From disembodied voices to ghostly apparitions, we’ve heard many spooky details from hotel guests who have visited notoriously haunted hotels. While we haven’t had any paranormal run-ins at these spots ourselves, staff and guests have allegedly had eerie encounters that would certainly have us sleeping with one eye open. So if trick-or-treating or costume parties are a little too tame for your Halloween, consider booking a stay at one of the 13 most haunted hotels in the world. Just don’t fault the hotel if a spirit interrupts your slumber.
1. Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
A 1909 building, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park has been reporting paranormal activity since the 1970s and has been the subject of many paranormal investigations. Many believe owners F.O. Stanley and his wife Flora are the more prominent ghostly guests, often seen in the Billiards Room or making the Music Room’s piano play. In 1974, horror author Stephen King stayed in room 217 at the hotel and based his novel The Shining on the hotel. The hotel offers nightly ghost tours, an on-site psychic, and TVs that play the Jack Nicholson thriller on a continuous loop. They’ve even installed a miniature tree maze in the front of the property as a nod to the film. Guests can stay in one of several reportedly haunted guest rooms.
2. Bourbon Orleans Hotel, New Orleans
The grand, historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel originally opened in 1827 as a ballroom for glamorous events. By the late 1800s the hotel was acquired by the Sisters of the Holy Family to be used as a school, orphanage, medical ward, and convent; a yellow fever epidemic struck at this time and led to the death of many children. It’s said that the ghosts of children and nuns can be seen and heard throughout the hotel. Additionally, several reports of a ghost dancer in the famous Orleans Ballroom have been made. You can book a Ghosts & Spirits Walking Tour, which stops at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, during your visit to New Orleans.
3. Emily Morgan Hotel, San Antonio
Housed in a historic neo-Gothic building with a reputation for paranormal activity, the 177-room boutique Emily Morgan Hotel has a prime downtown location across from the Alamo. At one time a medical facility, the property housed a morgue, and psychiatric ward. Reports of unexplained noises, apparitions, and the feeling of being touched are pretty frequent. If you want to up your chances of a paranormal encounter, book a room on the seventh, ninth, eleventh, or twelfth floors.
4. Omni Parker House, Boston
Steeped in history, stuffed with ghost lore, and teeming with old-world grandeur, the surprisingly affordable Omni Parker House is the place to stay for a taste of Boston's literary and political past. The original hotel opened in 1855 and was run by founder Harvey Parker until his death in 1884. Many guests have reported seeing him in their guest rooms, where he’s asked about their stay. After a businessman died in room 303, there were multiple reports of laughter and the smell of whiskey. Stephen King's short story 1408, which was made into a movie with John Cusack, centers on a writer who experiences a haunted stay at a hotel; the story was based on the supernatural activity in room 303.
5. Langham Hotel London
One of the more notable historical hotels in London, the Langham Hotel has been around since 1865 -- when it opened as the city's first purpose-built luxury hotel. The hotel is a frequent place of lodging for celebrities and royals, and apparently, ghosts. Guests have reported seeing the apparition of a German prince, a German solider, and a doctor who murdered his wife and then killed himself on their honeymoon, among others. The spirit of Emperor Napoleon III, who lived at the Langham during his last days in exile, has also been said to occupy the basement. Room 333 is supposedly the most haunted of the guest rooms and is available for booking for any brave travelers.
6. The Southern Mansion, Cape May
Originally a country estate for Philadelphia industrialist George Allen and his family, the property was built in 1863. When the last of Allen’s relatives, Ester Mercur, passed away, her husband sold the property. It was later bought and restored to its former glory, utilizing many of the original architectural elements and heirlooms. It’s said that Ester, Allen’s niece, can often be seen throughout the property -- particularly in the kitchen. Staff will tell guests all the ghost stories associated with the hotel upon request.
7. Audubon Cottages, New Orleans
First built in the late 18th century, and named after naturalist and writer John James Audubon -- who lived in one of the cottages in the first half of the 19th century -- the Audubon Cottages has managed to stand the test of time with thorough renovations and continuous maintenance. Like many historic properties, it’s said to have a haunted history. Cottage Two and Cottage Four are supposedly the ones with frequent paranormal activity. Disembodied voices and the feeling of being touched are supposedly common occurrences. Cottage Four also is said to frequently host the spirit of a Confederate soldier who ensures the radio is always playing country music. He can also be seen in the courtyard.
8. The Marshall House, Savannah
Built in 1851, the charming 68-room Marshall House accommodated Union soldiers during the Civil War -- and some guests say their spirits still walk the hallways. The oldest hotel in Savannah, it also acted as a hospital three times – once for soldiers and twice for yellow fever epidemic victims. During renovations, workers found human remains under the floorboards from long ago surgeries when the ground was frozen and nothing could be buried. In addition to seeing ghosts throughout the property, guests report hearing children run down the halls, faucets turning on by themselves, and the rattling of doorknobs.
9. The Hay-Adams, Washington D.C.
Quite possibly the most famous hotel in the capital, The Hay-Adams has hosted many a politician, including the Obamas before inauguration. In 1884, best friends John Hay (Abraham Lincoln's private secretary and later a Secretary of State) and Henry Adams (the author, and descendant of John Quincy) built their homes on the plot of land where the hotel now sits. In 1927, nine years after Adams' death, the houses were razed and replaced by the hotel that stands today. The wife of Adams, Marian Hooper Adams, committed suicide on the site in 1885 and her spirit reportedly haunts the hotel. Guests and staff say they can hear a woman crying softly, disembodied voices, and doors opening and closing on their own.
10. Hotel Sorrento, Seattle
Built at the turn of the 20th century, the upscale Hotel Sorrento is an iconic Seattle boutique. It’s said that the ghost of Alice B. Toklas, a woman credited with the invention of pot brownies, can often be seen roaming the halls and particularly around room 408. Guests have also reported their drinks being moved at the Dunbar Room. To honor her, they have a Ms. Toklas cocktail on the menu that includes lucid absinthe, elderflower, chamomile, honey, and lemon juice -- so you can get both a trick and a treat at the Sorrento.
11. Hotel Provincial, New Orleans
The two-story Hotel Provincial -- with 94 rooms in the historic French Quarter -- is a retreat into old New Orleans. Like many New Orleans properties, it also claims to be a popular paranormal activity hub. Like other area hotels, it also acted as a medical facility for wounded confederate soldiers and is said to still possess their spirits. From distressed soldiers, operating doctors, to pools of blood, guests have reported it all. If actually staying at the property seems too spooky, it’s also a stop on many walking ghost tours of the city.
12. Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington D.C.
Built in 1930, the Shoreham Hotel has echoing ceilings, grand chandeliers, and an allegedly haunted suite. The Ghost Suite, a two-bedroom apartment –style suite with a full kitchen, is reportedly haunted; spirits of the original owner, his daughter, and the housekeeper supposedly linger here. Both the housekeeper, Juliette, and the daughter, Helen, died in the suite. Once the family was gone, reports of unexplained noises, lights being turned on, and the feeling of someone running by, were made. Travelers can book the suite for the chance of a paranormal encounter.
13. Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland
Built in 1625, Ballygally Castle is steeped in history, some of which is sinister. The original owner Lord James Shaw and his wife Lady Isabella lived at the castle until Lady Shaw either fell, jumped, or was pushed to her death from the top of the castle. She is said to be friendly, seen wandering around the castle or knocking on doors and then disappearing. The hotel has dedicated “The Ghost Room,” in one of the towers of the oldest part of the castle, in her honor.