Book Review: Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali's Most Notorious Jail

16 March 2014

Title: Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali's Most Notorious Jail
Author: Kathryn Bonella
Genre: Non - Fiction, Crime > True Crime
Page Numbers/Length: 337 pages
Publisher: Quercus
Publish Date: 2nd February 2012
Format: Kindle

 So what’s it about?

Welcome to Hotel Kerobokan, or Hotel K, Bali's most notorious jail. Its walls touch paradise; sparkling oceans, surf beaches and palm trees on one side, while on the other it's a dark, bizarre and truly frightening underworld of sex, drugs, violence and squalor. Hotel K's filthy and disease ridden cells have been home to the infamous and the tragic: a Balinese King, Gordon Ramsay's brother, Muslim terror bombers, beautiful women tourists and surfers from across the globe. Petty thieves share cells with killers, rapists, and gangsters. Hardened drug traffickers sleep alongside unlucky tourists, who've seen their holiday turn from paradise to hell over one ecstasy pill. Hotel K is the shocking inside story of the jail and its inmates, revealing the wild 'sex nights' organised by corrupt guards for the prisoners who have cash to pay, the jail's ecstasy factory, the killings made to look like suicides, the days out at the beach, the escapes and the corruption that means anything is for sale - including a fully catered Italian jail wedding, or a luxury cell upgrade with a Bose sound system. 

 My thoughts:

I bought this book because of Kindle Daily Deal’s. Yes, I’m a sucker for them. And I’m so glad I did. Let me just say I loved this book, I gave it 5 out of 5 on Goodreads because it has been the first book I’ve read this year that I just stayed up all night to read it. I could not stop turning the pages.

The author Kathryn Bonella was at ‘Hotel K’ writing the biography of Schapelle Corby, when she found that actually all the inmates had a story to tell. Schapelle still claims her innocence and in the book she isn’t actually talked about that much. Her story is interesting though, whilst I haven’t read her biography I find her fascinating. Simply because she got 20years for drug smuggle which she denied, had she admitted it her sentence would have been a lot less but she refuses to admit to something she didn’t do. She has recently had her sentence reduced by 5 years, but I think she still has about 7 more to do. She has recently been released on parole. All of this isn’t in the book by the way; I got happy searching away on Google.

 But ANYWAY back to the book. Most inmates were guilty of their crimes and openly admitted that but were outraged by the harsh sentences they received. As the ‘what’s it all about’ states this book takes you through the reality of prison in Bali – and it ain’t pretty.

‘Hotel K’ is Kerobokan Prison in Bali and Bonella’s story is about the residents of this prison, which includes a mix of tourists who are thrown into this prison for various drug offences, and locals who have committed various minor offences. It’s a pretty international prison with the book including prisoners from Italy, Australia and the UK. It’s a prison for men and women, but the women are kept separate from men. From the sounds of the prison, it’s much more horrific than you know you’d expect prison to be. You have inmates who have cut off people’s heads, inmates who have tried to smuggle drugs into the country and inmates who have stolen a loaf of bread living side by side. This book just gives you an insight into the day to day life within this prison; just imagine how terrible it is being in Bali and being stuck in bloody prison. It also gives you an insight into how people pass the time, sometimes it sounded like a right laugh, but overall you know it’s a place that breaks you down. I don't want to spoil it for anyone so I'm being vague, but you have to read it!

I think the most important thing to note about why I liked it so much is, that the stories are all true accounts. Being someone that reads a lot of fiction, I think I forget that there are real stories out there that are also another world. That’s what I loved about this book, it felt like another world. It might has well be as it’s prison in Bali, but hey it is real life for some people.

 I think for me what made it absolutely fantastic was the pictures at the end, now I don’t know if this sounds strange, but whilst I thought the book was utterly fantastic while I was reading it they were just people. When I saw it had pictures suddenly everything became that much real. I would have given it 4 out of 5 but the pictures added that personal quality and won me over. I finished this book at 3 in the morning and was so sad that I had no more stories of sex, drugs and just prison life I guess, to keep me company :(

5 out of 5

1 comment

  1. Seems interesting.


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