There are historic hotels all over the world, but only a handful can really give visitors the chills.
At unique properties throughout the United States and Europe, legends of ghosts and stories of hauntings make an overnight stay a trip to the dark side. Take your groups to one or more of these five historic venues for a fun, hair-raising experience.
The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, Colorado
Located approximately an hour’s drive from Denver, the Stanley Hotel is a gorgeous 140-room hotel that — with the help of a few renovations — has been part of the Estes Valley since 1909. The venue is the brainchild of Freelan Oscar Stanley, an inventor from the East Coast who decided to build the hotel after recovering from tuberculosis in the valley in 1903. It provided an element of sophistication to an area known for hunter and homesteader structures. When author Stephen King stayed there the 1970s, it inspired one of his bestselling horror novels, “The Shining.”
Today, The Stanley is a must-visit hotel where guests are met with beautifully furnished rooms, spa services, an underground theater, outdoor adventure packages, a wine bar and four restaurants, ranging from a fried chicken and beer eatery to an ala carte fine dining establishment.
Mixed in with these customary amenities is the chance to explore the hotel’s rather chilling qualities. A one-hour Spirited Night Tour leads visitors through the hotel’s dark edges, while a storyteller recounts the details of its spirited past. For a more personal experience, guests can request to stay in rooms, including the Stephen King suite, known for their high paranormal activity.
1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Built as a year-round resort in 1886, the 72-room Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, got its start from the “healing” springs found in and around the area. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Isaac Taylor and cost $294,000. In 1902, the hotel was leased to Frisco Railroad for a few years and later became Crescent College, a higher education institution for women, until 1934. Norman Baker purchased the building three years later and turned it into the Baker Cancer Clinic, making stacks of money before being jailed for promoting a fraudulent cure.
Fast forward to today — skipping past multiple renovations and ownership changes — the hotel serves as a relaxing oasis, where guests can learn about its history as well as enjoy spa services, a pool and hot tub, nearby parks and trails, hatchet throwing, lawn games, live music, and multiple dining and drink establishments during their stay.
Given its storied past, the hotel has had numerous reports of ghost sightings and other paranormal activity. Guests interested in experiencing the haunt for themselves can stay in what’s called Michael’s Room, home to the ghost of an Irish stonemason who fell to his death during construction, or sign up for a guided ghost tour that explores the dark nooks and crannies of the hotel.
The Marshall House
Opened as a hotel during the railroad boom in 1851, Savannah’s Marshall House has served many purposes over the years. It was used as a hospital during both the yellow fever epidemic in the mid-1800s and the final months of the Civil War. Later it was home to author Joel Chandler Harris, who was best known for his Uncle Remus stories. The Marshall House closed in 1957, though shopkeepers utilized the first floor until around 1998. Extensive restoration efforts brought the hotel back to life in 1999, and today, it is the oldest hotel in Savannah.
The Marshall House offers 65 guest rooms and three suites, all of which are filled with historic details. During their stays, visitors can peruse a collection of documents detailing the city’s experience during the Civil War on the third floor, enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s 45 Bistro restaurant and savor a glass of wine in the library in the afternoons. Plus, Savannah’s historic district is just waiting to be explored.
As for the hotel’s spooky side, visitors can choose from one of the many local ghost tours offered, where they’ll hear stories about the haunted hotel as well as other spirit-filled locations in the city. Plus, a stay at the hotel leaves the door wide open for personal experiences. Previous guests have reported seeing ghosts in foyers and hallways, as well as faucets turning on by themselves and much more.
Originally built in the 12th century as a monastery, Chillingham in Northumberland, England, became a fully fortified castle in 1344 and played a large role in many battles and feuds. It has been part of one bloodline since 1246, tracing back to the Earls Grey. Though centuries old, the castle’s walls and architecture have not changed. Today, in addition to staying in a beautifully furnished room, guests can explore the castle’s grounds and artifact-rich spaces as well as enjoy food and beverages at its in-house tearoom.
Known as Britain’s most haunted historic castle, Chillingham offers a few unforgettable experiences. Guests can sign up to take part in a guided two-hour ghost tour or a four-hour ghost hunt. While the tour leads guests through the most haunted parts of the castle, the hunt allows them to roll up their sleeves and take part in a ghostly investigation. Workshops are also available for those who want to learn how to use ghost-hunting equipment prior to going on a hunt.
Constructed in the early 20th century, Karosta Prison was used by both the Soviet and Latvian navies as a short-term disciplinary facility for sailors and noncommissioned officers. Now, it’s a unique tourist attraction and overnight accommodation. But the experience is different from a traditional hotel stay. When guests arrive, they sign an agreement and “step into the shoes” of a prisoner. In addition to being ordered around by guards, they sleep in cells and can even be served a prison meal.
In case the prisoner experience doesn’t sound like enough of an adrenaline rush, the prison is said to be haunted by some of its former inmates. In fact, it was called one of the most haunted places in the world by Ghost Hunters International. During their stay, guests explore the prison by candlelight. Strange footsteps, shadows, whispers, creaking cell doors and more have all been reported.
While the overnight stay is quite popular, the venue also offers several other activities that are a little less intense. Guests can enjoy an interactive show called Behind Bars, take part in an escape room, learn about the history of the prison, take guided bicycle tours around the grounds and walk the approximately six-mile Freedom Trail. Karosta has a buffet that offers coffee, pie and other hot foods.