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14 haunted hotels where you can stay overnight

Looking to be too scared to sleep? Here’s the 14 spookiest hotels in the world and their ghosts

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They say every hotel has its ghosts, and for true fans of horror, Halloween never really ends. So if your top hotel amenity includes malevolent spirits, we rounded up 14 of the most (allegedly) haunted hotels that offer comfort and grandeur—but also tragedy, murder, mystery, and restless ghosts.

From hotels so haunted you have to sign waivers to enter to brooding English castles with long, bloody histories, these hotels are no stranger to ghosts: they all have reports of apparitions, malfunctioning technology, elevators with a mind of their own, disembodied voices, and more. Book a paranormal stay at one or more of these haunted hotels and prepare to meet things that go bump in the night—and guests that never got the chance to check out.

1. The Emily Morgan Hotel, San Antonio, Texas

Emily Morgan Hotel
Credit: The Emily Morgan Hotel

The Emily Morgan Hotel amongst the San Antonio skyline

This gorgeous neo-Gothic hotel is recognized as a historic landmark but was actually in the top five of USAToday’s list of best haunted hotels last year. The building operated as a hospital and psychiatric ward, complete with a morgue and crematorium, until the ’80s. Turns out this little tidbit has a lot to do with its hauntings.

Its ghosts: Most of the hauntings, by no surprise, come from the most prominent floors of the old medical facility: the seventh (psychiatric ward), ninth (surgery floor), and fourteenth floor (waiting area). Guests and staff report an overwhelming smell of antiseptic on the fourteenth floor. Front desk attendants usually receive phone calls in the night, only to pick up and find no one on the other end. They’ll also get calls from the elevators, even if there is no one using them. Guests have reported their room phones suddenly ringing at night. The elevators go up and down without anyone inside, sometimes skip past your requested floor, and creepiest of all, are known to take guests down to the basement—where the morgue was.

The one thing unlike anything on this list are what the guests have most commonly reported. These include going through the hallway doors or having the elevator doors open on their floor only to be eerily greeted by what looks like a hospital in full operation. Others have reported seeing nurses pushing gurneys down the hall, and sounds of hospital carts. The hotel does not have a thirteenth floor, and on the fourteenth floor, there is no Room 1408 because the numbers add up to 13.

Status: You can book a room. Maybe your elevator will take you down to the old morgue too.

2. Malmaison, Oxford, England

Malmaison Oxford Castle Prison at night
Credit: Malmaison

Malmaison standing at night

Fancy a visit to the beautiful academic city of Oxford, England? Perhaps you’ll consider staying in the old Oxford Castle Prison, a former jailhouse set in a historic Victorian castle. Converted into a hotel after the prison closed in 1996, there are still some prison-like cells you can stay in, with the original iron doors and vaulted ceilings. The amount of activity has led to an exorcism on the grounds.

Its ghosts: Of course, a prison means many of the prisoners were tortured and hung. The ghost of Mary Blandy is said to be a permanent resident, sentenced to death in 1752 for poisoning her father. In the 1970s, a séance took place in the castle’s prison wing, leading to a priest being called for a failed exorcism. The hotel was thoughtful of its guests though—they turned the parts of the prison used for executions into offices rather than rooms.

Status: You can book a room.

3. The Sallie House, Atchison, Kansas

The Sallie House on a cloudy day

The Sallie House, looking dark and foreboding

Atchison is touted the most haunted town in Kansas and no doubt the Sallie House, the town’s most infamous structure, contributes to that. Built in the 1800s, it belonged to Dr. Charles Finney, a physician who practiced medicine from the house, including surgery (which didn't always go so well). Evidence of demonic activity has been found. Guests and former occupants have experienced so much malevolent activity that you now have to sign a waiver before entering. Family pets and trained guide dogs have refused to enter the nursery. The house has been featured on channels like The Discovery Channel and Syfy, with audio and video proof of activity.

Its ghosts: Sallie was a child brought to Dr. Finney’s house for severe abdominal pain. Dr. Finney misdiagnosed this as appendicitis, immediately began surgery, and cut into her before the anesthesia took effect, killing her on the operating table. Hauntings amped up in the ’90s after tenants began moving in. Bizarrely, it is usually men who experience activity than women, getting scratched until they bleed and leaving with visible bruises and burns. This has led to Sallie being dubbed the man-hating ghost, with theories that it’s because the last thing she saw was a man torturing her.

Evidence of satanic rituals have been found, suggesting that Sallie isn’t just an angry ghost but a demon taking on the form of a little girl. Today, guests who visit the now-unoccupied house have reported things like video equipment that stopped working, full batteries suddenly completely draining, and bruises found after leaving.

Status: You can stay overnight or take a self-guided tour. Maybe avoid the nursery though.

4. Dragsholm Castle, Hørve, Denmark

Dragsholm Castle
Credit: Dragsholm

Dragsholm Castle on a bright day

If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a castle, try Dragsholm Castle, allegedly the most haunted castle in Europe. This beautiful 13th-century structure is located on the islet of Dragholm about 50 miles from Copenhagen. In the 1930s, a skeleton in a white dress was found behind a wall in the basement.

Its ghosts: The two verified ghosts are James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, and Celina Bovles, the daughter of a nobleman, known as The White Lady. In the 1500s, Hepburn, the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in the castle for trying to escape after jilting his fiancée, Anna Rustung, and fleeing with a huge dowry. He was chained to a pillar in isolation, where he died at age 44. Guests report seeing him in a horse-drawn carriage in the courtyard, and hearing the sound of hooves at night. There aren’t any horses on the grounds though.

The skeleton found in the ’30s was of Bovles, who fell in love with a staff member at the castle and became pregnant. She was imprisoned and chained by her father; a wall was built around her and she was left to die. Her skeleton was unearthed during work to modernize the castle’s plumbing. She has not been able to rest, and is often seen walking the corridors at night. Guests usually hear moaning and wailing coming from the second-floor corridors.

Status: You can book a room here. Just watch out for swinging chandeliers and such.

5. Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Crescent Hotel
Credit: The Crescent Hotel

An old photo of The Crescent Hotel as it was in the past

When you hear of this historical hotel’s history, it sounds like regular fodder for horror novels and films—except the history behind this one is real. Once a "cancer-curing hospital," lead doctor Norman Baker actually used his patients as failed experiments. Many died under his care.

Its ghosts: Baker’s “cure” was just crushed watermelon seeds mixed with springwater. He would cut his patients open and pour the liquid directly into their wounds. He was caught in 1940 and sentenced to only four years in prison.

Guests have heard squeaky wheels, and seen a nurse pushing a gurney down the hallway at night. Ghosts of Baker’s old patients have been seen outside certain rooms, particularly Room 419. Many of them are in Victorian clothing, as Eureka Springs used to be a Victorian village (you can still see its Victorian buildings standing today). Doors slam by themselves in the middle of the night, jolting people awake. A woman haunts Room 3500, where she stands at the foot of the bed and stares down at sleeping guests. There is photographic evidence of hauntings.

Status: You can book a room or their ghost tour, where they take you down to the morgue that's still part of the hotel.

6. The Omni Parker House, Boston, Massachusetts

The Omni Parker House

The Omni Parker House frontal view

The historical Omni Parker House opened in 1855 and is rather famous for its hauntings. It has one particular room, Room 303, that has so many reports of supernatural occurrences that Stephen King's 1999 short story, 1408, also adapted into a 2007 film starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, was based on the room. Author Charles Dickens often stayed on the third floor, where Room 303 is located.

Its ghosts: Why is Room 303 so haunted? Perhaps it’s the third floor itself. For one thing, American actress Charlotte Cushman died of pneumonia in her room on the third floor in 1876. In 1949, a liquor businessman committed suicide in Room 303 by mixing whiskey with poison. Guests often reported smelling whiskey and cigars, even after the room was cleaned. The bathtub water would turn on by itself. After constant complaints, the hotel converted the room into a storage closet.

Today, incidents continue. Elevator 1 often stops on the third floor, even when guests haven't pressed for it, opening to reveal no one inside and no one waiting outside. Guests complain about the incessant sound of a rocking chair, coming from the tenth floor. The hotel doesn't have rocking chairs.

Status: You can book a room. Keep your ears peeled for that rocking chair.

7. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel in a snowy landscape

If the Stanley Hotel looks familiar, that’s because it was the inspiration for Stephen King's terrifying 1977 novel and its 1980 film adaptation, The Shining. It was also the filming location for the 1997 TV series.

Its ghosts: Common reports include the sound of children running in the fourth-floor hallways at midnight, and disembodied giggling. You might find your luggage mysteriously unpacked upon arrival. Bathroom faucets are found running without anyone having turned them on. The hotel also has residual haunts—repeated playbacks of sensory things from past tragedies. One of these is the sound of a child calling its mother, which happens repeatedly at three in the morning. The piano is notorious for ringing out on its own. Hauntings are reported in many rooms, including Room 217—the room where Stephen King stayed in 1973, which you can still book today. Photos that guests take on the night tours have been known to show things (and people) that were never on the tour with them when the photo was taken.

Status: You can book a room or the night tour, where you can see the hotel’s paranormal hot spots.

8. Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada

Fairmont Banff Springs

Fairmont Banff Springs among the smoky mountains

This mountain resort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has welcomed guests like Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth II. However, it's marred by hauntings, including a family murder-suicide.

Its ghosts: Room 873 was the site of the family murder-suicide and has gotten so many reports of violent supernatural activity that the hotel actually bricked off the room in response. Those who stayed in Room 873 before it was sealed off heard bloodcurdling screams that woke them up, and experienced pillows being yanked out from under their heads—perhaps the residual haunting of the family's murder. The hotel denies such a murder and claims there is no room behind a brick wall. However, while rooms end in “73” on all floors, there is none on the eighth floor. The baseboard where Room 873 is supposed to be is cut, as if there used to be a door there.

The most friendly spirit is Sam McAuley, a jolly Scottish man who was head bellman during the ’60s” and ’70s. He died in 1975. Guests have frequently reported having been helped by a Scottish bellhop dressed in an old plaid ’60s uniform, describing Sam exactly, before being informed that no such person works at the hotel. He is often seen on the ninth floor.

Status: You can book a room here. Remember to tip Sam if he helps you.

9. Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts

The Hawthorne Hotel

The Hawthorne Hotel at night

This historic hotel may actually be standing on cursed land. It was built on the site of an apple orchard owned by Bridget Bishop. Who, you ask? Oh, only one of the very first women to be hanged on Gallows Hill during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.

Its ghosts: Today, guests often smell apples even when there's none on the menu. Room 612 is one of the most haunted: Staff have seen who they believe to be Bridget Bishop inside and guests complain of the eerie feeling that someone is in there with them. In Room 325, you can hear the sound of a crying baby.

Status: You can book a room, attend their annual Halloween ball, or take a tour. Book Room 612 if you dare.

10. Chillingham Castle, Chillingham, England

Chillingham Castle

Full view of Chillingham Castle

If you're in England rather than Denmark, Chillingham Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in Britain. The castle’s long, bloody history dates back to the 12th century.

Its ghosts: An unknown child's bones were discovered in the castle’s dungeon in the 1920s, along with decayed pieces of blue cloth. The child was given a Christian burial. The dungeon also has letters crudely carved into the walls by its prisoners, like a "diary" counting down the days. Other reports include a woman begging for water, sinister figures in the courtyard at night, and a blue flash that comes from the wall in the dark. Though some guests think it's an electrical problem, there is no electrical wiring in the wall the flash comes from. Many guests have heard whispers in the chapel but it's impossible to figure out what they’re saying; they stop if you try to get closer to hear. The castle also has a genuine torture chamber.

Status: You can book a room, an apartment, or a ghost tour. Keep your ears peeled for the whispers.

11. The Hotel Chelsea, New York City

The Hotel Chelsea

An old black and white photo of The Hotel Chelsea from the past

If you like celebrities and pop culture, The Hotel Chelsea is famous not for all the celebrities that have stayed there (author Mark Twain and singer Bob Dylan among them) but for all the celebrities that have died. It’s also housed survivors of the Titanic, one of whom hung herself on the fifth floor. The place has seen a lot of blood and misfortune.

Its ghosts: Poet Dylan Thomas died in Room 206 in 1953 after a drinking binge that led to alcohol poisoning. Author Charles Jackson committed suicide by poison in 1968. Perhaps most famously, Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen booked Room 100 here in October 1978, where Spungen was found stabbed to death. Vicious said it was an accident and pleaded not guilty. He died of a heroin overdose before trial and Spungen’s murder remains unsolved.

Guests have heard music and sounds of a couple arguing in Room 100, even when the room was unoccupied. Recent reports include a woman's scream, a sink that keeps turning on and off, and bubbles rising from the drain. Spungen's body was found under the sink in the bathroom. Due to the reports, the hotel has demolished Room 100.

Status: The hotel finally reopened after an 11-year renovation so you can book a room.

12. The Shanley Hotel, Napanoch, New York

The Shanley Hotel

The Shanley Hotel looking dark and foreboding

Like the Hawthorne Hotel, this hotel is also said to be standing on cursed land. No one under 13 years old is allowed to stay overnight and all guests are required to sign a waiver. How’s that for haunted? This hotel’s stories also sound like your run-of-the-mill horror film but the numerous deaths that have taken place are real, and many were, tragically, children.

Its ghosts: Owners James and Beatrice Shanley lost three children here, all of whom died before their first birthday. In 1911, the 3-year-old daughter of the hotel's barber died when she tumbled down the hotel's well and drowned. Reports include rocking chairs rocking on their own, clocks suddenly chiming, and children giggling when no children are present in the hotel. There is evidence of paranormal activity in the form of photographs and EVPS (electronic voice phenomenons). People have heard their names called by unfamiliar voices. The hotel has been featured on several ghost-hunting shows like Ghost Hunters on channel A&E. It also has secret passages, making you wonder why.

Status: You can book a room, reserve a public ghost hunt, or a private investigation.

13. Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California

Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado facing the water

This sprawling beach resort looks lovely on the outside but is haunted by its past. In 1892, 24-year-old Kate Morgan checked into the hotel and shot herself, her body found on the hotel's staircase. All paranormal activity has been centered around Morgan’s room on the third floor.

Its ghosts: Both guests and staff have witnessed doors slamming on their own, televisions turning on and off by themselves, and products flying off shelves in the resort's gift store. Paranormal researchers have found evidence of ghostly activity in Morgan’s room. The hotel published a book on Morgan, expanding on the strange happenings. Morgan was a married woman who checked into the hotel under an alias and told employees she was waiting for a man. She spent five days waiting. When her lover didn't show up, she shot herself. During her stay, she was said to look sickly.

Status: You can book a room or a public or private ghost tour. Morgan’s room is (obviously) the most requested.

14. Saintlo Ottawa Jail, Ottawa, Canada

Saintlo Ottawa Jail

the hallway of Saintlo Ottawa Jail, showing the cells

If you’ve ever thought about what it would really be like to be in jail, you can get a taste (without committing any crimes) with Saintlo Ottawa Jail. A former prison built in 1862, it was converted into a (now haunted) hostel. The rooms are real cells, with stone walls and iron doors that are more than 150 years old. They also have a real isolation cell you can stay in, with the original rings used to handcuff prisoners to the ground hanging on the wall. Morbid stuff.

Its ghosts: Remains of 140 bodies have been found in the prison’s parking lot—the only piece of land dug up on the building’s grounds so far, which means there may be even more remains buried all around. In other words, you could be surrounded by dead people. Public executions would often take place on the prison grounds. The original gallows are still in the basement, free to see. The most famous one was of Patrick James Whelan, publicly hanged before 5,000 people for the death of a Canadian diplomat—though he pleaded not guilty. His body was buried on the grounds. Guests have woken up screaming, and heard sounds of humming and other disembodied noises.

Status: The hostel will be open to bookings spring of 2023 so keep it bookmarked. You can also book a free guided tour.

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