Updated 12/10/2015 - Do you believe in paranormal experiences, or are you more sceptical of those who cry ‘ghost’? Whatever you believe, we dare you to spend a night in one of these haunted dwellings this Halloween.
Scroll down to discover the creepy stories behind from those who work at these creepy hotels.
1. The Mermaid Inn (East Sussex)
Hailed as one of the most haunted inns in the whole of the UK, The Mermaid Inn is a Grade II listed historical inn, dating all the way back to the 12th century. This place really is your stereotypical haunted house - with secret passages, priest-holes and even sliding wall panels.
The Inn has strong connections with the notorious Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers, who regularly used the Inn as one of their strongholds between the 1730s and 1740s.
It is said that the smugglers are some of those who haunt The Mermaid Inn.
The Inn is said to have six haunted rooms in total, with Room 1 and 17 being particularly active.
Room 1 (also called The James) is said to be haunted by a lady in white/grey who sits in a chair by the fireplace. Numerous guests have told the same story of leaving their clothes in the bedside chair overnight, only to wake up and find them to be soaking wet. The owners have checked and there are no windows or pipes near the chair, and no other logical explanation for how the clothes could get so wet.
Stories of Room 17 (The Kingsmill) tell of sudden drops in temperature and of a rocking chair that would start rocking of its own accord. Chambermaids only clean the room in pairs as they don’t like being in there by themselves.
Other haunted rooms include Room 5 (The Nutcracker Suite), Room 10 (The Fluer de Lys), Room 16 (The Elizabethan Chamber) and Room 19 (The Hawkhurst Suite).
Speaking with the Inn’s proprietor Judith Blincow, she said:
“I have worked at the Mermaid now for over 30 years and I am always fascinated by the way it is always the same six rooms (out of a total of 31) where guests experience their ghostly encounters. I have never had an experience myself. But I have occasionally felt that there was someone else in the room with me when I knew I was actually alone.”
2. The Georgian House Hotel (London)
The Georgian House Hotel has become notable for its Harry Potter themed rooms, but it has also had its fair share of spooky encounters.
The Hotel was constructed in 1851 by master builder William Chinnery Mitchell, the great-great-grandfather of Miranda Mitchell – the present day owner.
Serena, Miranda’s daughter, has experience a few ghostly encounters during her 30 years at the Hotel, and was more than happy to share them with us:
“I was showing a hotel inspector around the hotel. As I was talking to the inspector we heard the fire door on the stairway above us slam open, and then we heard the sound of footsteps and high-pitched voice of children laughing and shrieking. I expected the children to come charging down past us, but instead the noise recede and it seemed that they had gone back upstairs.
When we reached the end of our tour around the hotel, I asked the receptionist about the family that had checked in, because we would need to speak to the parents about the noise the children were making – I didn’t want other guests disturbed.
However, the receptionist told me that there were no families staying – in fact, there was no-one in the hotel, as everyone had checked out already. There was no way that noise could have come from next door – the walls are 2ft thick – and it sounded as if they were close by.”
And it’s not just Serena, guests have also reported seeing ‘an old man’ during their stay at the hotel.
“Again,” Serena says, “there has never been anyone of that description staying at the hotel at the same time as those guests.”
Despite not knowing who these mysterious ghosts could be, she’s not worried about their presence; “We have never had anything aggressive or unpleasant, so I feel that these residents share our building with us happily.”
3. The Swan Hotel (Stafford)
Once a coaching inn, the 400-year-old Swan Hotel is said to be haunted by a number of apparitions, most notably a bride known as the ‘White Lady’, said to be the ghost of a jilted bride who supposedly hung herself at the hotel.
One of the chefs at the Swan was reported to be so disturbed by the White Lady’s presence that he quit his job at the hotel.
With stories of mysterious tunnels linking the vast cellars of the Swan Hotel with St Mary’s Church and Stafford Castle, the hotel continues to intrigue visitors and local alike.
Amongst these stories is one of a pool that is said to have once stood on the site of the hotel. Women charged with witchcraft were drowned in this pool, with the storytellers claiming that is the reason why the hotel is haunted today.
If that’s not spooky enough, the Swan also featured a priest hole from the time of the Jacobite Rebellion. When it was excavated, bottles and human bones were discovered. Remnants, perhaps, of the last desperate occupant?
“We have had guests say they have either seen or heard strange goings on and a member of our housekeeping team does see the same ghost on a regular bases, but doesn’t like talking about it as it does upset her. It is rumoured that it is a boy and a girl who haunt The Swan and it is the boy who the housekeeper sees.”
That’s the hotel’s co-owner, Dawn Lewis, who claims that she has never personally experienced anything unusual herself, but added that maybe she’s ‘just not susceptible to it’.
4. Dalhousie Castle (Edinburgh)
Dalhousie Castle dates back to the 13th century, although only the enormously thick walls from the foundation level and the vaults remain of the original structure.
The main structure of the present castle were re-built around 1450. Dalhousie Castle was converted from a boarding school into a hotel in 1972.
Notable visitors to the castle over the years include Edward I (1296) and Queen Victoria (1840). Moreover, the castle also managed to stay standing despite Henry IV laying siege to it for almost six months in 1400.
Dalhousie Castle is reputed to be haunted by the lovelorn ghost of Lady Catherine, a former Laird’s mistress who was locked up in the tower by the Laird’s jealous wife and left to starve to death. Her spirit (known as the ‘Grey Lady’) is said to stalk the castle corridors at night.
You need only check out reviews on TripAdvisor to find more ghostly claims:
“Sitting late at night watching TV my wife mentioned that twice she had felt something stroking her feet, it was as if “a piece of silk had been pulled across her ankles”. Later that evening and also on the next night we heard the sound of a woman gasping in the corner of the room.” (Posted January 2013).
Andrew Sharp, the Castle Steward and Pipe Sergeant, has been associated with the castle for more than 25 years. He says he can vouch for the presence of at least two ghosts.
5. The Jamaica Inn (Cornwall)
Immortalised in Daphne du Maurier's bestselling novel and once owned by the thriller writer Alistair MacLean, the legendary Jamaica Inn has well and truly earned its place in the history books.
With its position on the vast expanse of Bodmin Moor and featuring a cobbled courtyard and beamed ceiling, the Inn is widely regarded as one of the world's most haunted inns.
Built in 1750, Jamaica Inn was predominantly a coaching inn used by guests as a halfway house between the Cornish towns of Launceston and Bodmin.
It is reported that smugglers was frequently use the inn to stash their contraband. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of all brandy and 25% of all tea smuggled into the UK was landed along the Cornish and Devon coasts.
Other strange folk that darkened the inn's doorstep included villains, wreckers and even murderers. It is claimed that the spirit of a female worker allegedly murdered by a visitor, roams the oldest part of the inn.
In 1788 the inn was extended to include a coach house, stables and a tack room, creating the L-shaped building as it is today. The converted stables are said to hold the trapped spirit of a man who was brutally lynched more than 200 years ago.
It is said that spirits of children regularly roam the bedroom quarters, leaving unnerving laughter in their wake. However, rooms 4, 5 and 6 are boast the most gruesome tales.
We spoke to a member of staff at the Jamaica Inn (who wished to remain anonymous) who told us:
“In December 2013, a couple awoke to aggressive rattles on the outside door knob of their room, only for there to be no one in the hallway. After a second of more intense rattling, the couple returned again to investigate only to notice that the door didn’t even have a knob that could be rattled.”
For many years, the inn has conducted paranormal investigations and ghost hunts using a variety of equipment including ouija boards, dowsing rods, electromagnetic field detectors and temperature tests, all have which have picked up interesting activity.
6. Chillingham Castle (Northumberland)
Chillingham Castle certainly has a disturbing history, with a number of remains being discovered within the very walls of the castle.
Complete with its very own torture chamber – with nearly all of the torture implements still in perfect working order – it’s hardly a surprise that this 800-year-old castle makes the list.
The most famous apparition is known as the ‘Radiant Boy’, who was frequently spotted in what is now called the Pink Room. Stories cite that when the clock tower struck midnight, the cries and moans of a child in pain could be heard, and in some cases a halo of light appeared close to the old four-poster bed.
These stories get creepier when you are reminded that the bones of a young boy were discovered in the 10-foot thick walls of the Pink Room. Since they were removed and interred, those particular hauntings have ceased.
But more continue, in what is called The Inner Pantry, a frail female figure in white - dubbed ‘the white pantry ghost’ - still appears. One night, when the footman had turned in to sleep, he was accosted by this lady apparition.
Very pale, she begged him for water. The footman, thinking it was one of the castle guests, turned to obey. Suddenly he remembered he was locked in the pantry and that no guest could have possibly entered. When he turned back the figure had disappeared.
The ‘white pantry ghost’ is still seen today, and it is thought the longing for water suggests that she died from poisoning.
Again, TripAdvisor reviews show that many other guests have experienced their own spooky encounters:
“I definitely believe the castle and surroundings are haunted. We didn’t actually see anything but heard strange bells in the smaller bedroom and a photograph caught a misty face in the mirror! Tip: take a toy and place it somewhere in the room; see if it moves (ours vanished).” (Posted August 2014)
“Caught a lady in a long grey dress at the door to an apartment looking down the stairs then disappear through the locked door into the apartment…” (Posted March 2014)
7. Dean Court Hotel (York)
The historic Dean Court Hotel stands facing the West Front of York Minister. It has two ghost tales attached to it. However, the first is something of a puzzle.
Witnesses have claimed to see the ghostly apparition of a Roman soldier. However, Roman soldiers have not marched in York for some 1,600 years, and the Dean Court Hotel is considerably younger than that, not being constructed until 1855.
So who is this mysterious Roman solider?
The second (and in recent years considerably more active) apparition is said to haunt the cellar of the hotel. This is said to be the ghost of a woman who dates back to the Victorian era, dubbed the ‘Mad Maid’.
Mediums who have visited the hotel in the past have agreed that ‘the presence’ used to work as a cleaner in the guesthouse that used to be next door to (and later becoming part of) the hotel.
Room 36 is also said to be source of odd ‘feelings’. Numerous guests have reported feeling an alien pressure on the bed – as if someone has sat on it – as well as sudden cold spots (even on warm days).
Others have claimed that doors have slammed of their own accord, and objects have been moved from their original positions.
In 2011, The York Press published an article about a guest who claimed to have been ‘grabbed’ by something paranormal whilst staying at the hotel:
“Something grabbed my foot quite hard and pulled, as if to pull me out of bed. I was lying awake at 2:50am when my foot was grabbed and pulled with such a force I moved down the bed several centimetres.”
8. Ettington Park Hotel (Warwickshire)
Ettington Park is a brooding neo-gothic mansion and has been the home of the Shirley family for over a thousand years. Built in the 12th century, Ettington Park is one of the oldest buildings in the Midlands.
During 1935 the mansion was used as a nursing home; following World War II it become a prisoner of war camp.
In 1963 it starred as a setting the film The Haunting by Robert Wise.
Retired Night Manager Michael Kenny experienced a multitude of ghosts and paranormal encounters during his time at Ettington Park. The following (very brief) list includes some of Kenny’s experiences, as well as the psychic investigations of professional medium Jenny Bright, and analytic scientist Dr. David Cross:
- Poltergeist-type phenomenon witnessed in the form of ‘flying’ books
- Male voices and the sound of billiard balls heard (unknown sources)
- Dramatic changes of temperature
- Ghostly presence of unknown woman
The Long Gallery
- Strong feelings of being watched felt by both staff and guests
- Ghost of an army officer and an elderly lady frequently seen
- Numerous reports of unusual incidents
The Stour Corridor
- Haunted by the ghosts of two children who drowned in the Stour River in 1800
- Ghost of the Grey Lady and an unknown monk frequently seen
Great Drawing Room
- Voice heard (unknown sources)
- Ghost of Edwardian lady frequently seen
- Doors and curtains opening and shutting in mysterious and unusual circumstances
- Ghostly presence of an unknown boy
There are countless other stories of unusual experiences from those who have visited Ettington Park, and it has had a long reputation for being one of the most haunted hotels in the UK – it was even names as such by the AA.
9. Ancient Ram Inn (Gloucestershire)
The Ancient Ram Inn is believed by many to be one of the most haunted buildings in the UK.
The inn is owned by John Humphries, who claims to have grabbed by the arm by a demonic force and dragged from the bed across the room on his first night:
“I knew nothing of the hauntings when I bought the place. It wasn’t until the first night, when I felt a pair of cold, hairy hands pulling me out of bed, that I knew something strange was going on at the Ram.
My daughters regularly saw a large black cat-like creature and I have since found out that this animal – an evil incubus – features in many paranormal situations. Several of our visitors have been thrown out of chairs and others have felt icy hands in bed.”
Mr Humphries has also found evidence of Devil worship and ritual sacrifice at the Ram. He discovered the skeletal remains of children beneath the staircase, with broken daggers within the skeletons.
Carole Humphries, John’s Humphries daughter, was quoted in the Daily Mail saying:
“When I was a child, I was so scared of the house I used to sleep in a caravan outside…once I woke up and found a chest of drawers hovering over my bed – before it crashed down the staircase.”
The Ancient Ram Inn has been investigated by many paranormal researchers, particularly for TV shows like Ghost Adventures and Most Haunted. The former Bishop of Gloucester, Reverend John Yates, tried (and failed) to exorcise one of the rooms and was quoted in the Western Daily Press as saying the inn is “the most evil place I have ever had the misfortune to visit.”
A Spooky Encounter
When researching for this article, I had the pleasure of speaking to Gary Coupe, who describes himself as being ‘quite the sceptic’. Gary has visited the Ram on numerous occasions, as a guest and as part of a paranormal investigation group:
“A group of about a dozen of us were in the attic. In order to get there, we had to climb a set of about eight stairs, and as the last person to go up, I closed a latched door behind me.
I then set up a motion alarm at the bottom of the stairs, an EMF meter mid-way, and another motion alarm at the top (they are the standard ‘magic eye’ type alarms, which create a beam between two sensors. A light will flash/sound if this beam is broken).
The group asked if a spirit was willing to make their presence known. We had a number of EMF meters being held by various members of the group, and several of them activated. We asked if the spirit could walk in a circle around the group, and in turn, activate the EMF meters just one at a time. This happened around 30 seconds later.
We then asked if the spirit would be willing to move downstairs, and communicate with another group. The EMF meters activated in sequence, following a line towards the staircase. At that point, the motion alarm atop the stairs activated, followed by the EMF meter mid-way, and then the motion alarm at the foot of the stairs.
Finally, the door latch clicked, and the door opened just a fraction – enough to elicit a few screams from our group.
As a member of staff, I know 100% that we do not manipulate any of the equipment (to be honest, none of us have the required knowledge to do so)…Therefore, if paranormal is defined as ‘something you can’t attribute to normal, everyday things’, then I believe what I experienced that night was indeed paranormal.”
10. Dobbins Inn (Northern Ireland)
The family run Dobbins Inn Hotel was built over 500 years ago and is steeped in history.
In the 15th century a woman by the name of Elizabeth (wife of the owner Hugh Dobbins) fell in love with a soldier stationed at Carrickfergus Castle.
Elizabeth would use a concealed passage at the back of the old stone fireplace - the entrance to which is still evident – to meet in secret with the soldier, known simply as ‘Buttoncap’.
It wasn’t long before Elizabeth’s husband, Dobbins, discovered the affair. Enraged, reports say Dobbins “put them [Elizabeth and Buttoncap] to death with his sword”.
Elizabeth’s ghost is the one that wanders the hotel to this day.
When questioned, Kirsty Fallis, who works at the Dobbins Inn, said:
“We have had a number of recent ‘movements’. Our conference room has had a strange figure moving across the fireplace, and in our restaurant there was a mysterious figure seen in a picture taken by a member of staff.”
Do you have something to add to this story? Have you experienced something spooky at one of these hotels? Comment below to share your thoughts.