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13 Most Haunted Hotels in the World

Cristina is a Florida native and Realtor by trade. She enjoys writing about travel, real estate, and several other interesting topics.

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Haunted Hotels Around the World

We can’t say no to a great ghost story, especially in the fall when images of Halloween dance in our heads. And there’s no better way to get in the Halloween spirit than to stay in one of the world’s most haunted hotels.

Whether it’s a thousand-year-old castle in Europe or an American spot that sparked a horror masterpiece, these accommodations all share a haunted story or two. From playful pushes to ghostly apparitions, guests at the 13 most haunted hotels in the world all agree on one thing—spending a night at these establishments provides the spooky thrill of a lifetime.

Front view of The Stanley Hotel

Front view of The Stanley Hotel

1. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, USA

The Stanley Hotel might not have landed on every list of haunted hotels ever conceived if it weren't for a fortuitous visit by best-selling author, Stephen King. In fact, the hotel might not even be standing. King spent a night at The Stanley in the 1970s. This night inspired his third novel and first best-seller, The Shining.

The Kings spent the night in Room 217, the Presidential Suite and the room with the most likely paranormal activity. Fifty years earlier in the 1920s, room 217 exploded due to a gas leak. The explosion destroyed the entire second floor above the main dining room and nearly killed chambermaid, Elizabeth Wilson. She continued working at the hotel until her death at 90.

The hotel is said to be haunted by Mr. Stanley, its builder and first owner; Flora Stanley, his wife; and Elizabeth Wilson. Paranormal activity includes items moving on their own, flickering lights, eerie laughter, and shadowy figures. Lots of paranormal investigators have spent time at the hotel, and it's been featured on television programs such as Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters.

2. The Langham, London, England

The Langham Hotel in London was built in 1865 and became famous for its "one-of-a-kind indulgences" such as electric lights, hydraulics lifts, and air conditioning, always at the forefront of the latest luxury inventions. It's also home to the most haunted hotel room in London, Room 333.

This London landmark has at least seven known ghosts. There's the German prince who is the most active ghost in Room 333. He reportedly jumped to his death from a 4th-floor window. Then there's the doctor who murdered his wife then killed himself on their honeymoon at the hotel. Emperor Napoleon III spent his final months at the hotel, though he prefers the basement these days. The hallways are also particularly active. A man with a gaping wound on his neck wanders the halls as does a butler. And there's a ghost who is extremely fond of shaking people in their sleep.

3. Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Opened in 1888, the Banff Springs Hotel is located within Banff National Park. The entire town of Banff is located within the national park. It overlooks the confluence of the Spray and Bow Rivers. The original wood building burned to the ground in 1926. It was reconstructed with a steel frame clad in Rundle limestone.

Two people are said to haunt the Fairmont Banff Springs—the bride and Sam the bellman. Though no one truly knows who the bride was in real life, legend holds that she was a bride who tripped on the hem of her wedding gown and died after falling down the stairs. The bride's ghost is most often seen in the grand ballroom in her wedding gown. Sam the bellman is an affable ghost who is sometimes mistaken for a live person. He's most often seen in the lobby.

Room 873 is the other haunted place in the hotel though it's been boarded up and no longer exists. The legend of Room 873 is that a man murdered his wife and daughter in that room before taking his own life. The hotel decided to board up the room after guests' tales of being terrorized at night by screaming and bloody handprints on the mirror.

Ballygally Castle in Northern Ireland

Ballygally Castle in Northern Ireland

4. Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland

Located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, Ballygally Castle is often referred to as "a living postcard". It is the only 17th-century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland though it's now run as a hotel. The castle, built in 1625, has a strong Scot's influence in its architectural details.

Many ghosts reportedly haunt Ballygally though two well-known ones spook guests more than any other. The castle is so haunted, it even has a "ghost room" in the corner turret. If you hope to spend the night in that room, however, you'll be disappointed. It's not open to guests though guests can book a tour of the room.

The main ghost at Ballygally is Lady Isabella Shaw, wife of James Shaw who built the castle. Legend says James had Lady Isabella locked in a room in the tower when she gave him an heir. He starved her and she either jumped to her death or was pushed. She wanders the hotel at night in search of the child who was taken from her. The other ghost is Madame Nixon who likes to play an old-fashioned ghostly game of Ding, Dong, Ditch. Except she's known to knock on doors then disappear.

5. Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, India

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was built in 1903 in then-Bombay and was India's first luxury hotel. Located beside the Gateway of India and known for its opulence, The Taj has attracted many prominent guests, including dignitaries, authors, and Hollywood celebrities.

The haunting of the Taj Mahal Hotel began shortly after its completion. Early on, engineer William Chambers took over as architect. After approving plans for the hotel, he left on a short trip to the UK while construction began. When he returned, however, he found his plans had not been followed. The front of the hotel faced in the wrong direction.

Unfortunately, construction was too far along to change anything. A perfectionist, this change bothered Chambers so much that he reportedly jumped to his death from the hotel's fifth floor. He is said to roam the halls making sure the hotel is run to his perfectionist standards.

6. Toftaholm Herrgård, Vittaryd, Sweden

An idyllic mansion in the Swedish countryside, Toftaholm Herrgård sits on the banks of Lake Vidöstern. Though the castle here was first built in the 14th century, it has faced fire and violent destruction since then. The manor house which sits here now was constructed in 1874.

The haunting of Toftaholm Herrgård likely comes from Mats, a servant boy who served at the manor in the 1700s. He was in love with the Count's daughter; however, the County arranged for her to marry another nobleman. On the day of her wedding, Mats disappeared. He was found a week later in one of the guest rooms where he had hanged himself. That room is now Room 324. Mats is a friendly ghost who usually walks behind women, placing a hand on their shoulders.

Reichenstein Castle

Reichenstein Castle

7. Reichenstein Castle, Trechtingshausen, Germany

This formidable and beautiful castle perched over the Rhine River was probably first built as a feudal castle in the 1100s. The first documented mention of the castle came in 1213. Since then and until the late 1800s, Reichenstein underwent several periods in which it was destroyed, left to decay, then rebuilt. In 1899, Baron Dr. Nikolaus Kirsch-Puricelli reconstructed the castle as a family home and lived in it until 1936 when it was opened to the public. The family still owns the castle and now runs it as a hotel, restaurant, and museum.

As one would expect from a castle this old, several spooky stories surround mill about. The resident ghost is likely Dietrich von Hohenfels, a robber baron who lived in the castle when Rudolf von Hapsburg conquered it in 1282. Legend holds that

8. Waitomo Caves Hotel, Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

First built in the early 1900s by an enterprising local guide and trekker, the Waitomo Caves Hotel quickly became a landmark and popular place to spend the night. Visitors came to see the famous glow worms at the Waitomo Caves. Eventually, the hotel became the Government Hostel. An addition was built on to it in the 1920s, greatly expanding the hotel's capacity.

Waitomo Caves Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in the world, the most haunted in New Zealand, and considered the fourth most haunted spot in that country. Guests report strange feelings as if something has passed through them, bouncing orbs, hearing eerie laughter and even blood dripping in bathtubs. A Maori princess haunts the hallways and a maid's trolley is sometimes heard rattling down the corridor. Both guests and staff report that ghosts in the hotel like to play pranks on them.

9. Dragsholm Castle, Hørve, Denmark

From New Zealand, the country to Zealand the Danish island, haunted hotels span the world. Dragsholm Castle, like so many other castles, has a long and violent history. The original castle was built in 1215 and modified in the middle ages from palace to fortress. For more than 100 years (1536–1664), it served as a prison. After this period, it was blown up, left in ruins, and eventually sold to a number of owners. In 1694, nobleman Frederik Christian Adeler finally rebuilt the castle into the baroque building we see today. The Bøttger family purchased the castle in the 1930s and still runs it today as a hotel, restaurant, and attraction.

Several ghosts are said to haunt the castle. Most notable is that of Lord Bothwell who was imprisoned at the castle until his death in 1578. Accounts indicate he was held in appalling conditions. The pillar to which he was chained for the last ten years of his life still stands at Dragsholm. Guests report seeing him ride through the courtyard with a full horse and carriage. Other ghosts include a gray lady and a white lady.

Parador de Jaén, formerly Castillo de Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina Castle)

Parador de Jaén, formerly Castillo de Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina Castle)

10. Castillo de Santa Catalina, Jaén, Spain

The castle on a parapet overlooking Jaén is one of the oldest buildings in this part of Andalucia. It was first built in the 8th century as a Moorish fortress. King Ferdinand III captured the city and the fortress in 1246 and began to build on to the castle. Additional construction occurred under later monarchs. Much of the original structure lies in ruins at one end of the complex with the 1960s era parador (hotel) at the other end. Some of the structures from the 13th century have also been used in various parts of the hotel and restaurant.

Legend says that Christopher Columbus first discussed his voyage to the New World at this castle. Though he doesn't haunt the hotel, other ghosts do. Guests report thuds and the sounds of a weeping woman in Room 22. This ghost is believed to be that of a young woman who died in this room. Another ghost is that of Terrible Lizard, a man who was imprisoned in the castle and died there. Though he's said to be a friendly ghost, some believe he can possess people who don't have their guards up.

11. Albergo Burchianti, Florence, Italy

The Hotel Burchianti sits in the heart of Florence, a graceful boutique hotel close to the city's most popular attractions. Built in the 1500s as a palace for the Castiglioni family, the hotel has retained its opulent feel with original frescoes on the ceilings and artwork from the Renaissance period. Maintaining this timeless air and elegance, naturally, comes with ghosts and hauntings, making Albergo Burchianti one of the most haunted hotels in the world.

Guests to the hotel report the normal haunting things—a feeling of being watched, sudden cold spots, unexplained noises. This hotel, however, has quite a history and the ghosts to go with it. Take, for instance, Benito Mussolini. He once stayed in this building and the room he reportedly slept in is now said to be haunted. There are also children who skip down the hallways, a maid who continues to clean rooms long after her death, and a woman who is often seen sitting in a chair knitting.

12. Nottingham Road Hotel, Nottingham Road, South Africa

In the mid-1800s, Nottingham Road was a tiny village on the outskirts of Fort Nottingham. A small hotel may have existed as early as 1854 where the present-day Nottingham Road Hotel stands today. After the railroad came to town in 1885, businesses followed. The Nottingham Road Hotel (called the Railway Hotel then) was completed in 1891 and soon became the social center of the small town.

Like many hotels this age, Notties Hotel has a ghost or two. The one most seen by guests and staff is a woman who goes about the hotel tidying up, straightening the bedding, and moving around flower arrangements. Two different legends account for the identity of this ghost. One says she's a chambermaid who jumped to her death. Another says she is Charlotte, a lady of the night.

13. Gran Hotel Bolivar, Lima, Peru

The Gran Hotel Bolivar was Lima's first modern, large hotel. Located in Plaza San Martin, it was built in 1924 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Peru's independence (though that was in 1921). The hotel attracted Hollywood celebrities, dignitaries, and the wealthy in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of these guests discovered Peru's favorite cocktail, the Pisco Sour, and took it back to their countries with them.

With age, as we know, comes many ghost stories. The Gran Hotel Bolivar fell into decline in the 1970s and remains somewhat in decline to this day, a victim of poor management, a runaway owner, and financial mismanagement. The 5th and 6th floors have been closed for decades. Staff says it's because of funding issues but others believe it's due to excessive paranormal activity.

Other ghost stories include the relatively normal ghost of a woman who jumped to her death from one of the hotel's windows. There's also the employee who died but still goes to work at the hotel every day, as a ghost, as well as another woman who haunts the hallways.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Cristina Vanthul

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