Last week, London briefly tried out life on The Rock.

As part of a publicity campaign for the British premiere of J.J. Abrams’ new science fiction show, Alcatraz, guests at London’s Hotel Alcatraz got the Al Capone treatment.

Guests left their possessions at the door and were given a prison uniform, a towel, a book, and a roll of toilet paper to take to their room—a 5-foot-by-9-foot cell. Luckily for the guests, the grubby bathroom facilities were just for show, and private facilities were available.

The food was also worlds above prison food, of course—barbecue riblets, grilled chicken, and a Portobello burger were available and could be accompanied with wine. The schedule was regulated down to the minute, however, and guests were required to knit scarves out of yarn and make models out of Legos to earn back personal items. The “guards” were also playing the part, barking orders, chastising any smiling “convicts,” and keeping a silent jailhouse.

Of course, the guests were free to leave whenever they wanted, but most seemed to be genuinely affected by the lifelike surroundings. As one guest said, “I waited for 10 minutes before I finally worked up the courage to ask the guard to use the toilet, which seems crazy.”

“People may come in here with plans, but they end up just getting immediately taken in and accepting the energy of the place,” said one of the “guards.”

Next time Theo Theft goes across the pond, maybe he’ll feel a little more at home.


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