Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Holidays and vacations go hand in hand, so why would Halloween be an exception? A late-October getaway may look a little different from the beach escapes you'd plan around, say, Labor Day. For one, it would most definitely require a night (purposefully) spent in a real-life haunted house.
Spooky sleepovers aren't just fiction born from Halloween movies. From the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to the Shamrock House in Rocky Bottom, South Carolina, the U.S.'s nine most haunted hotels, inns, and vacation rentals offer full nights of potential terror for amateur ghost hunters and everyday fright seekers alike.
Crescent Hotel: Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Perched high above Eureka Springs, the 1886 Crescent Hotel is an Arkansas landmark that revels in its haunted pedigree, touting itself as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel." In the 1930s, the building was a sham hospital where a charlatan named Norman Baker conned patients with his "miracle" cure for cancer. Said to be haunted by his former patients, the hotel now hosts nightly ghost tours (you can even tour Baker's morgue) and paranormal-themed performances in the on-site theater.
The hotel keeps a list of all of its named ghosts, including Michael, an Irish stonemason who died in 1885 while constructing the building; Theodora, a cancer patient of Dr. Baker's who calls out for help finding her keys; and even Morris the cat, a mysterious patient in a white nightgown who appears at the foot of your bed.
Known for its grand architecture, magnificent setting, and renowned visitors, The Stanley Hotel is perhaps most famous for its role as the setting of Stephen King's novel, “The Shining.” Nearly every guest room is said to be haunted. Guests report hearing children laughing or a piano playing, and have even had their bags mysteriously unpacked for them.
A staple on haunted hotel lists, this Colorado attraction offers several different spooky tours. Usually, during Halloween, The Stanley will also put on a murder mystery dinner, the annual Shining Ball (including live music, themed décor and treats, and a costume contest), and a masquerade costume party.
Cornstalk Hotel: New Orleans, Louisiana
On Royal Street in New Orleans' famous French Quarter, the Cornstalk Hotel is a must-see for its cornstalk-themed, wrought-iron fence and castle-like turret. Once inhabited by the first attorney general of Louisiana, François Xavier Martin, the hotel has a reputation today for being haunted by apparitions of children at play. Some guests have also reported another unsettling phenomenon: Their cameras mysteriously contain photos of themselves asleep in their hotel guest room.
New Orleans is an excellent city for haunted adventures, featuring some of the most beautifully maintained and oldest gothic-style cemeteries in the U.S. as well as a number of other venues known to host ghostly visitors.
The Salem Inn: Salem, Massachusetts
In a town infamous for its 17th-century witch trials, Room 17 at The Salem Inn is said to be haunted by a woman named Elizabeth, who was murdered by her husband in that very room. According to accounts from psychics and guests, Elizabeth particularly likes to shake things up when men stay in the room.
Legend has it that if you leave a glass of liquor for Elizabeth, she’ll leave you alone. And bring an extra sweater—the innkeeper reports that room 17 is always colder than the others despite efforts to turn up the heat.
Foley House Inn: Savannah, Georgia
In Savannah, billed as the most haunted city in America, the ghostly backstory of the Foley House Inn can be traced to its original owner, Honoria Foley. Legend has it that when a suspicious hotel guest attacked Miss Foley, she struck him over the head with a candlestick and killed him. Fearful that she would be imprisoned for murder, Ms. Foley hid the body. On her deathbed, she confided about the murder but never revealed the location of the body. During a renovation in 1987, human remains were found in the wall.
The murdered attacker and Miss Foley have both been seen as apparitions in this haunted hotel, so if you plan to stay in one of the 19 rooms available at this quaint bed and breakfast, don’t be surprised if you wake to a shadowy image of the late proprietor crying in the corner of your room.
Loews Don CeSar Hotel: St. Petersburg, Florida
This iconic pink palace lies on a gorgeous stretch of sugary sand in St. Petersburg. Built in 1928 by developer Thomas Rowe, the hotel quickly became a playground for the rich and famous and remains so to this day.
However, the hotel itself has a frightening backstory. A heartbroken Rowe built the hotel as a tribute to his true love, Lucinda, who died in Europe. It thrived through much of the early 20th century, even making it through the Great Depression, but it fell into disrepair after Rowe was found dead in his hotel room in 1940.
Guests have since reported a spying Rowe, never one to miss a party, roaming the grounds and even greeting guests in his Panama hat. Rowe still wanders the halls and checks in on guests at his sprawling Florida estate.
Queen Anne Hotel: San Francisco, California
Originally built as a girls' finishing school following the Gold Rush, the Queen Anne Hotel is said to be inhabited by the school's late headmistress. Dozens of guest accounts speak of Miss Lake appearing in mirrors or her presence being sensed as hot or cold spots.
There's even a report of Mary Lake tucking in a napping traveler with the blanket all the way around the bed. While the innkeeper has never personally seen the ghost, guests report encountering spirits at least a couple of times a week.
Captain Grant's, 1754: Preston, Connecticut
Situated between two cemeteries, Captain Grant's is on the National Register of Historic Places and is said to be frequented by no fewer than 10 ghosts, including a 5-year-old girl named Deborah Adams. The lingering spirits are children that are believed to visit from their resting places nearby.
Captain Grant’s, 1754 (the year the home was constructed) first served as a home to Captain Grant’s family and their offspring (for three generations) before being passed on to serve as a bed and breakfast for Civil War soldiers and escaped slaves. As a result, guests have reported seeing ghosts from every time period in American history.
Shamrock House: Rocky Bottom, South Carolina
Originally constructed in 1925, this eight-bedroom vacation cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina sleeps up to 24 people and is said to be haunted by a ghost who goes by Nancy. One guest claimed to have seen the spirit walking into an upstairs bedroom while another says the name Nancy was whispered in her ear. Adding to its creepiness, the Shamrock House sits on 10 acres deep in the woods, at the base of Sassafras Mountain, and, according to the website, is believed to have been the first home in the area to have electricity. In the 1960s, it once hosted President Lyndon Johnson (who, by the way, did not report any paranormal activity).