Haunted Hotels Where You Can Stay … if You Dare
Norman Bates may not be our ideal innkeeper, but we ain’t afraid of no ghosts. When it comes to vacation thrills and chills, we say bring on the ghosts, the ghouls and the ghastly goblins. Ideal during Halloween season (or anytime you want to scare up some fun), GAYOT’s Most Haunted Hotels in the World guarantee goose bumps at locations ranging from old prisons to former execution grounds.
Phantoms roam the halls late at night, and paranormal investigators are as de rigueur as bellhops and front desk clerks. Gather up your courage and prepare for a supernatural hotel stay that’s sure to haunt you long after you’ve returned home.
1. Bourbon Orleans Hotel
717 Orleans St. (Bourbon St.)
New Orleans, LA 70116, U.S.A.
A rich history sets the ghostly tone at this hotel, which started life as a grand ballroom in 1817. Once host to legendary balls, this room is the hotel’s centerpiece, and many guests claim to have heard the rustling skirts of a ghost dancer from days of yore. The property was also a convent and orphanage run by free women of color. A yellow fever epidemic took the lives of many inhabitants whose spirits live on — keep an eye out for a little girl chasing a ball down the halls of the sixth floor. You might also encounter the ghosts of a young man who kisses women who catch his fancy and a confederate soldier wielding a weapon. This French Quarter treasure is often included on city ghost tours, but staying here is essential for those seeking to get up-close-and-personal with paranormal New Orleans.
Hotel Features: Business center, Meeting room, Swimming pool, Fitness center, Restaurant, Free Wi-Fi
2. Castello Della Castelluccia
Via Carlo Cavina, 40 (Via del Casale della Castelluccia)
(RM) 00123 Rome, Italy
Emperor Nero is famed for playing the fiddle while ancient Rome burned. These days, he spends his time in an equally spooky fashion: wandering restlessly from his tomb to the nearby Castello Della Castelluccia, seeking a peaceful place to sleep. Creepier still, he’s not alone. At this 10th-century aristocrat’s castle in the Lazio countryside outside Rome, he shares the local spirit world with an alchemist who was killed when struck by lightning in the tower in the 1600s. Guests have also seen apparitions of horses sold by one of the castle’s noblemen to pay off a gambling debt. Sent to a foreign land, they soon died, and their ghosts returned to Italy, where they gallop across the grounds at night.
Hotel Features: Restaurant, Spa, Swimming pool, Meeting room, Free Wi-Fi
3. Château de Brissac
Rue Louis Moron (D55)
49320 Brissac France
Château de Brissac looks like an idyllic fairytale destination, with a handful of lavish bedrooms that gaze over a peaceful park setting. But the undercurrent is more poisoned apple than happily ever after. The castle dates back to the 11th century, and a few hundred years later it experienced an incident that anchors it among the most haunted properties in the world. Legends vary, but it’s known for certain that the owner found his wife Charlotte with her young lover and brutally killed them both. He went mad and lost the castle, but Charlotte’s ghost remained. She is known as The Green Lady for the gown she wears during her wanderings, and guests have encountered her often over the years — moaning in the morning hours and wailing as she tries to remove a sword from her chest.
Hotel Features: Complimentary breakfast, Meeting room, Free Wi-Fi
Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 5NJ, U.K.
Nothing says family vacation like a castle hotel with sprawling gardens, proximity to scenic beaches and a torture chamber with its own stretching rack, bed of nails and thumb screws. Dating back to the 12th century, this stronghold has changed little over time. It has been owned by one continuous bloodline throughout its history — the most unfortunate members of the family were famously drawn and quartered. All night vigils are led by paranormal investigators, and regular supernatural occurrences include a pale figure adrift in the pantry and voices in the chapel. On-site, self-catering apartments make it easy to feel as if you have the place to yourself… almost. Brave souls should book the Pink Room, home to the ghost of a young boy whose bones were found within the walls.
Hotel Features: Meeting room
5. The Emily Morgan Hotel, A DoubleTree by Hilton
705 E. Houston St.
San Antonio TX 78205 U.S.A.
Is it or isn’t it? Haunted, that is. While it’s hard to imagine this handsome hotel awash in ghosts, believers insist on the presence of apparitions and unexplained bumps in the night. Reported paranormal activity includes a bathtub filling on its own and a mysterious woman in a white dress wandering the halls. Perhaps it’s because the building once housed a medical facility with a psychiatric ward and morgue, but the Emily Morgan is on the bucket list of any self-respecting ghost hunter.
Hotel Features: Business center, Meeting room, Swimming pool, Restaurant, Free Wi-Fi, Fitness center, Pets allowed
6. HI-Ottawa Jail
75 Nicholas St.
Ottawa ON K1N7B9, Canada
Staying overnight in a creepy former jail is spooky enough without disembodied footsteps, a yard filled with unmarked graves and the ghost of a hanged inmate wandering the halls. Serving as a maximum security prison from 1862 to 1972, the old Carleton County Gaol was notorious for public executions and was the last official working gallows in Canada. The gallows remain, along with cells that Hostelling International has turned into guest rooms, complete with iron bars. Located downtown, this spooky property lightens the mood with their on-site Mugshots bar. If you still think the macabre factor is too much, though, take solace in the fact that dorm-style rooms mean you’ll never have to spend the night in solitary confinement.
Hotel Features: Complimentary breakfast, Free Wi-Fi
Invalīdu iela 4 (Turaidas iela)
Orange may be the new black, but most prisons-turned-hotels merely hint at a history of incarceration. Not so Karostas Cietums. To participate in the heart-pounding Extreme Night here, you must sign a waiver agreeing to be “punished” if you disobey the rules. And your room is no faux cell — it’s the real deal, right down to the iron bed and graffiti of former inmates on the walls. Built circa 1900 and serving as a military prison until 1997, this former KGB detention center belongs in the double-dog-dare-you category. But if you’re too terrified to stay the night, you can just visit the museum or sign up for Behind Bars, an interactive online program based on historical prison incidents.
Hotel Features: Adults-Only
230 Second St.
Fall River MA 02721 U.S.A.
Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks… or so the folk legend claims. The law states otherwise. Lizzie was acquitted of killing her mother and father in 1893, but her reputation as a cold-blooded murderer lives on, most notably at this B&B. Eight accommodations here include the room where Lizzie’s mother was found. It’s even decorated in period furnishings for authenticity. You can also sleep in the attic, once home to the maid who many believe was the real killer. Vacations at this 19th-century, Greek Revival house include a full historical tour and daily breakfast of fruit and johnnycakes: the same meal Lizzie’s parents ate on the morning they were murdered.
Hotel Features: Bed and Breakfast, Complimentary breakfast, Free Wi-Fi
9. The Queen Mary
1126 Queen’s Hwy.
Long Beach CA 90802 U.S.A.
During her 20th-century heyday, The Queen Mary was one of the world’s greatest ocean liners. She was also the site of nearly 50 deaths during her time at sea. From her berth in Southern California, she welcomes hordes of tourists with paranormal tours, ghost dinners and séances. You can take a tour, sure, but if you’re feeling fearless, stay the whole night. While you’re at it, book an interior (windowless) stateroom. When the tourists go home, it will be just you, some staff, a few fellow guests and dim empty hallways. As you explore, you might hear the sailor who died during a fire who now beats on pipes in the old engine room in an attempt to escape, or encounter the young girl who broke her neck in the pool area and who continues to wander the ship in search of her mother. Suffice it to say: beware!
Hotel Features: Business center, Meeting room, Restaurants, Spa, Fitness center, Pets allowed, Free Wi-Fi
10. The Stanley Hotel
333 Wonderview Ave.
Estes Park CO 80517 U.S.A.
Jack Nicholson may have secured The Stanley in the annals of haunted hotels, but this lodging was the inspiration for Stephen King’s classic, “The Shining,” for good reason. It welcomed its inaugural guests in 1909 and reported its first haunting in the 1950s with the arrival of the ghost of the chief housekeeper who was critically injured in a mysterious explosion not long after the hotel opened. Since then there have been rumors of children laughing in empty halls and the original owner’s wife playing the piano in the middle of the night. The hotel capitalizes on its legacy, and while some aspects like REDRUM mugs are cheesy, the nail-biting nightly tours and 5-hour Ghosts Hunts led by official paranormal investigators are downright creepy.
Hotel Features: Business center, Meeting room, Swimming pool, Tennis, Restaurant, Pets allowed, Free Wi-Fi