If terror is your middle name and your ideal stay includes reliving gruesome murders, watching the walls literally crawl, or hunting for restless, tortured souls, these eight hotels are guaranteed to make you sleep with the light on. Come along as we journey around the world in search of places that make even the bravest of mortals cower and shake.
Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook, England
The Ostrich Inn may appear to be nothing more than a quaint coaching inn from bygone days, but its history is more akin to a scene from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street than to a Charles Dickens’ novel. The previous owners, John Jarman and his wife, had a particular flair for murder, and more than 60 unlucky souls met their demise at their hands during the 17th century. The couple would wine and dine wealthy merchants before taking them to a bedroom that was rigged with a special trap door designed to drop the unsuspecting guests into a vat of boiling liquid. Though the pair were finally caught and hanged, it’s said that their victims still wander the property.
Karosta Prison, Liepaya, Latvia
Operating as a military prison for nearly 100 years, the Naval Port Prison offers daring guests a night behind bars. Originally built in 1900, the building served as a working military prison with a fully-functioning detention and torture center until 1997. Today, you can choose to either simply stay for the night, which includes a meal and a prison bunk, or spend an extreme night, which means you’ll take on the role of an actual prisoner and experience what it really means to be a criminal. The latter includes threats, warning gunfire, and the sounds of despair from other prisoners. Tours are also available for the less daring.
St. James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico
The St. James Hotel is living proof of the Wild West’s untamed spirit. Originally built in 1872, the hotel has housed many of the most notorious outlaws and characters from the Old West, including the Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Annie Oakley, to name a few. With such a raucous bunch of guests, it’s not surprising that at least 26 deaths have taken place in the saloon and hotel. Thomas James Wright was one of the many who met his sad demise here by being shot in the back over a poker dispute and bleeding to death in room 18. Rumor has it that Mr. Wright is at odds with the spirit world and may still be seen within these walls. Though the hotel has been renovated, the tin ceiling in the dining room still features 26 preserved bullet holes from the days when the fastest hand called all the shots.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Built in the early 1900s, the Stanley Hotel has welcomed many famous guests, including his royal highness of horror, Stephen King. It was in fact during a stay in room 217 that King found the inspiration for his book, The Shining, which tells of a grand hotel, much like the Stanley, that possesses its guests. Though King may have created his story, it’s no secret that the Stanley has its quirks. Guests have reported seeing the original owner, F.O. Stanley, in the lobby and billiards room presumably keeping tabs on his property. His wife, Flora, is also suspected of playing the piano just as she did when she was alive. Room 418 is known to have the greatest activity, and is not for the faint of heart.
Dalhousie Castle, Bonnyrigg, Scotland
Dalhousie Castle has a history that dates back to the 13th century, which includes visits by both Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria. The castle has even withstood an attack by Henry IV of England in the 15h century, but was besieged by Cromwell in the 17th century. You can still see the remnants of the castle’s medieval days by looking above the main door at the drawbridge raising mechanisms or finding the score marks in the stonework above the keep caused by prisoners being lowered into the bottle dungeon. Many claim to see a “Grey Lady” wandering the grounds, and believe her to be Lady Catherine who was locked within the tower by the lord’s jealous wife and eventually starved to death in the 1500s.
Marshall House, Savannah, Georgia
As the first hotel in one of the world’s most haunted cities, it should come as no surprise that the Marshall House is known to be quite spirited. Originally built in 1851 by Mary Marshall, the hotel has seen its fair share of tragedy, acting as a Civil War hospital and later housing yellow fever victims. As if that wasn’t gruesome enough, during renovations in the 1960’s, bones of amputated limbs were discovered hidden beneath the floorboards. Guests have reported a slew of strange occurrences, including hearing children’s laughter in empty hallways and waking to pressure on their wrist as though someone was taking their pulse.
Hang Nga Guesthouse, Da Lat, Vietnam
Though you may feel like you’ve wandered into a nightmare, filled with equal parts Swiss Family Robinson, Tim Burton’s imagination, and Alice in Wonderland, Hang Nga is more of an architectural feat than a demonic construction. Known as the “Crazy House,” the building resembles the shape of a massive and unruly treehouse, and embodies the feel of a carnival fun ride. In a blaze of peach and blackened concrete, Hang Nga twists, turns, and stretches awkwardly five-stories into the air. Named after the architect who designed the gothic fairy-tale structure, Hang Nga also features theme rooms, walkways similar to tunnels, outdoor balconies, and a sculpture garden.
Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
You may have heard the gruesome tale, or possibly know the playground rhyme, of Lizzie Borden bludgeoning her father and stepmother with an ax. But now you can relive the murders by staying in the house where it all took place. The Victorian home has been converted into a B&B, which gives you the chance to sleep in the same room where the body of Abby Borden was found or take a nap in the parlor just like Andrew Borden did before his untimely demise on August 4, 1892. You’ll even get to feast on a similar breakfast the victims ate the morning of their murders, including johnnycakes, bananas, and sugar cookies. Lizzie was never actually found guilty of the crimes, and the deaths remain unsolved to this day.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 5 Creepy Holiday Traditions Celebrated Around Europe
- I Spent the Night in a Haunted Hotel
- The World’s 7 Most Fattening and Festive Holiday Foods
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