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The World's Spookiest Hotels

By: Staff

October 12 2017

Yes, there are scarier things you can encounter in a hotel room than Harvey Weinstein in a bathrobe. We’re talking about encounters of the paranormal kind—ghosts and ghouls who haunt hotels, spooking guests and staff with strange sounds, unexplained movements, and macabre apparitions. It’s not just Bates Motel–type places that are beset by these undead spirits—some of these ghosts happen to have great taste in hotels. Hauntings have been reported at all of the luxurious digs listed below—all unproven legends, of course. But if you’re concerned, book with Skylark so we can upgrade you to an exorcised room. We’ll even throw in a smudge stick to be safe.

The Langham Hotel, London

London is full of ghost stories—just ask Ebeneezer Scrooge. But only the Langham Hotel can boast of at least four different apparitions....that we know of. There’s the man in military dress (supposedly a German soldier) who paces the fourth floor of the venerable hotel, and the wraithlike butler who still tries to assist customers one floor below. You might spot a figure with a gaping facial wound stalking the corridors, or the spirit of Napoleon III, a former guest, in the basement. But the award for most likely to spook is the gentleman in Victorian evening wear who haunts Room 333 each October. He’s supposedly the specter of a doctor who killed his wife on their honeymoon, then offed himself. Several BBC journalists (the network was formerly headquartered across the street) have attested to ghost sightings at the Langham—though skeptics say they were just trying to get out of deadlines. 

The Hay-Adams, Washington DC

If you detect the scent of almonds in the corridors of the Hay-Adams, it’s probably not Obama practicing his much-rumored seven-nuts-per-night habit. No, the history goes back much further than that: In 1885, Marian Hooper “Clover” Adams, socialite wife of the historian Henry Adams—and the inspiration for Henry James’s Daisy Miller—committed suicide at home. That home was later razed; the luxurious hotel, named partially after Mr. Adams, was built on the same spot in 1928. To this day, Clover’s spirit makes mournful sounds, opens and closes doors, and trails an almond-like aroma—which is what potassium cyanide, the substance she ingested to do herself in, smells like.

Heathman Hotel, Portland, Oregon

The 1927 landmark Heathman Hotel is best known for its mattress menu, its extensive library—and for being the location for some of the steamiest scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey. But if you’re planning to stay here for a bit of, uh, romance, avoid rooms 703, 803 and 1003. They are supposedly visited by the ghost of a guest who jumped to his death many years ago and now haunts the rooms he passed on the way down. Visitors have reported paranormal events—including cold spots, strange sounds, moved furniture, clean towels replaced with soiled ones, and other inexplicable acts (that have nothing to do with the book). 

Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada

Talk about a Bridezilla. Back in the 1920s, a beautiful young lady celebrated her fairytale nuptials at the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs. Descending one of the hotel’s sweeping marble staircases, she suddenly slipped on her gown and fell to her untimely death. Ever since, staff and guests have reported seeing a veiled figure floating up and down the stairs; sometimes a specter in a wedding dress dances in the ballroom. A more helpful spirit is that of Sam McAuley, the hotel’s head bellman in the 1960s and 70s, who still lends a ghostly hand to the staff from time to time. If you stay here, don’t try to book Room 873, where legend has it a family was once murdered. After several guests reported being awoken by screams and seeing bloody handprints on the bathroom mirror, management sealed up the room for good.

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

On Thanksgiving Day 1892, a young woman named Kate Morgan checked in to the historic Hotel del Coronado.... but never checked out. Poor Kate was waiting for a suitor to join her, but after five lonely days, decided to take her own life. Police, unable to identify her body, telegraphed her description across the country, and newspapers referred to her as “the beautiful stranger.” Guests and employees have reported seeing creepy Kate haunting her third-floor room, flickering the lights, turning the television on and off, and causing mysterious scents and sounds. The story is recounted every October at a spooky beachfront bonfire called the “Ghost Roast”—with s’mores provided to counteract any heebie-jeebies.