Room service, wi-fi, pillow menu, on-site spa…when considering desired amenities at any given hotel, otherworldly guests most likely aren’t at the top of your list. But that’s exactly what you might get when checking in at any of the below luxury accommodations, offering hauntingly beautiful architecture, décor and rooms – both literally and figuratively. Because if these historic hotel walls could talk, they’d tell you that not all of their guests have officially checked out.
Hotel Chelsea, New York
Built between 1883 and 1884, this historic hotel has been a designated New York City landmark since 1966, and on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. And for good reason. The Queen Anne-style Hotel Chelsea with it’s signature cast-iron balconies has been a bohemian haven to artists, writers and musicians alike since the early 1900s. Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Stanley Kubrick, Andy Warhol, Sid Vicious and Dylan Thomas are just a few notable names who have graced the hotel’s halls – some of whom still do. Guests and employees of the hotel have frequently reported strange sounds and sightings attritubed to the ghosts of writer Dylan Thomas, who died in the hotel of pneumonia in 1953, and Sex Pistols bass guitarist Sid Vicious, accused of murdering girlfriend Nancy Spungen by stabbing her to death in 1978.
As of 2011 the Hotel Chelsea closed its doors to guests due to ownership changes and renovations, however is slated to reopen in 2017 as a hotel-residential mix including 120 deluxe guest rooms.
Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland
Built in the style of a French Chateau with soaring high ceilings, dormer windows, corner turrets and five foot thick walls, Ballygally Castle is home to centuries of history since its completion in 1625 – some of which claims sinister. Legend has it that original owner Lord James Shaw locked his wife, Lady Isobella Shaw, in one of the castle’s towers after giving birth to a baby girl instead of a male heir. The imprisoned Lady Shaw then fell, jumped or was pushed to her death trying to escape. Almost 400 years later her spirit is still reported to haunt the castle, roaming the halls and guest rooms in desperate search of the daughter she never met. The room where she was imprisoned has now been dedicated “The Ghost Room” by the hotel in her honor.
Hotel Birchianti, Italy
More than a few notable names have checked in…and seemingly never checked out, of this 15th century Florence hotel featuring original frescoes on the ceilings of the guest rooms. One such guest? Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who is rumored to appear as a glowing pink, transparent man in the Fresco Room where he once stayed. In addition to reported sightings of further apparitions including a young, giggling girl skipping down the halls, a maid wandering from room to room and an elderly woman knitting in a chair, guests have also experienced the feeling of being watched, icy breath sliding down their neck, and their bed compressing as if someone has just sat down.
Parador de Cardona, Spain
Located on a hill in Catalonia, this stunning Parador (a state-run luxury hotel housed in a historic building, typically found in Spain) was initially constructed in 886. Today, the Romanesque and Gothic-style fortress is known for its rich medieval history including a long resident line of powerful dukes, the adjacent, 11th-century Sant Vicenç de Cardona church, and it’s fair share of mysterious happenings…particularly in Room 712. Numerous paranormal reports of the room include apparition sightings, disembodied voices, and furniture moving across the floor when the door is locked and no one is inside. Cleaning staff will only go in accompanied by at least one other person and to make things more creepy – cats and dogs will not enter the room at all. Instead, they’ll bark uncontrollably at the door. Brave enough to spend a night in Room 712? It’s not typically open to the public, so be prepared to make a special request upon making your reservation.
1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, Arkansas
Located in the stunning Ozark mountain region of Arkansas, this enigmatic Victorian property is commonly known as “America’s most haunted hotel.” Built in 1886 and part of the Historic Hotels of America Association, The Crescent was originally built as a luxury hotel and spa before going bankrupt and reopening as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women in 1908. In the late 1930s the property transformed again – this time into a cancer treatment hospital…or so people thought. Hospital owner Dr. Norman Baker not only had zero medical training, he used the hospital as a front to conduct experiments on humans both alive and dead. Eventually he was sent to jail for fraud, but his sinister legacy seems to have never left.
Unexplained phenomena include apparition sightings of Dr. Baker himself, a cancer patient named Theodora and a nurse endlessly pushing a gurney, as well as a former college student who committed suicide and a stonemason who fell off the roof and died during the property’s initial construction – landing on the 2nd floor in what is presently the famed Room 218. The hotel now hosts regular ghost tours including midnight visits to the basement, former home to Dr. Baker’s morgue, and secret underground tunnels.
Langham Hotel, London
Built in 1865 in the style of a Florentine palace, London’s first purpose-built luxury hotel was (and is) a fave stay-over for celebrities, royals, and…ghosts. Notable names include Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, however it’s the guests who still linger that have left the biggest impression. These include the ghost of a German prince who jumped out of a fourth-floor window prior to the start of World War I, a doctor who murdered his wife before killing himself on their honeymoon, and the spirit of Emperor Napoleon III who lived at the Langham during his last days in exile – and allegedly still occupies the basement. Feeling brave? Check into Room 333, the site of the aforementioned honeymoon murder and the hotel’s principal hotspot for paranormal activity – especially during the month of October.
Toftaholm Herrgård, Sweden
Named a Leading Historic Hotel of Sweden, this lavish, 14-century manor enjoys a quiet setting on the eastern shore of Lake Vidöstern…except in Room 324. The former country home of a wealthy land baron, the 5-star Toftaholm Herrgård is said to be haunted by the ghost of a peasant boy named Mats who used to work in the manor’s stable. He and the baron’s daughter, Ebba, fell in love, only to be discovered by the baron who subsequently forced his daughter into an arranged marriage with someone else. On the morning of Ebba’s wedding in 1750, a devastated Mats took his own life by hanging himself from the rafters in Room 324. To this day, his restless spirit continues to linger in the room in the hopes of reuniting with Ebba. Strange sounds, unexplained movement of objects, doors and windows closing and opening during the night and more eerie encounters have been reported by guests of the manor.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Canada
This 764-room luxury hotel set in breathtaking Scottish Baronial architecture has been serving guests, and ghosts, in Canada’s Rocky Mountains since 1888. Home to the famed “ghost bride,” the Fairmont Banff Springs has a plaque displayed in her honor by the spiral marble staircase where the bride-who-would-have-been tragically tripped, and fell, to her death on her wedding day in the late 1920s. Sightings of the bride’s apparition have been reported in the hotel’s hallways as well as the ballroom, and a strange, cold breeze is often felt by guests walking down the staircase where she fell. The spirit of friendly bellman Sam Macaulay is often spotted on the ninth floor, and sounds of a crying ghost baby can be heard emanating from the now-sealed Room 873 – where a baby girl and her mother were murdered many years ago.