Could you spend a night in a real haunted house? These spooky spots weren’t built to scare trick-or-treaters on Halloween, but through real-life tragedy and fantastical storytelling they’ve become some of the world’s most terrifying destinations. If you’ve got the nerve to make the trip to one of these authentic haunted houses, you might find yourself mingling with a genuine ghost.
Ballygally Castle – Ballygally Bay, Ireland
Ballygally Castle was built in 1625 by James Shaw, who promptly locked away his wife, Lady Isobel Shaw, and let her starve to death. Today, the wronged wife haunts guests of the castle turned hotel, knocking on doors and then vanishing. Another ghost known as Madame Nixon wanders the halls in a silk dress. The souls of soldiers also roam the grounds outside. Some visiting mediums have reported identifying more ghosts than guests spending the night at the hotel.
Rose Hall – Montego Bay, Jamaica
Annie Palmer moved into Rose Hall in 1820 and quickly became known for her barbaric treatment of slaves. The locals said she was a Black witch who tortured and killed slaves and murdered three husbands. Today, the Rose Hall Great House is a popular tourist attraction believed to be haunted by Annie’s many victims. Visitors try to capture evidence of the haunting on camera, and many claim to have seen blood splatters around the house.
The White House – Washington D.C., USA
America’s First Home is believed to be haunted by prestigious guests: past presidents. President Harrison rummages around the attic, Andrew Jackson hangs out in his old bedroom, and former First Lady Abigail Adams wanders the halls. The most frequently spotted spirit is Abraham Lincoln, who has been reported greeting guests in bedrooms and contemplating the problems of the world in the Oval Office.
The Queen Mary – Long Beach, California, USA
While not technically a haunted house, this luxury cruise liner is one of the most famous haunted spots in America. The ship is currently a hotel where voices of invisible children can be heard near the pool. Dead sailors, guests say, bang pipes in the engine room and the screams of another ghost are heard in the front hull. Furniture reportedly moves unassisted, and visitors claim to feel the touch of unseen hands.
The Bell Farm – Adams, Tennessee, USA
While other ghosts rattle doors and move furniture, the one at Bell Farm is believed to have killed a man, the only such documented case in history. A ghost known as Kate terrorized the residents of Bell Farm from 1817 to 1821, causing extreme distress for John Bell. Mr. Bell was found dead one day beside a vile of black liquid, which Kate claimed to have given him. According to the legend, the mysterious liquid was tested on the family cat, which also promptly died. In 2005, the story of the Bell Farm haunting became the movie An American Haunting.
Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, Colorado, USA
Another haunted house that’s gained Hollywood attention, the Stanley Hotel inspired Stephen King’s The Shining. The author claimed that he heard ghost children playing in the hallway during a night he spent in room 217. Other guests have heard music in the ballroom and seen a piano play itself. Despite King’s terrifying tale, employees promise that the hotel’s many ghosts are mostly friendly.
The Skirrid Inn – Llanfihangel Crucorney, Wales
Guests checking into the Skirrid Inn must be comfortable with a gruesome past: nearly 200 people have been hanged from a beam on the staircase in the last 900 years. Today’s visitors can even see the rope marks left behind. Evidence of ghosts ranges from faces in the windows and glasses flying across the room to people feeling a noose tightening around their neck.
Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh, Scotland
More than a haunted house, this is a ghostly castle in one of Europe’s spookiest cities. A phantom piper and headless drummer fill the air with music, while prisoners from the Seven Years War and the American Revolutionary War appear to castle visitors. Dead people aren’t the only things seen at Edinburgh Castle, however; rumor has it ghost dogs have been seen sniffing around the cemetery.
Matilda House – Punggol, Singapore
Built by an Irish lawyer in 1902 as a weekend resort for his family, the once grand home is now mostly dilapidated ruins surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. That doesn’t seem to keep the ghosts away. It’s believed that evil spirits moved into the empty house and would try to kill anyone who dared to enter. Perhaps that’s why no one has lived on the estate since the ’70s.
LaLaurie House – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Madame LaLaurie was a New Orleans socialite in the early 1800s, but a fire at her French Quarter mansion revealed a cruel secret. The bodies of mutilated slaves were pulled from the ashes; the resulting scandal caused the family to flee the city. The ghosts of tortured slaves and servants, however, stayed behind and have been haunting the stately home for centuries. Numerous owners, including actor Nicolas Cage, have bought and later abandoned the house over years, often sighting unexplained events as the reason for the change of heart.