World travel

Spooky Haunted Hotels: Where to Stay on Halloween

Do you believe in the supernatural? There are those of us who have seen apparitions, heard the mournful cries of restless spirits and felt the unnerving touch of something not quite here.

The world has always had a keen interest in the paranormal, which is why haunted hotels are so highly sought-after. Both sceptics and believers stay at these historic establishments, drawn by their ghostly sightings and the fascinating histories that surround each property. You could stay at home this Halloween, guarding the front door with candy, but why not book a room at one of these haunted hotels and see for yourself if the stories are true.

Hotel Burchianti – Italy

Hotel Burchianti
Photo | Hotel Burchianti | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Ghostly sightings are commonplace at the circa-1919 Hotel Burchianti, which sits a few steps from the Duomo in Florence’s city centre. Guests of this hotel have told stories of a deceased maid performing her cleaning rounds in the early hours of morning. There have also been sightings of children skipping down the halls, à la The Shining, and a woman knitting in her favourite chair.

One room, in particular, is a hotspot of paranormal activity. Known as the “Fresco Room”, it has reportedly left guests feeling quite unnerved after they felt they were being watched or experienced cold breathing on their faces. Still, it’s hard to look past the hotel’s elegance, from the artful rooms and gourmet Italian delicacies to the famous poets and singers who have called it home.

Chateau de Marcay – France

Chateau de Marcay
Photo | Chateau de Marcay | Provided by BOOKING.COM

The 15th-century castle that houses Chateau de Marcay exudes a sense of grandeur but also mystery. Converted into a hotel in 1973, this storied residence is well-known for its urban legends, especially a story regarding a female residence who, on nights with a full moon, would transform into a werewolf. She was apparently slain by a farmer and still haunts the hotel grounds today in her human form wearing a white dress.

Many travellers stay at the chateau in hopes of sighting this woman, but we’re quite certain they stick around for the heated swimming pool, tennis courts and widely recognised restaurant, Le Table de Marcay. The 22 rooms reflect old-world charm, including a select few with private balconies overlooking the parkland.

Stanley Hotel – Colorado, USA

Stanley Hotel
Photo | Stanley Hotel | Provided by ICE PORTAL

One of the world’s most famous haunted hotels, the legendary Stanley Hotel was Steven King’s inspiration for the fictitious Overlook Hotel in his horror novel, The Shining. The hotel has embraced its reputation, offering nightly ghost tours that teach you more about its ghoulish past.

The Colorado hotel is also ideally located for outdoor activities, such as rock climbing and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Select rooms feature heightened paranormal activity, such as the Stephen King Suite 217, which boasts the hotel’s typical antique furnishings and views over the valley.

Lord Milner Hotel – Matjiesfontein, South Africa

Lord Milner Hotel
Photo | Lord Milner Hotel | Provided by BOOKING.COM

South Africa’s Lord Milner Hotel is a capsule of old-world elegance and tradition. It’s the little things here that make you feel like royalty, such as being summoned for dinner by trumpeters or classically furnished room with a sunlit spa bath. The turreted hotel also has an inviting outdoor pool with views of mountains in the Great Karoo desert.

The hotel’s dark history as a command headquarter during the South African War lends it a supernatural appeal. The spirits of former guests have been seen wandering the halls on occasion, such as Lucy, who is known for making noises behind doors.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel – Canada

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Photo | Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel | Provided by LEONARDO

The landmark Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is commonly referred to as the “Castle in the Rockies”. The 19th-century manor is a castle indeed with its angular roof and brick facade. The service here is charming, particularly the ghost of a deceased doorman, Sam, who reportedly helps guests with their bags from time to time.

There have also been sightings of a bride, who fell to her death down the stone staircase during her wedding. You’ll recognise the staircase instantly, but it’s just a glimmer of opulence that abounds within this hotel, as it also features gourmet French dining in The Vermillion Room and the revitalising Willow Stream Spa.

Toftaholm Herrgard – Sweden

Toftaholm Herrgard
Photo | Toftaholm Herrgard | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Toftaholm Herrfard embraces its in-house ghost, Matt, who is occasionally spotted wandering the halls and manor grounds. His past is ripe with tortured love after the girl he loved was forced into an arranged marriage. Fortunately, Matt isn’t known for disturbing any guests as they slumber in the hotel’s traditional rooms, which feature antique furnishings and modern technology.

The grand hotel is popular among HotelsCombined visitors for its fine-dining restaurant, where you can indulge in a delectable breakfast and inspired local dinners. They also rave about its lakeside setting and surrounding parklands that are perfect for leisurely walks in the countryside.

The Jekyll Island Club – Georgia, USA

The Jekyll Island Club
Photo | The Jekyll Island Club | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Nestled on Jekyll Creek in the heart of Jekyll Island’s historic district, Jekyll Island Club showcases the glamour and style of Georgia’s earlier years. The boutique rooms are surrounded by manicured lawns and the peaceful waterfront, while on-site dining includes Southern fine dining in the Grand Dining Room and live music at The Wharf.

No storied hotel would be complete without its own spine-tingling hauntings, such as former railroad executive, Samuel Spencer, who’s known for visiting his favourite suite. Guests have also spoken of smelling cigar smoke at the same time each morning. There’s not cigar lounge, but the hotel does have multiple pools, croquet and beach horse riding.

Castle Leslie Estate – County Monaghan, Ireland

The regal Castle Leslie Estate was once home to the proud Leslie family. It was so beloved as their family home that some Leslies still haven’t left. Sightings of Leslie family members are often reported by guests, such as Norman Leslie hard at work in the Red Room.

This rich heritage is felt throughout the hotel, from the well-stocked library and deep-soaking copper tubs to the 2 AA Rosette award-winning Snaffles Restaurant and the fireplace in Conor’s Bar. The Castle rooms are adorned with beautiful antique furnishings while the communal Drawing Room has a grand piano and crackling fireplace.

Queen Mary Hotel – California, USA

Queen Mary Hotel
Photo| Queen Mary Hotel | Provided by BOOKING.COM | SHUTTERSTOCK – GAGLIARDIPHOTOGRAPHY

The former World War II warship on Queensway Bay was also a luxury cruise liner and is now considered a hotbed of paranormal activity, particularly in the engine room. It has been the site of numerous deaths and guests have talked often of seeing deceased passengers within the rooms.

The hotel welcomes its supernatural reputation, putting on Halloween events, such as the creepy Dark Harbor mazes, bars and rides. Choose from almost 350 elaborately decorated rooms and suites that encapsulate the hotel’s grand past as a cruise liner. The popular Deluxe Stateroom has Art Deco decor, openable portholes and a separate tea area.

Airth Castle – Scotland

The 14th-century Airth Castle is renowned for its on-site dining, including locally-inspired dishes under a pyramid of glass in The Grill Room. The hotel’s grounds also house one of Scotland’s most luxurious day spas, which boasts a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and solarium.

With such incredible old-world luxury comes a storied past and a range of ghostly encounters, including an ankle-nipping dog. However, one of the most common sightings is that of a nanny and two young children who supposedly died during a fire. There are numerous reasons to stay inside the hotel, but you’d be remiss not strolling around the grounds or venturing north for a pint at Elphinstone Inn.

The Marshall House – Georgia, USA

A popular stop on any Savannah ghost tour, The Marshall House is as famous for its regal history as it is for its resident ghosts. Located on Broughton Street, it’s one of the city’s oldest hotels and retains its charm with brick walls, distinct architecture and a grand staircase.

Ghostly encounters have helped grow the hotel’s fame. Guests have experienced faucets turning on and off, echoing voices down the halls, wiggling doorknobs and, in the former room of author Joel Chandler Harris, the sound of an old typewriter. Some guests have even seen the old proprietor, Mary Marshall, in the hallways. Fortunately, it’s not all about ghosts at The Marshall House, which also boasts historic photographs, wine receptions and a delightful breakfast restaurant.

Ballygally Castle Hotel – Northern Ireland

Ballygally Castle
Photo | Ballygally Castle | Provided by LEONARDO

The story of Lady Isobella Shaw is one you’ll hear a lot while staying at Ballygally Castle Hotel. She lived in the castle around 1625 and can now be seen wandering inside in search of her lost child. The enchanting castle sets the scene for spooky encounters with its tasteful rooms featuring beamed ceilings, period furnishings and views of the wild sea.

The chandeliered dining hall has a fireplace and serves a full Irish breakfast crafted from locally-sourced produce. Located on the rugged Antrim Coast, the hotel is also a great place to stay while embarking on day and multi-day tours to shooting locations from the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.

Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park Hotel – Australia

Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park Hotel
Photo | Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park Hotel | Provided by ICE PORTAL

It’s hard to imagine a picturesque location such as Manly’s North Head having one of Australia’s most haunted sites. A former quarantine station, Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park Hotel delivers chills and luxury in equal measure. The hotel is housed within historic buildings where quarantined migrants and sailors have lived and died, and the grounds contain the old burial sites.

You can learn more about Q Station’s past and potentially experience paranormal encounters on a guided ghost tour or a sleepover stay. Don’t worry, unlike its history, the accommodations aren’t ghastly. They have heritage furnishings, private water-facing balconies and separate lounge rooms.

Karosta Prison Hostel – Latvia

Have you ever wanted to experience a night as a prisoner? Karosta Prison Hostel lets you spend the night in a former Nazi and Soviet prison, where you’ll sleep in an iron bed and eat a typical prison meal. Guests (ahem, prisoners) also have to prepare for routine inspections and perform courtyard drills.

Don’t worry, you can take it a little easier by booking the “chief officer dream room”, which lets you opt for breakfast in bed served by a prison guard. Many guests who stay here recall strange instances throughout the night, including lightbulbs unscrewing from their sockets and doors opening by themselves.

Bourbon Orleans – New Orleans, USA

Bourbon Orleans
Photo | Bourbon Orleans | Provided by ICE PORTAL

The centuries-old Bourbon Orleans is a place of rich history and ghost stories. If only the walls could talk. Instead, you might spot one of the remaining spirits still lingering in the hotel. A young girl has been seen rolling a ball down the sixth-floor hallway and there’s a ghost of a soldier who supposedly inhabits the third and sixth floors.

No ghosts have been spotted around the extravagant pool area yet, nor in the Bourbon “O” Jazz Bar, which pairs live jazz music with cocktails. New Orleans’ French charm flows throughout the hotel, particularly in the spacious loft suites, which have downstairs living rooms, plush queen-size beds, wet bars and, in some, private balconies.

Tulloch Castle Hotel – Scotland

Tulloch Castle Hotel
Photo | Tulloch Castle Hotel | Provided by ICE PORTAL

Dating back to the 12th century, Tulloch Castle Hotel is a magnificent residence filled with period furnishings, antique fireplaces and cathedral-esque ceilings. Some of the rooms have four-poster beds, chandeliers or balconies, while the larger suites overlook the country town of Dingwall.

Tulloch Castle Hotel’s grand dining areas attract a lot of guests, including the Green Lady Bar, which is named after the most-sighted ghost on the property. The Green Lady, as she’s known, is believed to be Elizabeth Davidson and has her portrait hanging in the castle’s Great Hall. Paranormal teams have frequently investigated the castle, capturing balls of light, bangs and orbs on film.

The Don CeSar – Florida, USA

The Don CeSar
Photo | The Don CeSar | Provided by LEONARDO

At first glance, the pink facade of The Don CeSar looks more like one of Barbie’s dream mansions than a haunted house. The ghost stories here may be a little idealised, but it’s hard to completely discredit the numerous sightings of the hotel’s founder, Thomas Rowe, walking around the grounds.

Of course, the interior of The Don CeSar is as luxurious as its exterior. The ocean-facing suites come with separate living rooms, coastal decor and balconies, while The Don CeSar Spa offers whirlpool baths, aromatic steam rooms and herbal teas. It also has an ice-cream parlour, a cafe with custom carving stations and a bar deck with fire pits.

Langham Hotel – England

Langham Hotel
Photo | Langham Hotel | Provided by BOOKING.COM

The award-winning Langham Hotel is a London landmark and designer hotel with 5-star dining, accommodations and service. There’s every reason to feel at peace here, whether you’re being pampered by holistic treatments in the spa or enjoying a High Tea of scones and patisseries. Short and long stays are available in modern rooms, suites and residences, the latter of which have full kitchens, terraces and sprawling living rooms.

If you end up staying in room 333, keep an eye out for a man dressed in Victorian evening wear who apparently appears in October. There have also been sightings of a man in military garb on the fourth floor and of a German prince. The ghosts are almost more famous than the hotel’s former guests, which include Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain.

Port Arthur Motor Inn – Australia

Port Arthur Motor Inn
Photo | Port Arthur Motor Inn | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Port Arthur Motor Inn is the only accommodation on the Port Arthur Historic Site, where thousands of convicts lived and died during Australia’s earliest years. It’s considered one of, if not the most haunted place in Australia where ghost stories seemingly come to life late at night with strange noises and lights.

Relatively budget-friendly, the rooms at Port Arthur Motor Inn have sitting tables, comfortable bedding and contemporary bedrooms. The on-site restaurant serves classic Australian pub staples and cold beer and you can book a package that includes a ghost tour of the infamous penal buildings within Port Arthur. The inn is popular with road-trippers who use it as a launching pad for exploring Tasman National Park.

Dragsholm Slot – Denmark

Dragsholm Slot
Photo | Dragsholm Slot | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Dragsholm Slot has received numerous awards over the last few years thanks to its Michelin-star dining, impressive event and meeting halls and chandeliered rooms with period furnishings and bay windows. Gastronomy is a passion here, evident in the on-site herb garden and at the summertime Food Bar and open kitchen-style Bistro.

Dragsholm Slot also offers various on-site activities, including skeet shooting, guided herb walks, flower arranging, billiards and wine tasting. Are we forgetting anything? Oh yes, the hotel is also very much haunted. Multiple guests have seen two mysterious women and one man walking around the premises. The man is supposedly the Earl of Bothwell, who died in the castle’s prison cellar in 1578.

Author: Ben Stower

I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.

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