There’s something inexplicably frightening about hotels. Maybe it’s the unfamiliar, yet all-knowing, staff. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of what’s going on in the room next door. Maybe it’s the long, dimly lit hallways that become deserted and eerily silent come nightfall. Case in point: the Hotel Cortez, which serves as the backdrop on the current season of American Horror Story. At first glance, the Cortez appears to be an opulent Los Angeles hotel bound for an imminent resurgence—but deeper analysis reveals that the art deco glamour is just a façade for what’s in fact a serial killers’ playground.
Knowing the show’s knack for pulling inspiration from real-life events, it should come as no surprise that the Cortez is based off the Hotel Cecil—which has a terrifying history of serial killers, unsolved murders, and paranormal activity. (The Cecil has since been re-branded as the Stay on Main). For all the paranormal enthusiasts out there—who prefer to be spooked in more luxurious surroundings—we’ve rounded up the 15 spookiest (and most stunning) hotels around the world.