Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Notable Residents: James Stockdale, Bud Day, Senator John McCain
Amenities: POWs were tortured into providing false statements about the U.S. government and their treatment at the prison
Jokingly referred to as the "Hanoi Hilton," French colonists used the Hỏa Lò Prison to house political prisoners; during the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese used the space to house political prisoners. Hỏa Lò means "stove" or "Hell's hole."
It was built at the end of the 19th century with the intention of holding prisoners who had fought for independence while Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. Prisoners faced torture and execution, and the prison was consistently overcrowded.
U.S. prisoners were held at Hỏa Lò during the Vietnam War, where they endured the same subhuman conditions. American prisoners of war coined the nickname the "Hanoi HIlton" after the hotel chain. A new area of the prison was opened in 1967 for new POWs called "Little Vegas"; certain areas were named after landmarks on the Vegas Strip. Again, prisoners were subjected to brutal torture during interrogation, with the North Vietnamese attempting to get written or recorded statements from American POWs that criticized the America's involvement in the war and praised their treatment by their captors. When POWs were released, their testimony exposed gratuitous abuse, which the North Vietnamese denied. Following the war, neither the U.S. nor any of its allies opted to charge the North Vietnamese for the alleged war crimes committed at Hỏa Lò and other war prisons.
The Hanoi Hilton got the Hollywood treatment in 1987, via the Lionel Chetwynd film of the same name. It was partially demolished during the mid '90s. The room where POWs were interrogated has been remodeled to look like a non-threatening barracks-style room, and ironically, a Hanoi Hilton hotel opened in 1999, though under the name the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel. Doesn't sound anything like a place where prisoners were tortured.