FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS, ALBERTA - CANADA
Built in 1888 to encourage Western tourism and to sell train tickets, this chateau-style hotel sits pretty by the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park. But the Fairmont gets a tad more Gothic once you get inside—and we aren't talking about the architecture. Several ghosts have been reported as regulars, including a bride who supposedly fell down the stone staircase during her wedding. But there’s a less tragic spirit, too: Sam the bellman, who worked at the hotel until 1975 and claimed he’d come back to haunt the joint. His spirit supposedly pulls shifts helping people with their bags before disappearing.
HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL, LOS ANGELES - USA
You've never met ghosts as famous as the ones that haunt the Hollywood Roosevelt. The first Academy Awards were held at this oft-filmed hotel back in 1929, and movies stars tended to live there for long stretches of time. Today, there have been reports that Marilyn Monroe's spirit hangs out in one room's mirror, while Montgomery Clift's voice echoes throughout his old suite. Even if you're not a fan of bygone film legends, you can still get goosebumps from the hotel's high-drama lobby and views of the Hollywood sign.
THE OMNI GROVE PARK INN, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CARLINA - USA
This marvel of architecture was built on Sunset Mountain by Edwin Wiley Grove in 1913—a soda pop heir from Tennessee attempting to cure his chronic hiccups. One of the hotel's most famous guests was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who checked in while Zelda spent some time at a nearby sanatorium. You won't be running into any Fitzgeralds during your stay today, but you could catch a glimpse of another 1920s figure: The Pink Lady, a guest who met her end on the floor of the atrium after falling two floors from her room. The pastel mists you see—and chills you feel—will give her away.
Situated next to the scenic Clwydian Range in North Wales, Ruthin Castle has had many renowned tenants since its 1277 construction, including King Henry VII and his daughter Mary (aka Bloody Mary). The castle was also briefly inhabited by Lady Jane Grey, Henry VII's great-granddaughter and so-called “Nine Days' Queen” of England. Lady Jane was eventually executed for high treason in London in 1554, but her spirit is said to have wandered back to Ruthin Castle to wander the banquet hall and castle battlements. Even if you miss a run-in with the Lady's ghost, you can still explore the castle's objectively creepy dungeons, whipping pit, and drowning pool.
Often considered one of the most haunted sites in England, The Mermaid Inn has a history dating back to the 1100s, although the structure you see today was the result of a renovation in the 1600s. Among the spooky stories and ghost sightings are figures walking through bedroom walls, rocking chairs moving on their own, rooms turning cold, and the spirit of a former chambermaid appearing throughout the property. All part of the experience, we say.
Located in an 18th-century Arab fortress overlooking the Andalusian landscape, Parador de Jaén has a few spooky stories hiding behind its imposing walls. According to the hotel's website, a guest in Room 22 was rudely awakened one night by sounds of a women crying and someone knocking on the door. A team of paranormal investigators was called in to check the room out in the 1980s, and they concluded that the room was, in fact, haunted by the spirit of a young woman who had died of heartbreak in the fortress several centuries ago. The room has been quiet since the investigation, but that's not the only ghost story 'round these parts. The hotel is also said to be haunted by the spirit of "Terrible Lizard," the nickname of a prisoner who died of hunger while locked up in the fortress.
This castle is what you imagine of a 16th-century Irish homestead—red ivy snaking up the walls, deep copper tubs, a library stocked with first-edition novels, afternoon tea overlooking 1,000 wooded and lake-spotted acres. Indeed, the secluded country hotel makes you feel like you're the only person in Ireland—unless you run into a Leslie family member's ghost, of course. Luckily, all reported ghost sightings have been pleasant, like catching sight of Norman Leslie shuffling papers in the hotel's Red Room. Hey, with accommodations like these, we're more than willing to encounter a non-threatening ghost or two.
TAJ MAHAL PALACE, MUMBAI - INDIA
Taj Mahal Palace is a five-star hotel located in the heart of Mumbai, consistently voted one of the best hotels in India by our readers. Along with amazing views and interiors fit for a royal, one of the property's more macabre claims to fame is its aura of mystery. According to legend, the building's architect jumped to his death from the fifth floor after discovering the hotel was facing the wrong direction. His spirit now allegedly (and harmlessly) roams the halls, running into guests in the hallways and walking around the roof.
THE QUEEN MARY HOTEL, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA - USA
Aside from a brief stint as a war ship in World War II, the RMS Queen Mary served as a luxury ocean liner from 1936 to 1967. During that time, it was the site of at least one murder—a sailor being crushed to death by a door in the engine room—and drownings in the pool. The city of Long Beach purchased the ship in 1967 and turned it into a hotel, and it still serves that purpose today—although the reported ghosts of the deceased passengers get to stay for free. (For an extra dose of spine-tingling experiences, see if you can visit the ship's engine room, which is considered by many to be a hotbed of paranormal activity.)
JEKYLL ISLAND CLUB, GEORGIA - USA
A hunting club for wealthy northerners in 1888, Jekyll Island Club was considered one of the most exclusive resorts in the world by the beginning of the 20th century. Members included such bigwigs as William Vanderbilt and William Rockefeller, and Jekyll Island Club was the site of the first transcontinental phone call to Alexander Graham Bell in 1915. Casual, right? Unfortunately, the resort fell upon hard times during the Great Depression and WWII, and eventually became a hotel in the 1980s. For the past few decades, guests have reported encounters with some spirits as historic as the hotel itself. Railroad magnate Samuel Spencer has been spotted reading the Wall Street Journal, while others catch whiffs of J.P. Morgan's cigar smoke seeping out of the financier's former rooms.
CHATEAU DE MARCAY, LOIRE VALLEY - FRANCE
Located in France's extremely scenic Loire Valley, Chateau de Marcay is a 15th-century castle that was converted into a hotel in 1973. The turreted chateau looks like something from a fairy tale—but as well all know, fairy tales usually have a bad guy or two. As the urban myth goes, one of the ladies of the Chateau de Marcay was actually a werewolf, and a farmer shot her by mistake after she transformed one night. The lady decided to stick around, apparently, as guests and staff alike have reported encounters with a ghostly woman dressed in white.
LORD MILNER HOTEL, MATJIESFONTEIN - SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa might be most famous for its game reserves, but it has its fair share of charming—and haunted—hotels. One such place is Lord Milner Hotel, located on the edge of the remote Great Karoo in Matjiesfontein Village. The town served as command headquarters during the South African War, as well as site of subsequent (and controversial) war crimes hearings. No surprise, then, that the Lord Milner Hotel has some paranormal activity going on. According to the hotel, there are a couple of ghostly guests who never seemed to check out, including "Lucy," a negligee-wearing specter who makes noises behind closed doors from time to time.
THE SHELBOURNE, DUBLIN - IRELAND
Known as the Grand Dame of Dublin, the Shelbourne has hosted the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and drips with luxury: think sparkling chandeliers and afternoon tea services. With all that opulence, you probably won't even notice the ghosts. According to some tabloids (they never lie, right?), one hotel room in particular gets frequent reports of paranormal activity, like water faucets turning on by themselves and a seven-year-old girl appearing out of nowhere. Actress Lily Collins had an eerie experience herself when she stayed at the Shelbourne back in 2013, which she recounted on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
EL HOTEL MESON DE JOBIRO - MEXICO
Originally built as a private home in 1700, Hotel Meson de Jobito served brief tenures as a market and horse stable before opening as a public hotel in 1993. The original colonial architecture still remains—along with some original locals. Visitors have reported images of miners showing up to look for gold, as well as the sound of horses walking. Apparently, most of those sighting and sounds occur around 4 a.m., but you'll probably be too busy sleeping in your air-conditioned room to really notice.
THE HENDERSON CASTLE INN, KALAMAZOO. MICHIGAN - USA
Overlooking downtown Kalamazoo, the 1895-established Henderson Castle is as famous for its arsenal of ghost stories as its exquisite Queen Anne-style architecture. The 25-room house was the creation of Kalamazoo resident Frank Henderson, who spent the better part of a decade working with surveyors, engineers, and landscape architects to build his dream home. Sadly, he only got to live in the finished mansion for four years before passing away. That clearly wasn't enough time for old Frank—his ghost has reportedly been spotted in and around the property by several visitors. The Henderson Castle opened to the public in 2011, leaning into its history with ghost-themed cocktails at its Spirits Lounge and monthly murder mystery dinners.
LA POSADA DE SANTA FE RESORT, NEW MEXICO - USA
One of Santa Fe’s oldest and most elegant places to stay is also one of its most famously haunted. La Posada de Santa Fe Resort was originally a mansion built in 1882 by entrepreneur Abraham Staab for his wife, Julia, who loved the premises so much she may have never left. Today’s guests can stay quietly in one of the surrounding studios, or in the original main house. But for those who lodge in Julia’s former bedroom, now suite 100, be sure to greet her pleasantly like the staff do. To stay in her good graces, you may even want to compliment her gorgeous home.
THE LANGHAM, LONDON - UNITED KINGDOM
The spirits are so active at this 153-year-old hotel, they drove out several English national team cricket players back in 2014, who cited sudden heat and lights, and an unexplained presence during the night. Ghosts have long been associated with the tony hotel, says Visit Britain, and it's thought to house elite spirits such as former resident Emperor Louis Napoleon III and a German prince who jumped to his death from his upper-level window.
BOURBON ORLEANS HOTEL, NEW ORLEANS - USA
With a history dating back 300 years, New Orleans is a city with plenty of ghosts, many of them connected to hotels. The French Quarter’s elegant Bourbon Orleans is one of the most famous haunted spots, thanks to its multi-purpose past as a ballroom, theater, and, for many decades, a convent and orphanage. People say ghosts from different eras appear in the hallways or lobby, as well as one lonely dancer who spends some nights swaying under the ballroom’s crystal chandelier. This year, the Bourbon Orleans is really embracing its ghostly reputation with some seasonal perks celebrating the iconic 1984 film Ghostbusters. On Halloween night, the movie's iconic Ectomobile will be parked outside the hotel for some spooky photo ops, and the in-house bar will serve a signature “Slimer Cocktail”—a ghoulish take on an apple martini.
STANLEY HOTEL, ESTES PARK, COLORADO - USA
The Stanley Hotel's stately Georgian architecture and world-renowned whiskey bar have lured travelers to Estes Park since opening in 1909. But the hotel reached new levels of fame after inspiring Stephen King to create the fictional Overlook Hotel from The Shining. That eerie association aside, many other ghost sightings and mysterious piano music have been connected to the hotel. The Stanley Hotel leans into its reputation quite cleverly, offering nightly ghost tours and psychic consultations from the in-house Madame Vera.
CRESCENT HOTEL, EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS - USA
Since its construction in 1886, the Crescent Hotel has served several purposes: luxury resort, conservatory for young women, junior college. But the strangest mark on its history came in 1937 when it got a new owner, Norman G. Baker. Baker was a millionaire inventor who decided to pose as a doctor (despite having no medical training) and turn the hotel into a hospital that could "cure" cancer. He was eventually found out and run out of town, although reports say that his spirit found its way back to the site and found some otherworldly company, too. The now-operating Crescent Hotel is said to be haunted by at least eight ghosts, ranging from a five-year-old girl to a bearded man wearing Victorian clothing.
THE READ HOUSE, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE - USA
Originally opened in 1872, The Read House is one of the premier historic hotels in downtown Chattanooga. Aside from its recent $28 million renovation, the hotel is perhaps most famous for Room 311, the room where a woman named Annalisa Netherly was allegedly beheaded in the bathtub by a jealous lover. Several guests have reported paranormal activity in the room over the years, including unexplained noises, flickering lights, running water, and shadowy figures. The Read House decided to leave Room 311 unmodified during the hotel's renovation, complete with vintage claw foot tub and an AM radio that doesn't work. For guests who prefer scares over sleep, the hotel even offers a "Room 311 Experience" package: overnight accommodations, a decanter of "bathtub gin", cocktails at the bar, $100 dining credit, and breakfast service (should you make it until morning). The starting cost? $666.
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