by KRISTY ALPERT OCT 29, 2021
I’m a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural, partly because I’m generally skeptical by nature, but mainly because I scare easily and I’d rather believe in a busted air conditioner than a howling wolf ghost or something equally as terrifying lurking in the basement.
That said, weird things tend to happen to me…a lot. So much so that it’s earned me the title of “ghost magnet” among some of my most well-traveled friends. I’ve felt my hair tugged in an empty wine cellar, watched closed doors opening all on their own, and woken up to the feeling of needles going into my feet in a historic hotel that was once a super sketchy hospital.
Although I’m more likely to believe that haunted hotels are just old buildings settling into their foundations rather than actual avenues for apparitions, it’s hard not to admit that there are some spooky things happening out there. In fact, after staying at some of the most haunted hotels in the world, I may finally be turning into a believer. Here’s what happened.
Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton, Alberta
PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL
I was in high school when my family and I made the trip up to Glacier National Park, crossing the Canadian border to spend the night at the Prince of Wales Hotel. The hotel opened in 1927, looking like a cross between an alpine lodge and a fairy tale castle from its perch overlooking a pristine mountain lake.
Like many historic hotels, the rooms are a bit small at the Prince of Wales, so our group decided to split up; my sister, my mom, and I sharing one room, and my dad and my sister’s boyfriend sharing another. The entire hotel gave off a very “The Shining” vibe, but I was so taken by the stunning views and super old elevator (one of Canada’s first!) that I missed the tour in the lobby where they warned my mom and older sister about the alleged happenings in our room. We went to bed that night with our window open, letting the cool mountain air flow through the room, but I woke up just a few hours later in a pool of sweat.
I am not typically a hot sleeper, but that night I remember feeling like I was on fire I was so hot. My sister switched places with me in our bed, and the two of us slept soundly (and cooly) the rest of the night. In the morning my sister was already awake, staring at me with excited eyes before yelling, “He was cooking you! The ghost was cooking you last night!”
Unbeknownst to me, we had unintentionally booked the room where, legend has it, a jealous chef had caught his wife flirting with another staff member and murdered her in room 608 before fleeing the scene. Strange things tend to happen in that room—as well as in many of the other rooms at the hotel, namely rooms 510 and 516 where a mysterious woman in white likes to toy with the locks—but that night there’s no denying the heat I felt just two inches from where my sister slept, perfectly chill. Wonky ventilation maybe?
1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when my husband and I checked into this Ozark Mountain hotel. The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is well-known to be the most haunted hotel in America. It’s also one of the most beautiful in my opinion, and we had arrived in fall, when the leaves transform the entire town of Eureka Springs into a fall dreamscape.
The hotel opened in 1886 as “America’s most luxurious resort hotel,” but quickly fell into hard times, briefly becoming a women’s college before landing in the hands of Norman Baker. Baker, a man with zero medical training, opened a cancer center claiming he alone had the cure. He told his patients to, “Just call me doctor,” before performing excruciating “treatments” and injecting them with toxic elixirs.
He was eventually found out and the hotel reopened in the 1940s, where it now offers ghost tours of the hotel that wind through the hotel before ending in Norman Baker’s former “morgue.” Jittery after our tour, my husband mentioned he saw a woman in a white Victorian gown disappear down the hall, but he quickly dismissed the image as weird lighting in the hotel.
Unsure of whether to be scared or just creeped out from the real-life horror stories we’d just heard, we tossed around in bed for hours before finally falling asleep. Just a few hours later I woke up with a scream. “Ow! What was that? Ow! OW!” It felt like needles were going into my feet and it wasn’t until my husband woke up and grabbed me that the sensation stopped. We reasoned away that maybe a nerve got pinched, but I’ve never felt anything like that before or since. Temporary paresthesia? Maybe?
Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
I had no idea this hotel was nicknamed “Apparition Manor” when my family checked in back in the late 1990s. I was more excited about the teddy bears that lined the lobby, a nod to the hotel’s alleged role in creating the first stuffed bear for then-Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt while he was staying at the Hotel Colorado.
All the rooms were booked that night except for the Roosevelt Suite, which the bellman was quick to warn us about, listing off possible reasons it may be haunted, none of which had anything to do with its most famous former resident. We settled in for the night after a day spent soaking in the hot springs, my sister and I on a pullout sofa in the living room and my parents in the main bedroom. Around 1 p.m. we woke up to the smoke alarm going off. My dad called maintenance, and they came to replace the batteries, and left us in our silent room.
Not even 10 minutes later, it began going off again. This time maintenance brought a new smoke alarm, installed it, and once again left us in our quiet space. Five minutes passed and soon the siren was blaring once again throughout the room. The maintenance man returned with more batteries, but when he took out the used batteries, the beeping never ceased. He looked at my dad defeated and then back up at the smoke alarm and yelled, “That’s enough!” The beeping stopped. He put the new batteries in, and we all slept the rest of the night in peace and quiet. Could it have just been faulty wiring?
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
My husband and I had come to the White Mountains for the fall scenery, excited to show our toddler one of the last remaining “grand resorts” of America. The Omni Mount Washington Resort was built by 250 Italian artisans back in 1902, just a year before owner Joseph Stickney died and his wife took over.
It’s said that Carolyn Stickney has yet to check out of her former bedroom, now suite 314, and other ghostly figures and orbs have been reported flickering the lights and playing with the plumbing throughout the upper floors. Thankfully our room was on the first floor, but not so thankfully we had an ill toddler on our hands. We swapped our dinner reservations for take-out from the resort’s Main Dining Room, and the scariest part of the evening involved me walking through the lobby and hallway carrying a steak dinner in one hand and a giant steak knife in the other as I made my way back to the room. That is, until I decided to end the night with a hot bath. I exited the full tub with the drain still plugged and began drying off when I noticed the water was starting to drain on its own. Maybe I pulled the drain on my way out by accident?
Daniels House Bed and Breakfast, Salem, Massachusetts
I’m a true hotel nerd, so the chance to stay at the oldest bed and breakfast in the United States was like meeting a favorite author or dining in a celebrity chef’s restaurant. The building dates back to 1667, when it was built by a Salem sea captain, and has changed hands over the years many times before the current owners purchased the property and restored the home and reopened it as the Daniels House Bed and Breakfast.
If the walls could talk, they’d tell some insane stories (re: this house was central to everything during the Salem Witch Trials), which is why the owners brought in a local historian to host house tours and fireside storytelling sessions.
My husband and I sat at a grand table in the center of the parlor with our son while candles flickered around us and set the mood. Historian Vijay Joyce read from an ancient diary and helped paint a picture for what life was like for the early settlers. We made our way to the original kitchen as Joyce recanted stories that spanned the home’s history, pointing to the superstitious markings above the fireplace and letting us peek into the creepy dark cellar before we returned to our Great Room accommodations for the night.
I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, making sure to shut the heavy wooden door behind me before heading back to bed. Just before I drifted back to sleep, the door creaked open all on its own. My heart pounded despite my disbelief in ghosts, yet I still found myself closing my eyes with the intention of not wanting to be proven wrong.
The next morning my husband exited the restroom and shut the door behind him, only to watch the door reopen moments later once again, reassuring me that it was just an old house and not a haunted inn. I mean, beams shift, right?
Culloden House Hotel, Inverness, Scotland
CULLODEN HOUSE HOTEL
Parts of the hotel date back to the 16thcentury, when it stood as a Jacobean castle, but the house is best known for its role in the Battle of Culloden during the Jacobite uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie commandeered the house prior to the battle, and the grounds were quickly bloodied just three days later during the infamous fight.
Many injured Highlanders were brought to the home and executed onsite after the battle, and it’s said that Bonnie Prince Charlie himself continues to march the halls of this hotel along with his fallen men. Fireplaces roared around us as we left the dining room after an indulgent meal, and my husband and I settled into a sofa directly in view of the fire in the drawing room with our matching glasses of whisky.
The vibe was cozy, so cozy in fact that my husband nodded off in the middle of a story he was telling me. I woke him (and yes, made fun of him) and, with glasses unfinished, we headed upstairs to our room and placed both the glasses on my nightstand. In the middle of the night, I heard footsteps in our room and looked over to see my husband sleeping soundly. I scanned the room with the light from my phone and saw no one, but when I went to put my phone back on the nightstand, I noticed it had been cleared. In the morning we found the glasses on the desk, just a few steps away from our bed. Either I forgot I moved them or maybe my husband sleepwalks?