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Why is it so hard to work the air-conditioning? What makes the ridiculously overpriced tiny tub of Pringles so irresistible at 2am? Let’s be honest, hotels are places steeped in mystery – and these ones in particular might have a little extra spirit to add to their idiosyncracies.
This infamous 700-room downtown LA property is now known as Stay on Main, but it was once a notorious budget hotel. It was built in 1927 with the hope of attracting an affluent clientele, but the Great Depression saw a dramatic decline in the fortunes of Skid Row, the area where the hotel still stands. Things got so bad that some residents began to refer to the Cecil as the Suicide. Serial killers Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger are known to have stayed here, but for some, the most heinous act committed at the hotel was an impromptu performance by rock band U2 that has been immortalised in their video for Where the Streets Have No Name.
This five-star luxury hotel, in the heart of central London, is regarded as one of the most lavish places to stay in the world. Built between 1863 and 1865, the hotel, which is situated just minutes from the busy shopping mecca of Oxford Street, has featured in numerous films and books – not least Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s early Sherlock Holmes novels which date back to the 1870s. Guests over the years have reported spooky apparitions patrolling the corridors, and a recent account by international cricketers Joe Root and Stuart Broad gained media attention. Thrill seekers should book room 333, said to be the most haunted room in the hotel, if you’re brave – and rich – enough.
The US has hundreds of supposedly haunted hotels, but few can boast spooky guests of the calibre at the Hollywood Roosevelt on Hollywood Boulevard. The oldest continuously operating hotel in LA, it opened in 1927 and hosted the first ever Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Given its prime location, a number of film stars have stayed here, but it’s said that some have never checked out. Marilyn Monroe took up residence for two years, and her ghostly figure has been reported in the reflection of a large mirror opposite the lifts on the ground floor.
The Fairmont Banff Springs, built in 1888, sits in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, with spectacular scenery that has attracted visitors for decades. It’s a luxurious hideaway offering unparalleled levels of comfort to guests. Some, however, have reported paranormal activity, such as the Ghost Bride, who frequently startles staff as she searches through the hotel for her husband. A more genial presence reported in recent years by guests is Sam the Bellman; many people are convinced they have been helped him, even though he died in 1975.
One of the oldest pubs in Wales, Skirrid Mountain Inn (to give it its more formal title) has a checkered past to say the least. The first floor was once the scene of a court hearing that resulted in the hanging of 180 men. The beams of the inn are still exposed today but it’s not the spirit of the unfortunate victims that are said to haunt this building. Guests have reported that Judge Jeffreys, the man responsible for the grisly act in the first place, is still looking for more people to condemn to the noose.
If you visit the Fresco Room in this central Florentine hotel, you might well sense a little uneasiness. Previous guests have reported feeling someone is watching them while an icy breath cascades over them, though perhaps this has something to do with an earlier resident? Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini once stayed in this room, which is said to be haunted by an ethereal pink man. Elsewhere you might be unfortunate enough to run into ghastly children skipping through the corridors. We’re not sure if these sightings are ghosts or just unruly kids burning off a gelato sugar rush.
Most spirits tend to stay in the background doing very little most of the time. The ghosts that haunt what was once the Akasaka Weekly Mansion (today the hotel is part of the Mystays chain) are very different, opting for a more hands-on approach. Unexpected temperature changes are commonplace in many hotels, but can you explain the white mist that descends from the vents here? If that wasn’t enough, perhaps reports of guests having the hair stroked by an unseen force will pique your interest.
Sweden’s lush landscape can feel oppressively eery at times. A number of strange incidents have occurred on the peaceful shores of Vidostern Lake, which is where you’ll find this 14th-century former country manor. In 2018 an eight-year-old girl somehow pulled an ancient sword from the lake, but that’s nothing compared to the terrifying goings-on in the hotel itself. The story goes that a young peasant boy was separated from his true love by the owner of the manor. Heartbroken and unable to win back the girl, the boy then hanged himself in room 324 on the eve of his lover’s marriage to another man. The boy is still looking for his unrequited love hundreds of years later.
Built in 1884 as an expensive Australian family home, Monte Cristo Homestead now operates as a small hotel. Unfortunately the current owners don’t seem able to escape former occupants, with Mrs Crawley reportedly still making her presence felt decades after she died here from a burst appendix. It’s a painful way to go, and the trauma has clearly left its mark on the place.
Today Castle Stuart is a luxury hotel with a golf course attached. Back in the 16th century, the castle was built as a fortress by James Stuart, 1st Earl of Moray and the half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots. Unfortunately for Stuart, the building remained unfinished as he was murdered before its completion. The same thing happened to his son, so it was left to the 3rd Earl of Moray to oversee the work. The Stuart family home then fell into disrepair following the execution of Charles I in 1649. Are you sure you still want to play a round of golf here?
This iconic Mumbai landmark has seen its fair share of modern tragedy, but its troubling past goes back to its very origins. French architect WA Chambers designed the hotel, but it was built in his absence in an entirely different direction to the one he had planned. Distraught at what he found on his return, Chambers went up to the fifth floor, where he threw himself out of a window and fell to his death. Staff have reported seeing the mournful spirit of a man wondering around what is now the old wing of the hotel.