You’ve just settled down for a good night’s sleep in a cozy old hotel when a child’s laughter penetrates the stillness. Could it be that you are now lying awake in a hotel where guests may have checked out, but never really left? There’s no better time to celebrate the world’s most haunted hotels than Halloween. If you’re looking for things that go bump in the night at prices that won’t make you scream, then these hotels, inns, B&Bs, castles, and even a cruise ship, may be right up your dark alley.
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Built in 1200, the Dragsholm Castle is not only one of the oldest castles in Denmark, it is also the home to many of the longest-staying guests. Though there isn’t an exact number of spirited figures who still roam the grounds—some believe the number to be in the hundreds—there are three who make a particular impression: the Grey Lady, the White Lady, and the Earl of Bothwell.
Visitors may encounter the Grey Lady in their rooms at night, because even in her death, this grateful spirit still keeps a close eye on the castle grounds to make sure things are in order. When the Grey Lady was alive, she was believed to be a worker who suffered from a horrible toothache, which was cured by someone in the castle. She has been repaying the kind deed ever since.
The White Lady’s tale is by far more tragic, and begins with the discovery, during a renovation in the early 20th century, of a young girl’s skeleton in a white dress hidden within a wall. Legend has it that these bones once belonged to the daughter of the castle’s former owner. She fell madly in love with a commonplace worker, and when her father learned of the affair he had her locked within a room in the castle, never to see the light of day again. Her young spirit has been seen roaming the halls at night, perchance searching for her lost love.
The Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn, a consort to Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned for murder in the Dragsholm Castle cellars, where he eventually went mad and died in 1578. Visitors can see the same pillar where the Earl was once chained, and if they’re lucky, they may even catch a glimpse of the Earl riding into the courtyard with a horse and carriage. Some visitors have even claimed to hear the sound of horses when there’s nothing there.
Today, Dragsholm Castle is a hotel, restaurant, and a museum. Rooms start around $146 per night, and include breakfast. The hotel also offers daily guided tours exploring the castle’s 800-year history.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast
You may have heard of Lizzie Borden from the playground rhyme, “Lizzie Borden took an axe/ And gave her mother 40 whacks/ When she saw what she had done/ She gave her father 41.” However, the mystery surrounding the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden is much more complicated than a simple child’s game.
For instance, Lizzie was never found guilty for the slaying of her father and stepmother, and to this day, the case remains unsolved. Come decide for yourself what actually happened on the morning of August 4, 1892, by staying in the house in Fall River, Massachusetts, where it all took place. Choose from six rooms, including the one where Abby Borden’s body was discovered. Retrace the gruesome events by starting your morning with a breakfast reminiscent of the ones the Bordens ate as their last meal.
You may even encounter the restless spirit of Lizzie herself. Some who have stayed here have heard giggling. Others claim to feel a chill in certain spots of the house. And, those who snap photos seem to always catch an orb or possibly the faint outline of a face.
Rooms are typically in the $250 to $350 range per night, with prices known to spike during high season. However, if you’d like to learn more about the infamous murders without spending the night, you can tour the property during daylight hours for $25.
Fairmont Springs Banff
The Fairmont Springs Banff, “Canada’s Castle in the Rockies,” has seen many prestigious guests since it first opened its doors more than 120 years ago. In fact, some liked the place so well that they never left.
This is the case with Sam the Bellman, who worked at the hotel for many years. Before his death, Sam joked that he would return to the hotel he held so dearly in the afterlife. Many guests will attest that Sam kept his word.
The first sighting was by two elderly ladies who couldn’t get the key to work in their room door. Feeling uneasy because of the late hour and darkened corridor, they called the front desk for assistance and were told to wait for the bellman. However, when the bellman arrived, the ladies were already safely in their room. When asked how they managed that, they stated that the gray-haired bellman had appeared moments after they called and opened the door for them. The young bellman was bewildered since no one matching that description worked at the hotel. Since that time, the elderly bellhop with a Scottish brogue has been assisting guests and keeping a watchful eye on his hotel.
Visitors may also encounter the spirit of a young bride. Close to the time of the hotel’s grand opening in the 1930s, a groom waited in the library at the top of a candlelit, winding, limestone staircase for his true love to ascend. As she made her way up the stairs, her hem of her dress brushed against one of the candle’s flames and caused her to jump back, which sent her tumbling to her death. Guests claim to occasionally see her, still dressed in her white lace gown, dancing her wedding waltz alone, without her love.
Rooms start at roughly $400 per night, but there are plenty of package deals available to keep your heart from racing.
The Stanley Hotel
Built in the early 1900s, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, has hosted many guests, including the master of horror, Stephen King. While staying in room 217, King was inspired to write The Shining, about a grand hotel in the Rocky Mountains that possesses its guests. Though most of King’s inspiration came from his own twisted imagination, the Stanley is home to a few spirits.
The most notable ghost is the original owner, F.O. Stanley, who has been spotted in the lobby and the billiard room. His wife, Flora, who once entertained guests with her skillful piano playing in the ballroom, still plays to this day. Hotel staff have heard music coming from that room, and have even seen the piano keys moving—though the music stops abruptly once they enter.
The greatest activity, however, is said to take place on the fourth floor, especially in room 418. When the room is empty, strange noises emanate from behind the doors. Guests often report hearing children’s laughter in the hallway at night. The staff has even seen an imprint on the bed, although no one had been sleeping there.
Rooms start at around $320 per night. If you really want to get your supernatural feet wet, book the historic Night Tour during your stay. For just $30 per person, explore the haunted history of this grand hotel under the cover of darkness.
Gosforth Hall Inn
Built in 1658 by Robert Copley, who was suspected of being a Roman Catholic at a time when that meant death, the Gosforth Hall Inn has long been a sanctuary for lost souls. The inn may not publicly advertise its uninvited guests, but the owners are happy to share their experiences if asked.
And there’s plenty to talk about. Some guests have seen curtains billow in a room with no wind, felt the playful presence of a child, and even met apparitions in their rooms at night.
Room 11 is not only the biggest room at the inn, but it’s also the most popular for otherworldly sightings. The room has what people believe to be a priest’s hole (a hiding place for priests during the Roman Catholic persecution). At night, guests have woken to see a man dressed as a monk or friar, sitting next to the hole. Another guest once encountered a little old lady wearing an off-white dress and hair pulled back into a bun floating above the floor by the window, who vanished the moment the guest spoke.
There’s also the tale that Copley built the upper stories from the timbers of ship wrecks found along the Irish coast. The story goes that the timbers groan in anguish for the men whose final moments were spent clinging to their sturdy wood before the sea claimed their lives. Visitors who listen carefully just might hear a few final pleas for help.
The Marshall House
Savannah has a reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S., so it’s only fitting its first hotel would be a premier gathering place for restless souls. Built in 1851, the Marshall House has accommodated yellow fever victims, and was once used as a Union clinic for wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
In the 1960s, the amputated bones of patients were unearthed while renovating the hotel, and hotel guests have been reporting stories of creepy encounters ever since. For instance, some guests wake to the feeling of someone holding their wrist, much in the same way nurses would take a pulse. Others have felt the presence of a little girl rumored to be searching for her father who died in one of the rooms.
Rooms start at $219 for weekday stays during high season. If you’d rather hear the stories than experience them first-hand, you can always take a haunted pub crawl for $30. You’ll stop at many of Savannah’s eerie establishments, including the Marshall House.
Villa di Corliano
Recognized as one of the most prestigious Renaissance villas in Tuscany, Villa di Corliano’s luxury and grandeur is more than enough reason to never leave—even after the body has given up the ghost. Built in the 15th century, the building’s exterior is decorated in graffiti typical of the Florentine Mannerist Art and dating back to the 1500s.
The villa has been home to and welcomed many prestigious guests throughout its time. In fact, it is one such person that is thought to remain on the grounds to this day.
By the light of a full moon, guests have encountered a noblewoman, known as the “White Ghost,” lurking in their rooms. Some local peasants even claimed once to see her in the drive of the park leading a six-horse coach, where she stopped at the Ragnaia, or “Cobweb Corner,” to stare longingly at the villa which they believed was once her home. Known also as a good-natured spirit, she is also responsible for moving tapestries and rearranging ornaments, and a slamming door or mysteriously opened window is considered her handiwork. Occasionally the underground passageways beneath the wine cellar ring with giggling or the sound of footsteps. There is also the account of one night when the hall was filled with the thunderous sound of the crystal chandelier crashing to the floor, but when the chandelier was found, it was right where it should be without one crystal out of place.
So, who is the “White Ghost?” Speculative fingers point to the direction of Maria Teresa Scolastica Ottavia della Seta Gaetani Bocca who was married at the villa in 1755, but there is very little to support that claim. For now, her identity remains as mysterious as her presence in the villa.
Rooms start at €60-$130 (about $58-$127 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates) per night, and include breakfast.
The Admiral Fell Inn
With a history dating back to the 1700s, the Admiral Fell Inn once served as a safe haven for sailors while their ships called at Baltimore. The historic hotel still maintains the same home-away-from-home appeal for all travelers today, whether they have a pulse or not.
One of the more notable supernatural occurrences happened during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, when the hotel was evacuated except for a few managers. During the night, merriment and dancing could be heard above the lobby, but the only breathing people in the hotel were on the ground floor. The next night, the noises became so loud that the floor actually vibrated.
Rooms start at around $130, but if you dare seek out these apparitions without spending the night, the hotel offers a ghost tour, which is free for hotel guests.
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