This onetime prison, last used in 1998 but now converted to a hotel with restaurant, gallery and performing arts venue, offers the most unusual sleeping accommodations ever reviewed in these pages. Virtually all guestrooms are in former inmate cells and, though such necessary amenities as a private toilet and shower have been added, most remain in the jail house configuration: one small, barred window high on the wall; the original reinforced door with only a peephole, and two basic cots. The beautifully refinished hardwood floors, too, are original.

Some rooms are larger and several have unusual décor. The Library Suite (222 Sfr./$126), for example, still has the shelves and books that were in the original prisoners' reading room. In the Barabas Suite is a mural painted by an inmate, Barabas, while incarcerated in that very room. He was released only a few years ago and is now a well-known Lucerne artist and customer of the Löwengraben's restaurant. In fact, not only are several former inmates customers of the hotel and restaurant, they hold regular reunions there. Löwengraben is not for everyone, most rooms are a bit claustrophobic.

Even the more adventurous will probably find one overnight is enough to satisfy any curiosity about jailhouse life. The hotel offers five levels of accommodations and the least expensive "Budget" rooms are not recommended. "Upgrade" rooms have private toilet facilities but are still quite small. The "Up-couple" and "Unplugged" rooms are better but most comfortable will be one of the four suites. Don't misunderstand, the rooms are immaculate and were redone using good fixtures and furnishings. It's just they are so very small and basic. For those who can't envision even one night in a jail cell, there are guided tours daily at 5:30pm (3.5 Sfr./$2).

Street Address: Löwengraben 18
City: Lucerne
Country: Switzerland
Phone: 011 41 41 417 12 12
Fax: 011 41 41 417 12 11
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Quality: Rating: 2 stars
Value: Rating: 3 stars
Price Level: $$$-
Type: Hotel