A hotel guest wearing prisoner uniform poses for photo on the deck of the Sook Station Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel, Thailand, August 2, 2017. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) Top News

With its narrow rooms, metal bars and bunk beds, Bangkok’s first prison-themed hostel promises the look and feel of a real jail in the bustling Thai capital. The Sook Station hostel in Bangkok’s Udom Suk neighbourhood offers guests pin-striped pyjamas for 700 baht ($21) and a wall with a height chart where they can have their mugshots taken.

The nine-room hostel is the first foray into the hospitality industry for Sittichai Chaivoraprug, 55, and his wife, 49-year-old Piyanat Teekavanich, after careers in the technology sector. They were inspired by a shared love of travel and the 1994 prison escape film “The Shawshank Redemption”, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

The hostel’s design includes black-out doors and windows in two rooms to create the feeling of being in solitary confinement. Showers are located on a caged-in rooftop. For guests who may feel a sense of claustrophobia, seven rooms have a small balcony.

A hotel guest wearing prisoner uniform is pictured inside her room at the Sook Station BangkokÕs first prison-themed hostel, Thailand, August 2, 2017. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Thailand expects to welcome almost 35 million foreign tourists – nearly half the country’s population – in 2017. Many of them visit or transit through Bangkok, a regional travel hub. Sook Station charges between 790 to 1,630 baht ($24-$49) a night for the prison-themed experience. “People love it or hate it,” Sittichai told Reuters, adding that most bookings have come by word of mouth.

Some guests like Yui, a 42-year-old hotel worker, are repeat customers. “I feel it’s a real prison because when I arrived it was dark,” Yui said. Now on her third stay, she said the hostel’s style and friendly staff “feels like home”. ($1=33.28 baht)

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