15 of the Most Beautiful (But Totally Haunted) Hotels in the World
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.
The Stanley Hotel
Probably the best-known destination on this list, the Stanley Hotel served as Stephen King’s inspiration for his legendary novel-turned-film the Shining. Located in Estes Park, Colorado, the eerie Rocky Mountain resort has a notorious history of alleged paranormal activity. Room 217 (in which a 20th century house keeper supposedly haunts) and the fourth floor are two of the most ‘haunted’ parts of the hotel, with guests reporting auditory and visual hallucinations when stay at the property. King and his wife stayed in room 217 during their visit, and were so frightened by the emptiness of the spooky hotel that his real-life nightmares inspired many of the Shining’s most iconic scenes. (Check out a first-hand account of a night at the Stanley, here.)
This property is remote, minimalist, and drenched in history—in true Danish fashion. The castle—which was built in the 13th century and once served as a prison—boasts its own moat. Nowadays, the “slot” (which translates as castle in Danish) operates as a luxury hotel, known for its excellent Scandinavian cuisine, fairytale-like surroundings, and, oh yeah, the three ghosts that allegedly roam the hotel’s corridors. These infamous ghosts are purportedly the “grey lady,” the “white lady,” and James Hepburn, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, who was once a prisoner there. These friendly ghosts have never been known to cause any serious disturbances, so for those looking to get a taste of Denmark’s stunning landscapes and world-class cuisine; Dragsholm is the place for you.
Ruthin Castle Hotel
This 13th century castle makes an excellent choice for those looking to experience the natural beauty Wales has to offer—but be warned: this onetime fortress has a disturbing past. Visitors can testify that the castle hosts its own dungeons, as well as a drowning pool and whipping pit. Guests have reported insects behaving strangely, unexplained screams and cries, and sightings of the hotel’s most famous ghost—the Grey Lady. As frightening as all of this might sound, the historic castle is still worth a visit. Highlights include nightly medieval banquets, an upscale spa, and luxurious guestrooms.
This French Quarter establishment has everything a tourist in New Orleans could ask for; gorgeous 19th century Southern décor, a courtyard with a pool, and some seriously creepy history. While the hotel is made up of multiple structures, building 500 reportedly served as a hospital during the Civil War and is haunted by the ghosts of soldiers. Sightings of bloodied men in antiquated clothing have been reported, as well as flickering lights and unexplained moaning. There have also been claims of pools of blood that mysteriously appear, then disappear. In other words: stay at your own risk.
Parador de Cardona
The gorgeous Parador de Cardona is located on a hill in Catalonia—and is one of the best-known medieval fortresses of its day. Today, this ‘parador’—a luxury hotel housed in a historic building, often run by the state—operates as a luxury hotel and features a combination of Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The property is largely known for its rich history (it features an 11th century church) and its restaurant which serves up first-rate Catalan cuisine. However, the property wouldn’t be on this list if it didn’t have its share of creepy stories. Room 712 is supposedly haunted by a spirit that won’t leave, with reports of objects moving during the night and animals refusing to enter the room—instead opting to bark uncontrollably at the door.
The Hotel Del Coronado
This legendary Southern California resort is more than 127 years old and occupies 28 acres of oceanfront land. Made famous for its grand Victorian architecture and celebrity clientele, The “Del” is also known for reports that say it’s haunted by a gunshot victim named Kate Morgan who died in 1892 while staying at the property. The ghost story gained widespread attention thanks to the release of the 2002 book Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan, which investigates the theory. Since then, fans and investigators alike have been booking the room where Morgan stayed (now #3327) in hopes of catching a glimpse of some paranormal activity.
The Shelbourne Hotel
The iconic Dublin landmark has been brought into the public eye for many reasons over the years. Most recently? Actress Lily Collins stayed at the hotel and had a paranormal experience involving the (possible) ghost of a young girl. But the starlet isn’t the first person to report encounters with the spirit; apparently, the child is none other than Mary Masters—a well-known presence at the hotel who died of cholera in the 18th century. But that doesn’t keep tourists from flocking to its doors—the stunning property features a central location, outstanding service, and an opulent spa.
The Crescent Hotel
Commonly known as ‘America’s most haunted hotel,’ this looming Victorian property just looks scary from the outside—a far cry from the hotel’s interiors, which boasts a luxury spa and pool. The Crescent also happens to be almost 130 years old, and is registered on the list of ‘Historic Hotels of America.’ Some of this history can be seen through tours of the hotel’s basement—which once served as a morgue—and secret underground tunnels—but the property’s haunted past doesn’t stop here. A stonecutter fell to his death in room 218 and apparently never left. As many as a dozen other notable ghosts have been sighted by guests—so keep your cameras on, folks. You never know what might show up when scrolling back through your photos.
Hotel Bela Vista
At first glance, you would never guess this sunny, beachside resort is haunted—but think again. Room 108 was supposedly the lodging of a young girl (probably the daughter of the hotel’s original owner) who died there—her screams and cries are still reported by guests to this day. Other unknown wailings during the night have been documented, but unlike the other properties on this list, nothing seriously gruesome happened here, so we recommend going out of your way to visit this Portimão property, as the amenities far outweigh its potentially haunted hallways. Master interior designer Graça Viterbo completely redecorated the hotel, which features black-and-white tiled floors and stunning blue accents. The resort is also home to a L’Occitane spa, as well as multiple poolside cabanas and a celebrated restaurant.
Banff Springs Hotel
Typing in the hotel’s name on Google Images will probably have you booking a reservation, stat. The stunning Alberta resort looks like a mythical castle built high up in the mountains—which makes sense, given its location among the Rocky Mountains. The Fairmont owned property serves as a world-class destination for nature lovers, sports enthusiasts, and luxury jetsetters (it also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage sight). With that said, the property is notoriously known for being haunted. Legends include a family that was murdered in room 873 and a bride who died while getting married—both the family and the young woman still purportedly roam the areas where they passed.
Airth Castle Hotel
Like most historic fortresses of Britain, Airth Castle had seen a plethora of bloodshed in its day. What was once a medieval stronghold now operates as a hotel and spa (not to mention a premiere wedding destination), thanks to its gothic architecture and sprawling green gardens. Tales of a ghostly nanny who watches over visitors’ children have been reported—hey, at least you can save money on babysitting fees—as well as the unexplained noises of children laughing and crying.
The Equinox Resort
New England is home to many of the world’s most fabled ghost stories, so it should come as no surprise that Vermont has dozens of hotels and inns with haunted histories. One of these is The Equinox in Manchester, where guests have reported the feelings of an ominous presence when staying on the third and fourth floors. Also unsettling are multiple sightings of what’s believed to be the ghost of onetime guest Mary Todd Lincoln and objects have also been said to move—and even float—inexplicably.
Coombe Abbey Hotel
Whether the Coombe Abbey Hotel in Warwickshire is haunted or not has long been a topic of discussion in England—though past guests will likely assure you it is. Built as a monastery in the 12th century, the abbey turned hotel is purportedly home to numerous troubled spirits who roam the grounds—including the most notorious spirit, a murdered friar called Abbot Geoffrey—and a young gypsy girl who died during childbirth, though not before putting a curse on the owners of the house—which apparently worked, seeing as most of the family’s children died young.
The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa
Though it may hold a grisly history, the Brown remains one of Denver’s finest hotels. Featuring a colossal chandelier and an atrium style lobby, the property has been visited by many prominent guests (including the Beatles). The ‘palace’ is also happens to be the site of two unfortunate murders committed by Frank Henwood in 1911—and a quick Google search will reveal various paranormal reporting’s by guests and employees. Whether it’s truly haunted or not, the rich history and luxurious surroundings make this hotel worth a stay for anyone visiting the Colorado capital.
Ettington Park Hotel
If this hotel looks familiar, that’s because many of you have seen it before: the Gothic manor was used for exterior shots in the 1963 film, the Haunting. But the rumors of paranormal activity weren’t just spread by producers looking to gain publicity: various reports have been made of unknown guests roaming the halls dressed in antiquated clothing, as well as floating objects. Though its reputation as a haunted mansion is well-known in England, it hasn’t stopped visitors from coming back (the hotel also serves as a popular wedding venue.) We have a feeling the beautiful grounds and state of the art guestrooms have something to do with that.