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Traveling Texas: A night in The Cell Block

Posted at 12:55 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 13:55:34-04

CLIFTON, Texas — Texas is becoming known for its quirky hotels. Perhaps none more unique than the one you’ll find in the quiet Bosque County town of Clifton.

Spending the night in jail may not be your idea of the perfect B&B getaway. But wait till you see The Cell Block—in the heart of historic Clifton.

Once an abandoned city lockup for malcontents and drunks is now a respectable and comfortable “bed and booze.”

You can set the mood for your stay in The Cell Block with an old-time phonograph and its selection of prisoner blues.

By design, this is a place to unplug. There’s no television, but there is a comfortable sitting area. One cell serves as the bedroom and the other is the bathroom.

And jailhouse details are everywhere you look: from a mugshot wall perfect for selfies to handcuffs and even the custom soap ironically called “don’t drop”.

“Our bed and booze really puts it all together,” said Manager Kristen McKinney.

Kristen McKinney has managed the B&B for more than four years. She says the owner, Kaye Calloway, began converting the old jail building in 2014.

“Kaye Callaway is a visionary for Clifton. She has The Cell Block and she used to own a fabulous restaurant downtown called Sinclair...she started Art Alley and commissions artists to come down and paint," said McKinney.

So where does McKinney think The Cell Block lands on the quirkiness scale?

“Oh, definitely number one. I mean, it's an old jail cell. Who doesn't want to stay in a renovated jail cell?" McKinney said.

Bookings are brisk and Kristen tells me The Cell Block is especially popular on weekends. As for pricing:

“For a Saturday night, it's $260 and for Monday through Thursday it's $225," said McKinney. “We send them a confirmation email as soon as they book it, and it comes with the lockbox code and all the details...they're able to check themselves in and check themselves out.”

McKinney has spent the night before and tells us she thinks it's a little weird, but she loved it.

While guests at the Cell Block are on their own for breakfast—there are complimentary beverages. Clifton’s Red Caboose Winery provides special label tempranillo.

“We're friends with the Red Caboose owner, and he has provided us with this beautiful tempranillo. And it has The Cell Block label and then Balcones Whiskey, which is an award-winning whiskey distillery in Waco, Texas, that we provide," said McKinney. "And we offer those both complimentary for our guests every night.”

Kristen says guests often comment on what’s known as “The Yard” --so we made our way up the outside flight of stairs to find seating around an inviting fire pit and a great view of the murals decorating nearby buildings.

McKinney said it's great to be part of something that is so rich in history.

“Oh, it's such a great feeling. I was born and raised in Clifton and came back to raise my kids here. And the fact that I get to do this for a job, I mean, it seems a little surreal sometimes,” said McKinney.

This is one joint you’ll be happy to get locked inside for a little R&R.