithful reproduction of the penitentiary during its heyday before its closure 1963. Including the damp.

Alcatraz Hotel Cell Watch

Hotel Alcatraz - Standard Room with ensuite

You can book an escape to Alcatraz from midday 13th March through discount hotel specialists Yes, really, you can book a one night stay.

The hotel has been meticulously designed with materials from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in San Francisco. Former U.S.P. Alcatraz Correction Officer, George DeVincenzi, will also be there to authenticate the experience.

The 5′ by 9′ cells contain replicas of prisoner allowances, while the ‘hotel’ is staffed by a team of the ‘prison wardens’.

Inside Alcatraz

Hotel Alcatraz - Room Service

The hotel regime includes check-in at 18:30 hours, at which point ‘guests’ are given prison-issue uniforms and photo mug shots taken. They are fed and watered in their cells and given a number of tasks to help them to understand the lives of inmates caged there during the 50s and 60s. These include physical exercise, model making, tailoring and, believe it or not, knitting.

Hotel Alcatraz can be found at 25 – 28 Field Street London WC1X 9DA  – it’s open from 13th to 17th of March.

The whole process from check-in to check-out has been created to give an authentic taste the replicates life in the world’s most notorious jail. With torches, whistles and even on the night we were there – Alsatian guard dogs.

Prisoners are issued with standard uniforms. Each cell has a sleeping cot with mattress, tiny sink, prison-style toilet and two shelves. The metal food trays, drinking cups and uniforms have been authentically sourced. Guests experience Alcatraz-standard meals – seen as a luxury by inmates as prison officials insisted on serving prisoners the best quality food because this might prevent violence and rioting.

What about the TV show?

Alcatraz is a new thriller centred on America’s most infamous prison. Executively-produced by award-winning JJ Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Star Trek, Super 8 and Cloverfield) the show starts on Watch from 13th March at 9pm.  You can watch the trailer here.

With an all-star cast including Lost favourite Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and UK actress Parminder Nagra (ER, Bend It Like Beckham),  Alcatraz maintains JJ Abrams’s flair for creating mystery and intrigue, with strong characters and gripping plot lines.

When San Francisco Police Department Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones, Big Love) is assigned to a grisly homicide case, a fingerprint leads her to a shocking suspect: Jack Sylvane (guest star  Jeffrey Pierce), an Alcatraz inmate who died over 30 years ago.  Given her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle were involved in the prison –  Rebecca Madsen’s interest is immediately piqued, and once the enigmatic, knows-everything-but-tells-nothing  government agent Emmerson Hauser (Sam Neill)  tries to impede her investigation, she becomes even more committed.

Madsen turns to expert and comic book enthusiast Dr Diego ‘Doc’ Sotto (Jorge  Garcia)  to piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The two discover that Sylvane is not only alive, but he’s loose on the streets of San Francisco, exacting decades-old revenge and leaving bodies in his wake. And, strangely, he hasn’t aged a day since 1963 when Alcatraz was ruled by the iron fisted Warden Edwin James and the sadistic Associate Warden E.B. Tiller.

Madsen and Sotto reluctantly team with Hauser and his technician, Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra) to stop Sylvane’s vengeful killing spree. By delving into Alcatraz’s history, government cover-ups and Madsen’s own heritage the team will ultimately discover that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat. While he may be the first to reappear from Alcatraz, it quickly becomes clear that Sylvane won’t be the last.

Gripping stuff!

Where to find Watch: Sky 109 and Virgin TV 124

Here’s our own tribute to the show from James Alexander 

For the launch of Alcatraz, Hope & Glory PR recreated the experience of checking into this notorious prison of no return. Down a back street in Kings Cross, dodging the hookers and crack dealers we were in for more of a surprise as burly guards shone their torches in our faces as they checked our names off the prisoner’s list. Worldly possessions were left at the cloakroom and the gates shut. Alsatian guard dogs were prowling on their leashes and a flickering screen in the corner played the episodes of  the new TV show. It turned out be a very jolly night, refreshed behind bars with wine and Meantime beer and lots of ‘prison portion’ canapes. Our late night release was signalled by a whistle from the, by now, affable guards and off we went back onto the streets, praying not to get arrested and banged up there again. We promise to be good, honest. And we will watch the show!

Here are some shots from the launch party:

Alan Greenhalgh in UK Alcatraz

Alan Greenhalgh in UK Alcatraz

Alcatraz Cell created for launch of TV series on Watch UK


The 5′ x 9′ Alcatraz Cell
Dean - Our Prison Guard at Alcatraz Hotel

Dean - Our Prison Guard at Hotel Alcatraz

Alcatraz TV Series Launch Guard dog

A very friendly Alcatraz guard & dog

Alcatraz TV Series Tube poster

Alcatraz TV Series Tube poster at Oxford Circus - reminding us to Watch at 9PM


  1. […] media, US Presidential elections and a wand carrying young wizard. It could be given the JJ Abrams Alcatraz treatment – a series for sci-fi and literature nuts with added comedy and warmth. The […]

  2. […] media, US Presidential elections and a wand carrying young wizard. It could be given the JJ Abrams Alcatraz treatment – a series for sci-fi and literature nuts with added comedy and warmth. The […]

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