Shiver-Inducing Haunts Around the World

October 31, 2017

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Happy Halloween!

To celebrate, our city guide authors from around the world have rounded up the spookiest, creepiest haunts in their cities. From ghost sightings at hotels to mummified serial killers, here are a few places for you to visit on this All Hallows’ Eve.

Chicago

Hallway in Congress Plaza Hotel.

For spine-tingling thrills in Chicago, Matt Kirouac suggests you book a room at Congress Plaza Hotel, the most haunted hotel in Illinois. The historic, classic hotel may look grand, but when the sun goes down, it becomes deeply eerie – otherworldly voices can be heard in the hallway, specters can be seen roaming numerous floors, the elevator often stops on the eighth floor even when no one has called for it, Room 441 is only for the bravest souls (security is called to it more than any other room in the hotel!), and there’s even a room on the twelfth floor that’s so frightening that it’s been bolted shut.

Denver

Denver resident Abigail Edge reminded us that we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, an hour’s drive from Denver. It was the inspiration for the Outlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining. Guests at this 108-year-old hotel have claimed paranormal experiences ranging from finding their belongings unpacked to hearing invisible children running and playing in the halls. Really leaning into their claim to fame, The Stanley hosts daily ghost tours and Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation plays on a 24-hour loop in all 138 guest rooms.

New Orleans

Faulkner House Books


If ghosts exist anywhere, it’s in New Orleans. While everything from St. Louis Cathedral to the fence in front of the Cornstalk Hotel is said to be haunted, author Beth D’Addono let us know that there are at least 22 places in the French Quarter where you might find a “cold spot”. If you start around Jackson Square and cut over to Bourbon Street, you can visit 10 of them, including Muriel’s where Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan committed suicide; Faulkner House Books, where the namesake wrote his first novel and folks swear they smell his pipe smoke and have seen his ghost writing at the desk; and La Petite Theatre du Vieux Carré, where an actress from the 1930s accidentally tumbled over the railing to her death in the courtyard below, dressed in a white wedding gown for the play that night. Ready for a haunted stroll?

Seattle

Panama Hotel

The Emerald City has its fair share of famous residents, but Jenise Silva told us that one infamous ghost is Alice B. Tonklas (Yes, the Alice B. Tonklas of Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Tonklas), who it’s said can be spotted at Hotel Sorrento. No one is quite sure why she’s hung around here, but it’s believed that her childhood home in Seattle was quite near where the hotel now stands. On a more somber note, it’s also believed that the Panama Hotel, once a popular boardinghouse for Japanese residents, is haunted by former tenants who were forced into internment camps during WWII, and whose belongings remain in the building.

Rio de Janeiro

If you like your haunted hotels abandoned, Tom Le Mesurier highly suggests a visit to O Esqueleto da Gavea (which translates to “Skeleton Hotel”) in Rio‘s Gavea shouldn’t be missed. The construction on it was never actually finished due to bankruptcy, so the workers just left the structure in the middle of the jungle. Though not truly haunted by ghosts, the shell of a building littered with bricks and overgrown with vegetation might leave you feeling unsettled, especially if you venture out around dusk.

Amsterdam

Here’s a modern ghost story for you, told to us by our Amsterdam writer, Ali Ronca. In 1988, shortly after playing a show in Hanover, Germany, jazz musician Chet Baker – who struggled with drug addiction – arrived in Amsterdam, where he checked into Room 210 at the Prins Hendrik Hotel. At approximately 3am, Baker was found dead on the street outside his second floor room, with serious injuries to his head. No one knew if he fell, jumped, or was pushed, however the death was ruled an accident due to the cocaine and heroin found in his blood. Today, there’s a small plaque outside in his memory, and guests can book Room 210, which is said to be haunted. The only way to find out is to stay there, if you dare.

Dublin

Reading cages at Marsh’s Library

In the shadows of Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral sits Marsh’s Library, Ireland’s oldest public library. Dublin expert Fiona Hilliard says it’s little known, but gloriously Gothic: think towering bookcases, antique rolling ladders, and even Victorian “reading cages,” where visitors were locked inside when reading valuable books to prevent theft. Legend has it that the spirit of the library’s founder, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh has never left the 300-year-old building. The story goes that Grace, Marsh’s 19-year-old niece, whom he’d raised, fell in love with a man that Marsh couldn’t stand. The morning she and her lover ran away to elope, Grace wrote a note for her uncle, explaining her decision and pleading for forgiveness, but she slipped the note in one of the thousands of books in his library in hopes that he wouldn’t find it in time to stop them. Marsh died without ever recovering the note, and it’s said that his ghost continues to search the library, shaking desks, rattling the reading cages and anxiously riffling through rows of leather-bound books And the spookiness doesn’t end there! The fact that Dubliner and Dracula author Bram Stoker regularly popped in here for a spot of research certainly adds to the library’s intrigue, and then there’s the mysterious tale of the headless Egyptian mummy, discovered in a cupboard in the library in 1888. Nobody quite knows how it got there, but staff affectionately named him Maurice.

Rome

The Capuchin Crypt.

An ancient city with a notorious violent streak, it wouldn’t really be a surprise to find that every building in Rome had an unsettling story or two. But a few choice spots high in discomfort levels recommended by our writer Livia Hengel include The Capuchin Crypt, which contains thousands of skeletal remains of the Capuchin friars (fun-fact: cappuccino is named after them!), the Church of Santo Stefano Rotondo with its frescoes depicting 34 scenes of (graphic) martyrdom and the Vatican Necropolis, which is home to Saint Peter’s remains.

Florence

The eerie Piazza del Limbo

For chills in another Italian city, Florence resident Nardia Plumridge recommends Bargello, a building dating back to 1255. Initially home to house city’s guards, by the 16th century this fortress-like building turned into a prison where it is said victim’s heads were displayed by the bell tower as a gruesome warning to others of what their fate would be if they went up against the famed Medici family. Despite its dark past, today it’s a museum housing works by Donatello, Michelangelo and Cellini! Then there’s Piazza del Limbo, a small square named as a nod to its former life as a cemetery for newborns who had yet to be baptized. It’s said the ghosts of children past live between the walls of the nearby palaces in this tiny pocket of Florence.

Bangkok


When Joe Cummings told us about Siriraj Medical Museum, we barely believed him. But it’s true: Bangkok has an entire museum dedicated to all things shiver-inducing. Though it’s part of a hospital’s museum network devoted to forensics, parasitology and anatomy, this place is nicknamed “The Museum of Death” for a reason: the forensics division includes skulls and body parts of murder victims, as well as the mummified remains of Bangkok’s first serial killer. Seriously grisly.

Seoul

Witch’s Kitchen

As per our Seoul guru, Monica Williams, Halloween has usually been a holiday reserved for foreigners in Korea, but Koreans are increasingly getting in the spirit with celebrations around town. The best way to kick off Halloween is with Seoul Players’ “Rocky Horror Shadowcast” production at Club Freebird. In the show, the movie version of the horror musical will play on a large screen as the cast acts it out on stage. Heckling is not only encouraged, but expected. If you’re more into costumes and pubs, though, Seoul has you covered: you can stop for a red or blue booze IV injection at  Witch’s Kitchen, head up to the rooftop at Blood Moon  in Itaewon for drinks, hookah and hip-hop, or to the roof at Playground in Hongdae – costumes aren’t required but they’re strongly suggested, so dress to impress.

Shanghai

Ask the guardian lions at Jingan Temple for their protection before you start off on the ghost hunt!

Love a ghost tour? Then Sophie Friedman suggests you check out this Shanghai Ghost Tour around Jingan that visits the haunted Paramount Theatre (not one, but two spirits have taken up residence there), a cemetery, the remains of a razed hotel and a dark grotto while you learn about Shanghai‘s most infamous ghosts and even zombies.

Singapore

Haw Par Villa.

In our very own hometown of Singapore, there’s the nearly absurdist, definitely unsettling Haw Par Villa. Built to depict scenes from Chinese mythology and folklore, the sculptures in this theme park showcase, among other things, the Ten Courts of Hell, complete with images of torture and dismemberment.

For more great insider recommendations from local residents in cities across the globe, pick up The HUNT Guides on gatehousepublishing.com

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