Spooky stays: haunted hotels and ghostly guesthouses to book for Halloween

From a 13th-century Arab fortress with a crying spectre, to the London hotel which spooked the England cricket team, book a stay where the permanent guests never checked out at all …

From left: Sweden's Borgvattnet Vicarage, the house from the film 'Scream', and Parador de Jaen in Spain all offer the spookiest of stays this Halloween. Photo: Borgvattnet Vicarage, Airbnb, Parador de Jaen
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If you like your holidays with a side-order of spectral occurrences, eschew the usual hotels and bed and breakfasts in favour of a stay with a little more paranormal pedigree.

With Halloween just around the corner, Airbnb has added the house from movie franchise Scream to their site. Promising a night of horror films, and perhaps a phone call from Ghostface himself, the house isn’t the only spooky movie location that has become a haven for film fans hoping to hear something go bump in the night.

Holidaymakers have long flocked to Colorado’s Stanley Hotel, which doubled as the Overlook Hotel in horror film The Shining. And in 2016, the house that inspired the film The Amityville Horror, hit the market for $850,000.

But while there’s a clear line between Hollywood and horror, there are hotels you can check into where some of the guests have been staying for a really long time. Centuries, in fact.

Along with the Scream house, here are 10 hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts that serve up something a little ghostly as part of the guest experience…

‘Scream’ House, California, USA

The 'Scream' house in California, which featured in the first instalment of the horror-comedy franchise is now available for rent, and includes middle-of-the-night phone calls from Ghostface himself. Photo: Airbnb

Do you like scary movies? As the horror-comedy franchise gears up for its fifth outing, fans of the films can now stay in the house where Sidney gave teenage psychos Billy and Stu their comeuppance. The house, which was the setting for the party where Tatum got squashed by Ghostface in the garage door, is available to rent on Airbnb, and fans of the films will be pleased to hear it’s leaning hard into its spooky roots.

Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) is on hand to virtually meet guests, and there’s no need to venture out – there might be a curfew in Woodsboro after all – as you can binge-watch all four Scream films. Finally, if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep, be aware that Ghostface might call at any hour.


Parador de Jaen, Andalucia, Spain

The Parador de Jaen in Andalucia, Spain was once a 13th-century Arab fortress, and boasts a storied ghostly history. Photo: Parador de Jaen

If you’re looking for a spooky stay in this 13th-century Arab fortress, room 22 is the one to book. According to the hotel’s website, that’s the room in which a guest was awoken one night to the sounds of banging on the door and a woman crying. A team of paranormal investigators concluded that the space was haunted by the spirit of a young woman who had died of heartbreak there many centuries ago.

That’s not the only spiritual guest at the monastic-style retreat on top of Santa Catalina Hill. It’s also home to the Lagarto Terrible (Terrible Lizard), a former prisoner of the fortress who died of hunger and is known to walk the hallways.


The Shelbourne, Dublin, Ireland

The Shelbourne in Dublin, is home to little Mary Masters who died in 1791 and who has made the hotel her playground ever since. Photo: The Shelbourne

The “Grand Dame of Dublin” has long been a royal and celebrity-favoured destination with the likes of Julia Roberts, Bill Clinton, Bono and Princess Grace of Monaco all staying there. However, by far the hotel’s most famous guest is Mary Masters, a girl aged 7 who died of cholera in 1791 and calls The Shelbourne her forever home.

According to the Irish Mirror: “At one stage over a six-month period, between two and three hotel guests a week were reporting apparent paranormal activity, including sink, bath taps and showers turning on by themselves.”

Even Hollywood isn’t immune to the ghostly goings-on. The Blind Side actress Lily Collins recalled of her sixth-floor stay on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon: “I open my eyes and I hear a giggle. And I felt a rush of air across my body and I heard all these doors slamming.”

Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, Alberta, Canada

The Fairmont Banff Springs in the Canadian Rockies is home to a ghost dubbed The Bride, and a former bellman who doesn't want to leave. Photo: Fairmont Hotels

Given that this 764-room chateau in the Rockies dates back to 1888, it would be strange if it didn’t have one or two tales to tell. Located in Banff National Park, the hotel has a few guests who check-in and out when they like, usually leaving through the walls rather than the door.

The most famous has been dubbed The Bride and is the ghost of a young woman who slipped and fell on the marble staircase on her wedding day. Staff claim to have seen her on the stairs and in the ballroom waiting for the first dance she never had.

Another resident is that of Sam McCauley, the elderly Scottish bellman who worked at the hotel during the 1960s and '70s, and died in 1975. McCauley remains dedicated to his role, with a story told of two elderly women who called the bell desk for assistance when their key didn’t work. The hotel bellman arrived after 15 minutes only to be told an older bellman in a tartan waistcoat, matching McCauley’s description, had already helped them.


The Langham, London, England

London's Langham is home to five ghosts, including a German Prince and Emperor Louis Napoleon III. Photo: The Langham

When it comes to unexplained happenings, The Langham in London, England leaves a lot of the country’s famously haunted castles standing. The 158-year-old hotel is said to be home to former resident, Emperor Louis Napoleon III as well as a German prince who jumped from his upper-level bedroom window, and who is often seen in the corridors and passing through walls.

With no fewer than five ghosts, back in 2014, members of England’s Test cricket team moved rooms or quit the hotel altogether thanks to unexplained occurrences.

“During the Sri Lanka Test, I had to move rooms,” fast bowler Stuart Broad told the Daily Mail. “It was so hot in the room, I just couldn’t sleep. All of a sudden, the taps in the bathroom came on for no reason. I turned the lights on and the taps turned themselves off. Then when I turned the lights off again, the taps came on. It was very weird.”

The stiff of upper lip should book into room 333, which is said to be the most haunted.


Borgvattnet Vicarage, Jamtland, Sweden

Certificates are awarded to guests who manage to stay for the night at Sweden's Borgvattnet Vicarage, where rocking chairs move by themselves and crying women are heard. Photo: Borgvattnet Vicarage

It’s not often guests get a certificate to prove they lasted the night, but that’s what overnight visitors to the haunted Borgvattnet Vicarage receive.

Built in 1876, the vicarage has been converted into a bed and breakfast, with guests immersed in the natural beauty of the rural area where there’s plenty of fishing, snowmobiling in winter … and ghosts.

Local residents of Borgvattnet have long spoken of hearing women crying in the inn – the vicarage has its own room, Graterskornas rum (the room of the crying ladies) – while guests have reported a mysterious rocking chair, strange images in the mirror, singing radiators, footsteps and many more unexplainable goings-on.


Chateau de Marcay, Loire Valley, France

Tales swirling around the 15th-century Chateau de Marcay include a lady of the house who was also a werewolf. Photo: Chateau de Marcay

As far as urban legends go, the Chateau de Marcay lays claim to a terrifying tale to be told around the fire at night. Situated in France’s stunning Loire Valley, the 15th-century castle which was turned into a hotel in 1973, boasts its very own woman in white. Local legend has it that one of the ladies living at the Chateau de Marcay was a werewolf.

After transforming, she was shot one night by a farmer, and her body was found, shrouded in white. The farmer buried her in secret and she has haunted the corridors of the chateau ever since. Witnesses who have seen her say she is “beautiful” and aged around 20.


Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein, South Africa

Lord Milner Hotel in South Africa is home to the ghost the owners have named Lucy, who appears in a negligee on the stairs and along the corridors. Photo: Lord Milner Hotel

The resident apparition at the Lord Milner Hotel has a name, Lucy. Guests claim to have spotted her wearing a negligee and appearing along the corridors on the first floor and on the stairs.

The hotel, completed in 1899 and named after the governor of the Cape during the Anglo-Boer War, is located at the edge of the Great Karoo plateau in Matjiesfontein Village. The local town served as command headquarters during the South African War, resulting in a fair few unexplained occurrences reported over the years.

Lucy the spectre has been blamed for voices coming from empty rooms, as well as loud arguments that punctuate the still evening air. Guests have also reported the sound of hundreds of glasses shattering, despite no damage being found.


Hotel Kurrajong Canberra, Australia

Opening in 1926, afternoon tea was a staple of life at Canberra's Hotel Kurrajong, where a former prime minister still looks out across to Parliament House. Photo: Hotel Kurrajong

When it comes to ghostly pedigree, Hotel Kurrajong Canberra boasts quite an impressive spectre. Throwing open its doors in 1926, and once enjoying a visit from Queen Elizabeth II, the country’s former prime minister Ben Chifley suffered a heart attack and died on the evening of June 13, 1951, in room 214.

Chifley’s grey-suited ghost has been spotted in the room, looking towards nearby Parliament House.


El Hotel Meson de Jobito, Mexico

Guests at Hotel Meson de Jobito in Mexico are awoken around 4am by the sound of miners seeking work and horses charging down the corridors. Photo: Hotel Meson de Jobito

If you stay at Mexico’s El Hotel Meson de Jobito, expect to get an alarm call around 4am, as that is the time guests tend to experience the supernatural goings-on which have made the hotel famous.

Once a private residence, the hotel dates back to 1700, and served as a market and a stable for horses before throwing open its doors to paying guests in 1993.

Hotels guests have reported seeing old-fashioned miners looking for work prospecting for the gold the area was once famous for, as well as horses’ hooves clip-clopping in the hallways. There have also been reports of children running and jumping, but when checked, no children were found. The most haunted room is said to be 107, which used to belong to the caretaker.


Updated: October 25, 2021, 1:15 PM