People go on vacation for all kinds of reasons: they need to rest and recharge; they want to experience adventure; or maybe they want to see something new and different. If you like your vacations with an emphasis on the latter two, you might consider a pilgrimage to a haunted hotel. Hotels all over the world have popped up in buildings with terrifying or odd histories, and claim their gory pasts as a way to attract people keen to lie in high thread-count sheets and feel terrified all night. Whether you prefer your ghosts anonymous or famous, corporeal or simply gusts of wind and weird clunking noises, there's somewhere in the world for you.
"Ghost hotels" aren't actually all that new. People have been fascinated by staying in places that allegedly have resident phantoms for centuries. Spiritual "seances" and other practices became highly popular in the 19th century, and contact with the spirit world was fashionable AF. From that period onward, we've seen a room with a view as about as valuable as a room with a decent in-house ghost. Europe is particularly good for hotels with dark pasts — castles in particular are a good pick — but the U.S. has its own home-grown places with haunted histories. So wherever you want to lay your head, be prepared to pick up a room key and feel a strange chill in the air.
Hotel Burchianti, Italy
The Burchianti in Florence is one of the country's most haunted, according to legend. Phantoms include skipping children and knitting women, though if you're just creeped out by history without any extras, you may simply get a crawling feeling from the fact that dictator Benito Mussolini reportedly once stayed here.
The Heathman Hotel, Oregon
Amberley Castle, UK
Place d’Armes Hotel, New Orleans
New Orleans has a definitively otherworldly feel at the best of times, but the Place d'Armes in the French Quarter beats everything else on the list. It's reportedly the home of a swathe of phantoms, because it used to be a school that burned down in the 19th century, allegedly consuming children and teachers. Cue creepy children's laughter, strange bearded gentlemen and other decidedly supernatural experiences.
The Chelsea Hotel, New York
The Chelsea is famous full stop, hosting everybody from Patti Smith to Robert Mapplethorpe in its dissolute history. But the legendary haunt for many of the 20th century's most famous dissipated artists in NYC is also alleged to be haunted by the ghost of Sid Vicious, who died here, and, oddly, the poet Dylan Thomas. Ten points if you get that apparition to recite anything before he disappears.
Q Station Retreat, Australia
Sydney's history as a penal colony lends itself to many colorful ghost stories, and Q Station, which was originally a quarantine station for contagious prisoners, has a horrific past independent of any spooky additions. The isolated hotel was less a hospital than a place for incurable cases to die quietly without infecting anybody, so don't expect to feel completely at home.
Parador Jaén, Spain
Forget Pamplona's bull-goring; the true blood and guts of Spanish history are reportedly found in Parador Jaén, a fortress in Andalusia built in the 1700s. It's reported to be haunted by everything from a winsome female ghost to a prisoner who died of hunger. He's named, for some reason, Terrible Lizard, and isn't thought to be threatening, but it's hardly a settling experience.
If you're down to spend your PTO among the undead, these are some pretty clutch places to do it. Don't forget to Instagram your ghost-hunting gear.