There are hotels, and there are hotels—the latter being something quite a bit more than just a room with a bed you can crash in while you’re traveling. If those are the sorts of hotels you look for when planning your trips, and your interest skews towards the strange and mysterious, good news: There are tons of spooky hotels around the world you can stay in—hotels that will challenge your very definition of the word “hotel.”
They’re not all haunted, by the way. Plenty of them (allegedly) are, of course, but many of them are spooky both because of their general ambiance and design and because they’re supposedly home to a variety of ghoulies, ghosties, and long-legged beasties. But a place doesn’t have to have a reputation for being haunted to still be plenty spooky. Just, y’know… bear that in mind.
For the morbidly-minded or lovers of all things mysterious, these nine picks around the world might offer something more interesting than just a simple overnight stay.
The Mysterious Inn: Kyoto, Japan
Japan is well-known for its penchant for themed experiences, from pop-up installations to restaurants to hotels. In 2019, a unique new accommodation arrived on the hotel scene in the city of Kyoto: The Mysterious Inn, a guest house boasting 11 elaborately-themed rooms, each with its own unusual, interactive elements.
For those who like their spookiness dialed up to the max, there is, of course, a Room of Horrors on offer. Don’t be deceived by its unassuming appearance; although at first, it might look like a cute and comfortable little space meant to house up to two people, that all changes when you start turning the dial on the wall. Once you move the dial off of the zero setting, you see, things start… happening. The lights begin to flicker. Strange noises sound. Basically, you’ll be putting yourself directly into a J-horror film—and nobody does ghost stories like J-horror does ghost stories. The higher you turn the dial, the more intense the experience becomes, with four being the setting for maximum scares.
Looking for something a little tamer? Try the Turn Room, which allows you to have a conversation with a mysterious unseen being via a strange telephone on the wall. Or maybe you’re looking for something more like the Landscape Room, which lets you experience more than 20 different views and weather conditions (yes, really), all in the same space.
Rooms at the Mysterious Inn can be booked for 7,500 yen or about $70 per night.
The Witchery: Edinburgh, Scotland
If gothic glamour with a ton of history behind it is your jam—and you’ve got an enviable budget—the Witchery might be precisely what you’re looking for. Located in Edinburgh’s Old Town in a building dating back to the 16th century, this boutique hotel and restaurant feature nine unbelievably luxurious suites that are all described with phrases like “theatrically decorated” and “rich and gothic.” Heck, one of them even has a gloriously extravagant bathroom hidden behind a secret bookshelf, according to Condé Nast Traveler.
For the curious, the Witchery’s name does have something to do with witches: It’s located just steps from Castlehill, where the victims of early modern Europe’s vicious witch hunts were burned at the stake. Indeed, more people suffered this fate at Castlehill than anywhere else in Scotland. When James Thompson first opened the Witchery in 1979, he named it in honor of the accused—and yes, many do believe it to be haunted by them.
The Witchery’s rooms, however, are not cheap; they start at around £395 per night (about $485) and can go up to a whopping £695 (about $854) per night. Unless you have a literal fortune, best save this one for a special occasion. And hey, if you don’t want to spend the night, the restaurant is top-notch, as well as surprisingly affordable. The two-course lunch/theatre supper, which is available from noon to 6 pm and from 10:30 pm until 11:30 pm seven days a week, is a steal at £25 for two courses.
The Black Monarch Hotel: Victor, Colorado
In the 1890s, Victor, Colorado was a booming mine town with rich veins of gold bringing prospectors in droves. It survived much, including a fire in 1899 that destroyed much of what had been built thus far. At its height, its population was 18,000. But after the mining ran dry, the population dwindled; these days, it hovers at around 400. But in recent years, the Black Monarch Hotel, previously Victor’s flagship brothel, saloon, and casino during its gold rush days, has been brought back to life—or, perhaps more accurately, reanimated: Its current owner, Adam Zimmerli, not only themed the newly-reopened space after some of the spookiest people in history, but he’s also fairly sure the place is haunted.
Two rooms bear the names of notorious serial killers: H. H. Holmes, who built a literal murder castle in Chicago at the time of the 1893 World’s Fair and used it to kill anywhere between nine and 27 people; and Elizabeth Bathory, the 16th-century Hungarian countess who is sometimes likened to a real-life vampire. Morbid? Yes. In questionable taste? Maybe. Weirdly fascinating? Absolutely.
(For what it’s worth, the other two rooms are less murder-y, but still pretty spooky: One is themed after Nikola Tesla, who local lore states originally wired the building for electricity, while the other takes its cues from the folkloric witch, Black Annis.)
The hotel hasn’t been open that long—just since 2019—but several visitors have already reported having the same creepy experience in the middle of the night: According to ABC affiliate the Denver Channel, they all reported, independently of each other, hearing people “laughing and fighting” downstairs—just as they would have during the building’s days as a saloon. The only problem? The visitors were alone in the hotel at the time.
Rooms at the Black Monarch run about $100 per night, although prices may change from time to time.
SleepIn FÆNGSLET: Horsens, Denmark
In one of the odder accommodation trends to sweep the travel world, a variety of hotels and hostels have been opening up around the world in recent years in some surprising locations: Former jails.
SleepIn FÆNGSLET—literally, SleepIn PRISON—in the Danish city of Horsens is one such hostel. After more than 150 years in operation, the Horsens State Prison closed in 2006; then, in 2012, it reopened in its current form. (It underwent renovations between the jail’s closure and the hostel’s opening, of course, but the building still retains much of its original air—the graffiti on the walls is authentic, for instance.) The hostel’s 22 rooms, which sleep between one and four people apiece and hold a total of 55 beds, are all located in the prison’s old hospital ward. There’s even a “bridal suite” of a sort.
FÆNGSLET is more than just a place to sleep, though. Also located within the former penitentiary is an award-winning prison museum that grapples with both how this particular facility was run and questions of law and order more broadly.
Château de Fougeret: Queaux, France
Château de Fougeret isn’t a hotel, exactly, although a visit to it does often involve an overnight stay. It’s more of an immersive experience of the spookiest sort—and all within the walls of a 14th-century castle in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France. As the website for the place puts it, “Our nights are special and do not fit into the ordinary framework of guest rooms”—and, delightfully: “Here, time does not count. It froze centuries ago.”
Purchased in 2009 by François-Joseph and Véronique Geffroy and renovated and restored, the main building features three towers and a chapel, with two additional towers nearby. The castle also features murals, frescoes, vaulted ceilings, tons of Gothic architecture and detailing, and more. It was registered as a historic monument in 2010, and, well… it’s not hard to see why.
Overnight stays at the centuries-old, probably haunted château begin at 6 pm, with your welcome and initial exploration of the castle. At 7:30 pm, there’s a meal, including an aperitif, a starter, a main, dessert, and coffee or tea. At 9:30 pm, a psychic medium arrives; then, at 10 pm, you start your workshops. These workshops could be in anything from mediumship to numerology to simply “wandering in the castle, at night, with a medium to feel the energies of the place or your bioresonance”; three take place each night. Breakfast is at 9:30 am the next morning before you depart at 11 am. Sounds wild, no?
The full package runs €110 (about $125); however, you can also pare things down just to a “simple overnight stay with breakfast” for €70 (about $78) or a “night and breakfast with dinner, without medium or workshops” for €95 (roughly $106).
The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast: Fall River, Massachusetts
You know how the rhyme goes, right?
“Lizzie Borden took an ax,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”
Well, the house in Fall River, Massachusetts in which Lizzie Borden allegedly doled out all those whacks has operated as a functional bed and breakfast since 1996.
For those who aren’t familiar with the history: On Aug. 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby (née Durfee Gray), met their ends at the sharp end of an ax. Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s 32-year-old daughter, and Abby’s stepdaughter was accused and tried of the crime. She was acquitted but remained stigmatized for the rest of her life.
Whether or not Lizzie was guilty of the crime—and, crucially, what her motivations may have been if she was—has remained one of the great mysteries of the 19th century. Also, the house in which the murders occurred is widely believed to be haunted (and no wonder)—so, naturally, it’s a tourist attraction now.
Initially run by Martha McGinn and owned and operated by Leeann Wilber and Donald Woods since 2004, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum offers daily tours, as well as overnight stays in its six suites and bedrooms. One of those bedrooms is the room in which Abby was found the morning of the murder, so, uh, don’t stay in that room if you’re squeamish. You don’t have to spend a night in the house to enjoy a tour, but, well… let’s just say that spending the night is recommended if you’re serious about seeing the place.
Arte Luise Kunsthotel: Berlin, Germany
Not all of Arte Luise Kunsthotel is spooky or mysterious; the whole place is more akin to a giant art installation—or a museum, with each room being its own individual art installation. Located inside a neoclassical building that dates back to 1829—which, by the way, was also formerly the Mowe Art Club—the hotel boasts 52 rooms, each designed by a different artist and with its own, unique theme.
The Spy Room is, hands down, the most mysterious-sounding of the rooms; according to its description, the door to it is hidden behind a bullet hole-riddled mirror. Once you get inside, you’ll find plenty to occupy if you look hard enough—for example, a set of binoculars that allow you to keep an eye on the outside world, and a spy hole hidden behind a painting that gives you a peek at a secret scene. But there’s also the Dangerous Books Room, which, yes, comes complete with a collection of books selected by the artist you can read while you’re there; the Cabaret Room, which takes you back to Berlin in the 1920s; and more.
Rooms average around €75 per night (about $85) but can be more or less depending on the type of room you book.
Hunter Prince Castle and Dracula Hotel: Turda, Romania
If you’re into vampires—or at least vampires with noble titles from a particular area of Romania, rather than vampires that sparkle in the sunlight—you might think about paying the Hunter Prince Castle and Dracula Hotel a visit.
A boutique hotel that “[blends] modern facilities with medieval-style architecture and objects,” as Booking.com puts it, Hunter Prince Castle comes decked out with all the spiky, iron beds and opulent furnishings you could want. Other details found throughout this spectacularly medieval accommodation include full suits of armor, stonework and, according to Lonely Planet, “the fanged face of Vlad Țepeș, beaming down from a stone wall”—the Vlad in question, of course, being Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for Dracula himself.
There’s plenty to do in and around the hotel, as well, including the Salida Turda—a salt mine 120 meters beneath the Earth’s surface, which also hosts a theme park. (Yes, really.) Or, visit the ruins of the Roman fort Potaissa, or one of the nearby monasteries.
Rooms at Hunter Prince Castle start at around €59 and go up from there. Choose from a twin room up through a “business apartment.”
The RMS Queen Mary: Long Beach, California
Docked off the coast of Long Beach, California is the RMS Queen Mary—a retired British ocean liner that spent about 30 years crossing back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean in a variety of capacities. It’s now a floating hotel that enables you to experience the lavishness of a particular era in transport history—along with a few ghosts.
The Queen Mary, you see, has… seen some stuff. Originally the “the jewel of the Cunard-White Star Cruise Line,” per Atlas Obscura, it was quickly repurposed to transport Allied troops during the Second World War, traveling in and out of active war zones. During this time, it was involved in a collision with one of its escort ships, the HMS Curacoa; the Queen Mary sliced straight through the Curacoa, causing it to sink—and killing a considerable number of its crew.
Perhaps because of its use in the war, and possibly because of this particular collision, the Queen Mary has long been rumored to be haunted. Following its conversion into a hotel, one room, in particular, was believed to be so haunted that for many years, no guests were permitted to stay in it. In 2018, though, the hotel opened that room, stateroom B340, back up for the first time in 30 years—so if you’re looking for a thrill, you can book yourself a stay in it. You might experience anything from strange knocking sounds in the middle of the night or the sink in the bathroom turning on and off on its own….or you might hear the whispers of disembodied voices or catch a glimpse of a shadowy figure hovering over you as you try to sleep.
Rooms start at about $100 and scale up from there; stateroom B340, meanwhile, is a whopping $514 per night. Not in the mood to spend the night? You can always stop by for a tour instead—or, around the Halloween, spook yourself out in one of the many haunted mazes that take over the ship for the duration of the season.