These Are the Scariest Hotel Horror Movies of All Time

You can check in, but can you check out?

Exterior of motel from 2007 film Vacancy by director Nimrod Antal
Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Photofest

The flickering sign of a rural motel at night is an all-too-familiar scene in many a horror movie. If it isn't run by a machete-wielding psychopath, it's haunted by posthumous twins or contains a singular death-inducing room.

"Movie fans are forever fascinated and creeped out by horror movie motels and hotels not only because the films themselves are unforgettable, but also because spending a night away from home is a very relatable experience for everyone," said Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango.

Related: 10 Real Haunted Houses From All Over the United States

One of the most famous examples of nightmarish lodging in film is, of course, the Overlook Hotel from "The Shining," where spirits of the dead and the very-much-alive Jack Nicholson terrorized a family during winter in the vacant inn. Another is the unforgettable Bates Motel from "Psycho."

Related: 13 Most Haunted Hotels in America You Can Actually Stay In

Hotels and motels are habitually portrayed in pop culture as houses of horror with their eerie, often-secretive histories and always-too-quiet nature. They are either empty or filled with strangers — both creepy — and seem to serve as breeding grounds for the supernatural (à la the Eagles' famous song, "Hotel California") and serial killers.

"From their striking exteriors to their ghoulish interiors, the freaky movie memories these destinations have created will forever be etched into our minds," Davis told Travel + Leisure.

Here are 10 of the most iconic and downright frightening movie hotels, motels, and hostels of all time, according to ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB.

1. "Psycho" (1960)

The Bates Motel of "Psycho" fame sits off an old, barely-used highway and is run by a dual-personality murderer. What's not to be afraid of? This classic's ratings, 96% on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer and 8.5/10 on IMDB, solidifies it as a forever favorite of the horror genre.

2. "The Shining" (1980)

Phantom twin girls, a spectral bartender, and a relapsed alcoholic-gone-mad are what give the Overlook Hotel its spooky reputation. That, plus its grandiose size and far-out location. The real hotel where it was filmed — The Stanley in Estes Park, Colorado — has given in to its "Shining" notoriety, even installing its very own hedge maze.

"The Shining" is one of the most popular movies of all time, earning an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.4/10 on IMDB.

3. "The Witches" (1990)

Based on the darkly funny graphic novel by Roald Dahl, "The Witches" features Hotel Excelsior, an enormous and objectively spooky cliffside edifice that goes by Headland Hotel in real life. It's located in Cornwall, England.

Although the 2020 remake starring Anne Hathaway wasn't as well received, the '90s original maintains a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.8/10 on IMDB.

4. "1408" (2007)

Nobody would dare stay in room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel — or perhaps any hotel — after seeing the strange phenomena in this 2007 psychological thriller. The movie, earning a 6.8/10 on IMDB and 79% on the Tomatometer, is based on a short story of the same name by Stephen King. King has said it was inspired by a paranormal investigation of San Diego's Hotel del Coronado.

5. "Private Parts" (1972)

The fictional King Edward Hotel on Skid Row, Los Angeles, is the setting of 1972's "Private Parts," in which a disturbed resident develops an obsession with the hotel keeper's niece. Inflatable sex dolls are involved, but don't let that (nor its lack of Rotten Tomatoes reviews) deter you from watching this 6.5/10 IMDB-rated film.

6. "The Night" (2020)

Earning 5.5/10 on IMDB and 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Night" highlights the spookiness of Los Angeles' Hotel Normandie. Take the remoteness out of the Overlook Hotel and you have this film adaptation of Hotel California, it seems. Like the Overlook, Hotel Normandie is aggressively haunted and gives the Iranian couple at the center of this film quite the fright. Hotel Normandie is a real — not necessarily haunted — hotel in Koreatown.

7. "Identity" (2003)

After watching "Identity," you will never pull over at a dusty motel in middle-of-nowhere Nevada on a road trip, no matter how bad a downpour you find yourself in. In this 2003 neo-noir slasher, earning a 7.3/10 on IMDB and 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, something is killing the guests of the Desert Valley Motel one by one.

8. "The Devil's Rejects" (2005)

Rob Zombie's iconic story follows members of the serial-killing Firefly family as they run from the law, eventually winding up at the Kahiki Palms Motel where they meet up with clown villain Captain Spaulding and together terrorize every innocent stranger they lay eyes on.

"The Devil's Rejects" is a classic. Despite its relatively low Tomatometer ranking (55%), it has an IMDB score of 6.7/10.

9. "Vacancy" (2007)

"Vacancy" brings to life everyone's fear of breaking down and being stranded at a motel with creepy staff and, of course, hidden cameras. What's worse? Being trapped in a room with those cameras rolling, broadcasting your terror to the world.

Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson's performance earned the film a 6.2/10 on IMDB and 55% on the Tomatometer.

10. "Hostel" (2005)

Rest assured the movie "Hostel" has kept quite a few from booking hostel accommodation in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. Despite being set in an idyllic village, this movie centers around torture horror, and American backpackers are the victims.

Be prepared for guts and gore when you sit down to this 5.9 IMDB/59% Rotten Tomato-rated horror.

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