This year, Halloween is shaping up to be a little bit different. The global pandemic means that trick-or-treating is largely out and big parties are also a no-no. But if you are craving a Halloween experience to remember, Airbnb could have the answer.
The accommodation booking platform has revealed its spookiest stays where guests can check in for a spine-chilling stay. From a Gothic castle in Italy to a fantastical earth house in the United States, here are seven of Airbnb's most haunted listings.
1. The Madness Chamber, York, England
For a spooky stay in the heart of York's Old Town, overlooking the historic York Minster and its renowned bells, the Madness Chamber is over 600 years old. Step inside and you'll feel as if you've gone back in time thanks to its exposed wooden beams, stuffed animal head decor, a wooden four-poster bed and wildly uneven floors. The surrounding area is a pedestrian-only zone which adds to the atmospheric silence, so step out into the small yard to soak it all in. This is the perfect spot to scare yourself silly. Stays from £127 ($166).
2. Henry Derby House, Salem, United States
The hosts of this three-bedroom property in Salem say that they can't guarantee a haunted house, but the building is a popular stop on several local ghost tours. Recently converted from a bed and breakfast, Henry Derby House can now be exclusively rented. It is within walking distance to all of Salem's attractions, and where better to spend Halloween than in Massachusetts' most notoriously haunted city? Spookily, guests have access to the whole house except for the basement – there's no mention of who or what lives down there. Stays from $495 per night.
3. Earth House, Fairfield, United States
If Halloween is not complete without a costume, then this Earth House is the place for you this October. Perhaps one of the most unique Airbnbs in the world, this Hobbit-style house sleeps two people comfortably (and four at a push), and guests are encouraged to bring their own cosplay. The fantastical stay comes with a supply of otherworldy-themed books and movies, and an atmospheric outdoor fire pit and moon-reflecting pond. A lone scarecrow in the grounds keeps a watchful eye on proceedings here. If you want to indulge even further, you can also book a bearded wizard's staff-carving workshop. Stays from $257 per night.
4. Lilburn Mansion, Maryland, United States
Ghost sightings at this 160-year old residence date back to the 1920s when the original house was destroyed in a fire. The mansion was completely rebuilt, but not as an exact replica which supposedly upset its unseen presences. Since then, there have been reports of people hearing the unexplained sounds of a child crying, swinging chandeliers and a lingering smell of cigar smoke in the library when no one has been smoking. In the tower area, the sound of heavy footsteps and windows that open independently have also been reported. Set in a woodland area within walking distance of old Ellicott City, the house sleeps up to 12 guests and has open fireplaces, period decor, a ballroom and an outdoor swimming pool. Stays from $500 per night.
5. Casa Las Azucenas, Oaxaca, Mexico
Nestled in Tlacolula de Matamoros, about 30 minutes from Oaxaca, this authentic Spanish hacienda-style house is decorated with local art and terracotta colours. There are two bedrooms available for rent, and rates start at 420 pesos ($20). It's in the same town as Mercado de Tlacolula, a Sunday market that's been running, in one form or another, since the Mesoamerican period. If it's history you seek, the house manager can take you on a tour of the local area, visiting rural attractions and explaining more about indigenous Zapotec roots. For spine-tingling celebrations, a stay in November when the village celebrates the Day of the Dead will be an experience to remember.
6. Benton Park suite, Missouri, United States
"The haunted apartment did not disappoint. On the last night, her incense disappeared off of the nightstand and reappeared on top of the coffee maker the next morning," details the first entry in the guestbook of this Airbnb apartment in Benton Park. Formerly the maid's quarters in a three-storey family home, this two-room studio has its own entryway, kitchen and private bathroom with period decor, antique books and old paintings setting the scene. Interestingly, the house was constructed by the same mason who built the nearby Lemp Brewery – often listed among the most haunted places in America. There's a patio in the back garden where hundred-year-old tree roots have pushed through the stonework, and the fact that the entire area is built on what was the city's cemetery until 1865, ups the odds that unexpected visitors lurk in the grounds. Stays from $67 per night.
7. Castello Dal Pozzo, Piedmont, Italy
This neo-gothic revival castle overlooking Lake Maggiore in northwest Italy sleeps up to 16 guests, plus one uninvited visitor.
The building dates back to the 10th century and comes with grandiose castle grounds spanning 24-hectares, as well as a modern swimming pool with a fountain, sun-loungers and even it's own pool bar.
Inside the house, many of the original features have been preserved including the stained glass windows of the chapel, the wrought iron entry gates and several coats of arms. A stay here may also lead to an encounter with Barbara, the supposed ghost of a young girl who haunts the halls. Legend says that she was banished to the castle's tower by her father after falling in love with a soldier. She died of despair and never left the tower with several reports of people hearing strange noises or seeing a woman's lingering shadow after dark. Stays from 3,609 euros ($4,238) per night.