For some thrill-seekers, there’s nothing like a room with a boo.
Perhaps it’s thanks to films like The Shining and its real-life inspiration, the Stanley Hotel, but spending the night in a hotel with a history of spooky occurrences is some people’s idea of a great time. Yes, really.
It’s not exactly a pursuit for the faint-hearted, but there is a whole subset of travellers who delight in the spine-chilling thought of an uninvited guest lurking in the shadows. But whether you believe in paranormal phenomenon or err on the sceptical side, the captivating myths and backstories surrounding these eerie establishments and their alleged spectres are well worth your time alone.
From ghostly visions of past patrons overstaying their welcome, former employees eerily wandering the halls, poltergeists that go bump in the night - or even apparitions of the rich and famous - there are hotels around the world steeped in rumour, mystery and urban legend.
So if paranormal activity is a hotel amenity you can’t go without, take a look at our pick of locations famed for their ghoulish sightings and unexplained phenomena. Welcome to the 20 spookiest hotels in the world. Read on, if you dare…
20 The Maori Princess Who Wanders The Waitomo Caves Hotel, New Zealand
Built in 1908 on the site of a former British fort, this hotel is near the Waitomo Caves, which are considered sacred by local Maori. The hotel has quite the reputation and paranormal investigators have reported an absolute cornucopia of suspected spectres. These include a child, a Maori man, a Maori princess and a woman clad in distinctly Victorian clothes.
Room 12a - there is no room 13 at the hotel - is a particularly active spot and guests have reported objects moving, seemingly of their own accord, and a lamp being lifted off the ground. Eek.
19 Heartbroken Maidens And More At Ross Castle, Ireland
If you are looking for a creepy castle, then this is your gaff. Situated on eerie Lough Sheelin in the northern reaches of County Meath, Ross Castle was built in 1536 but then destroyed in subsequent years, and restored in 1860.
The castle has quite the turbulent history. Throughout the middle-ages, the region had been the battleground between the Anglo-Saxon conquerors and the Celtic Irish. The castle also saw its share of heartbroken maidens and handsome young men meeting their demise.
Numerous bizarre experiences have been reported by guests and staff alike. Guests frequently mention waking up at various times during the night, hearing the sounds of doors shutting on their own and the whispering of voices. A few have even felt the presence of someone or something lurking in the room. Got the heebie-jeebies yet?
18 The Hotel That Inspired Stephen King - The Stanley Hotel, Colorado
If you’ve ever seen or read The Shining, this eerie Colorado hotel was author Stephen King’s inspiration behind it. Built in 1907 by the founder of Stanley Steamer automobiles, today the hotel celebrates its spooky reputation by hosting ghost tours for visitors.
Apparitions of Mr. Stanley and his wife are frequently reported passing through the lobby and billiard room, and can even be heard tinkling the ivories on occasion. Sounds of giggling children, whispering voices and phantom footsteps have also been reported, as have lights switching on and off. Maybe this joint just needs new wiring.
17 One Female Guest Refuses To Check-Out Of The Hawthorne Hotel, Salem
Salem has a notorious history, so it’s little wonder the Massachusetts city is prone to stories of restless spirits, witchcraft and other spooky goings on - and you’ll find these in abundance at the Hawthorne.
Named after Salem’s most famous son, the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, this hotel is reportedly a site of paranormal activity and, in particular, room 612. The apparition of a woman has been seen to wander the halls outside the room, often pausing in front of the door.
16 Coulrophobics Look Away: The Clown Motel, USA
About halfway between Las Vegas and Reno is Tonopah, home to one of the freakiest hotels in the world. If you find clowns unnerving, then The Clown Motel is not for you.
The place is exactly what it sounds like - a motel dedicated to clown images, figurines, statues, toys, and other miscellaneous items. The front office is filled with shelf-upon-shelf of clown figures, every room is clown-themed, there are clowns on the doors, and portraits of clowns on the walls.
To make matters worse, the motel is located next to a cemetery, which can be seen from the property's rooms. Just great.
15 The Bellman And The Bride - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
This palatial hotel was built in 1888, but its majestic views of the Rockies might not be the most memorable part of your stay. Word is, there are a few 'extra' residents who inhabit its historic halls.
Some visitors and staff say they've seen a ghostly bride walking up and down the hotel's marble staircases and dancing in the ballroom. A couple of the rooms are supposed to have noisy spirits that keep guests awake at night.
Stories of Sam McCauley, a genial old Scotsman who was head bellman during the sixties and seventies, have been circulating around the hotel since his passing in 1975. Supposedly, Sam is the helpful sort, and most stories involve him providing a service to staff or guests. What’s the tipping etiquette for ghosts?
14 Ghost Tours Of The Queen Mary, California
The RMS Queen Mary is a retired British ocean liner that sailed on the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. Today it’s a floating hotel, permanently docked in Long Beach, California, and it’s a glorious place to stay, but be prepared for a ghostly encounter or two - it has something of an eerie reputation.
A shadowy woman has allegedly been seen in the Queen’s Salon and a well-dressed gentleman in old-fashioned duds has made more than one appearance in the first class suites. Giggling children have been heard near a storage room, and if that’s not enough for you, Cabin B340 is no longer open to guests because of a number of paranormal sightings in and around there. No wonder the hotel offers ghost tours.
13 Napoleon III Roams The Halls Of The Langham Hotel, London
This West End London hotel opened its doors in 1865 and was a favourite haunt of notable writers, including Oscar Wilde, George Orwell and Arthur Conan Doyle. Apparently, it's also a haunt of several supernatural guests who refuse to leave.
A phantom in Victorian garb often appears in October, supposedly, and there have been visions of a German prince. The BBC even published reports of Napolean III roaming the halls. Room 333 is where most of these ghost sightings take place, so you may want to request a different room.
12 Fame And Phantoms At The Hotel Chelsea, New York
This artists’ hangout is well-known for providing lodging to rock stars and cultural celebrities over the years. Notable guests include William S. Burroughs, Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Jimi Hendrix. It has also served as the subject, muse and backdrop for many books, songs and films and has become a fixture in the New York City art scene.
But according to believers, a few guests, including writer Dylan Thomas, may have never checked out. There have been a wide variety of claims attached to the Chelsea Hotel from cold and hot spots, gushes of wind in rooms with all windows and doors closed, personal items being moved, the sounds of doors, drawers and windows opening when none have been touched, and the sounds of loud footsteps outside of guests' rooms.
11 Even Baseball Players Get Spooked At The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee
This historical landmark in Milwaukee is the home of professional baseball and basketball teams whenever they are in town. It’s also home to some spooky, unexplained activity.
Major league baseball players have reported a wide range of paranormal activity when staying the hotel. Some of the things they reported are electrical anomalies, object manipulations and apparitions, and the main culprit is allegedly the ghost of the hotel’s original owner, Charles Pfister. If it’s spooky enough for tough-guy MLB players to publicly admit, it’s spooky enough for us.
10 Golden Age Ghouls At The Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a historic hotspot which opened its doors in 1927 and has hosted countless rich, famous and paranormal patrons ever since. Among their unofficial guests are rumoured to be Marilyn Monroe, who has been spotted in the mirror of room 229, and Montgomery Clift, who has been heard playing his trumpet in room 928. Carole Lombard has apparently made a few appearances on the 12th floor, where she and her husband Clark Gable used to stay.
Other sightings involve a little girl in a blue dress named Caroline. There have also been reports of cold spots, photographic "orbs", and mysterious phone calls to the hotel operator.
9 The Old Knitting Woman - Hotel Berchielli, Italy
Built in the mid-20th century in Florence, this hotel has always been a popular residence for politicians, musicians and artists. However, a handful of other guests have left an even stronger impression.
Reportedly, the spectre of a woman sitting in a chair and knitting has been spotted on numerous occasions, as has the vision of a little child skipping in the hallways. Inexplicable icy wafts of air are sometimes felt by guests. Maybe the hotel has a draft problem?
8 America’s Spookiest Home? Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana
This charming converted Louisiana plantation house operates as a bed and breakfast. Oh, and it’s also touted as one of the spookiest homes in America.
Legend has it was built over the site of a burial ground, and the spirits underneath are sometimes restless. The Antebellum property is supposedly home to at least 12 ghosts, including children and soldiers.
In 2001, Unsolved Mysteries filmed a segment about the alleged hauntings at the plantation, and according to host Robert Stack, the production crew experienced unexplained technical difficulties during the production. The Myrtles also featured on a 2005 episode of Ghost Hunters.
7 The Spirit Of A Sailor At The Russell Hotel, Australia
This old colonial hotel flanks Sydney’s Circular Quay and sits in a once-seedy part of town known simply as The Rocks. The hotel was once a smallpox hospital but is now famous for the spectre of a sailor who never made it back out sea.
Today, he reportedly lurks in the entrance hall and in guest rooms, and he’s particularly fond of room eight. Staff members have also heard unexplained footsteps over creaky floors. Take one of the ghost tours arranged by the hotel, and you might just see him for yourself.
6 The Former Manager Who Just Won’t Quit - The Ahwahnee Hotel, California
The Ahwahnee is one of the most historic and luxurious hotels in Yosemite, and it’s home to a few occasional guests who visit from beyond the grave.
Mary Curry Tressider was a woman who was crucial to the development of the hotel and lived in an apartment on the hotel’s sixth floor until her passing in the 1970s. Ever since, guests have reported seeing her wandering the halls and checking on guests. Others have heard a rocking chair in a fourth-floor suite - but there’s no rocking chair in the room.
5 Sleep In A Coffin At Propeller Island City Lodge, Germany
Propeller Island is Berlin’s most zany hotel, which is really saying something. Each of its 27 rooms is a celebration of artistic creativity. It certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill hotel. One room is completely enclosed by mirrors, one is a prison cell. Another has pieces of furniture that are all shaped like buildings, another has cages and there are even upside-down rooms.
While there are no rumours of unexplained bumps in the night, there is one room not for the easily spooked, or the claustrophobic - the crypt room, where you sleep in a coffin. Freaky.
4 The 'Chilling' Britain Hotel - Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
Chillingham Castle by name, Chillingham by nature. This 13th century stronghold in Northumberland is famed for action and battles. And ghosts.
Reportedly the most haunted hotel in Britain, the castle boasts some of the highest levels of paranormal activity in the country, with a large collection of spectres and apparitions spotted by visitors over the years.
Its ghostly residents include The Blue Boy and Lady Mary, whom guests have reported to have heard wailing and seen floating through the castle, which pretty much makes this the perfect stay for those who like their holidays with a side of chills.
3 Get The Full Prison Experience - Karosta Prison Hostel, Latvia
This converted prison now offers a full “inmate experience,’ in Communist-era conditions, where guests can “enjoy” physical exercise drills and more - everything you've ever wanted in a hotel, right?
This former military prison was used by the Nazis, Soviets and Latvians, and with a history like that, it’s no wonder the hotel is now apparently spooked. It’s a chilling place to stay and there have been reports of light bulbs that unscrew from their sockets, doors that open by themselves, and the sound of chains can be heard echoing down the halls. It’s so renowned that it even featured on an episode of the SciFi Channel’s Ghost Hunters International.
2 The Lovelorn Grey Lady Who Stalks Dalhousie Castle, Scotland
Located on the banks of the river Esk, a few miles south of Edinburgh, Dalhousie Castle is the 13th-century ancestral home of the Ramsay family. Today, the Dalhousie Castle and Spa, as it’s known, is a stunningly luxurious and traditional hotel, packed to the rafters with period features, antiques and relics - and a number of ghostly spectres.
Take a midnight tour of the 850-year-old castle, exploring corridors, nooks and crannies not usually open to, or often overlooked by guests, and you’ll learn all about the ghouls that walk the halls. Among them is the 16-year-old, heart-broken Lady Catherine, the Grey Lady, who is often spotted in one of the towers or wandering the downstairs corridors looking for her lost love.
1 A Supernatural Drinking Companion At The Dauphine Orleans Hotel, New Orleans
New Orleans has no shortage of paranormal locales, but Dauphine Orleans Hotel is one of its most notorious destinations. Just a block away from the razzmatazz of Bourbon Street, things take an eerie turn at the hotel, where ghost sightings are frequent.
There have been reports of spectres from soldiers to well-dressed courtesans, and even a resident ghost at the bar. He is supposedly to blame for glasses falling off the bar top and shattering to the ground, and the inexplicable noises that freak out clientele. That’s a ghost who’s had one too many cocktails.