Where better to stay on Halloween night than a hotel with a resident ghost? In fact, if you’re into that type of thing any time is pretty good if you’re after spectres of nuns, monks, children and even Sir Walter Raleigh – all been spotted at some of the UK’s top five-star getaways.
Our friends at britainsfinest.co.uk decided to investigate a little further and find the ten best hotels with a spooky secret…
1. Lumley Castle Hotel
There is said to be two ghosts at Lumley castle, Lily Lumley who was the 14th Century Lady of the manor and who was murdered by priests when she refused to follow the catholic faith. She has been seen in rooms and corridors. Also Black Jack (who sounds like a spirit from Harry Potter) as he likes to play mischievous tricks on the guests, knocking over glasses full of wine for example. In addition there have been reports of strange sounds of children screaming and laughing coming from the top floor.
2. Chillingham Castle
Putting the ‘chill’ in Chillingham are a ‘spook’ (great word for a group of ghosts), including the Blue Boy, whose screams some guests are said to hear emanating from a wall in the pink room (to up the goose-bump factor a child’s bones were discovered there in the 1920s). There’s also the ghost of Lady Mary; the white pantry ghost, a frail white lady begging for water; voices in the chapel (even when it’s empty) and eerie figures seen flitting around the courtyard at night. To make the most of this over-haunted escape, book a night in a four-poster and a place on one of the castle’s excellent ghost tours, which last two hours ‘depending on psychic activity’.
3. Ettington Park
Stunning Neo-Gothic mansion close to Stratford, which featured in 1963 film The Haunting. If you hear the click of billiard balls and male voices coming from the library, it might not be other guests – the room is said to be haunted and there have even been reports of flying books. During a night here there’s also a chance you’ll meet Mary, a servant girl who died from a fall, or bump into two child ghosts who haunt a corridor.
4. The Old Bell Hotel
The east wing of this pretty hotel, one of the oldest in England, was built on an adjacent ruined abbey’s graveyard, which might account for why there have been so many hair-raising incidents reported, such as a grey lady who makes a regular appearance in the James Ody room. Guests have also had belongings thrown across their room, bedclothes removed in the middle of the night and even a heavy wardrobe being wedged behind a door so guests were locked out – sounds suspiciously like stag party antics…
5. Eastwell Manor Hotel
You’d expect a hotel that dates back to the Norman Conquest is to have a few ghosts and ghouls and this grand former royal residence is no exception. A horseman riding towards the house and then veering off and disappearing into a nearby lake is one regular sighting, a white lady, eerily appearing before porters on the night shift, is another unexpected guest. Rest assured, if things get a little too spine chilling, there’s always the hotel’s Pavilion Leisure Spa to recover in the following day.
6. Amberley Castle
If you get goose bumps late night whilst staying at this spectacular 900-year-old Relais & Chateaux Medieval castle, it’s probably the presence of Emily, a young girl who jumped to her death from the battlements after falling pregnant by the resident bishop. Gulp. Apparently the spooky vibes are strongest in the castle’s Herstmonceux Room, which has access to the battlements, but she seems to steer clear of the tennis courts, heli pad and award-winning restaurant. Phew
7. Coombe Abbey Hotel
There are so many ghosts at this beautiful 12th century former monastery, this hotel has a monthly ghost walk and supper event, which includes a tour, stories and two-course dinner and wine in the Stuart Room, which is, naturally, haunted. The most famous ghost at Coombe is Abbott Geoffrey, a hooded monk who has been seen gliding around the grounds and was allegedly murdered there in 1345 (though a ghost called Geoff is a little less terrifying). If you check in here, you may also hear the footsteps on cobbles near the stables, which are said to be those of Matilda, a gypsy girl made pregnant by the master of the house who refused to acknowledge it was his – the child was still-born and she laid down a curse on the household.
8. Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel & Spa
This 700-year-old mansion house is the setting for a tragic love story – Lucette, an unlucky in love French governess wooed one Christmas then jilted by a dashing army officer. Unable to get over him, she threw herself off a bridge into a river. Lucette has been spotted all over the hotel and she’s even said to have shown up in photographs, though no mention of her popping up in the spa or on the golf course, so at least some of your relaxing break will be haunt-free.
9. The Haycock
It’s claimed that Mary, Queen of Scots has been spotted at this charming hotel, which overlooks a bridge crossing the River Nene. Why would she be haunting a 16th century former coaching inn? Well, records show she stayed here en route to her execution at Fotheringhay Castle (she’s said to haunt other places she stayed at on the journey too). In addition to her royal scariness, guests have also reported seeing apparitions in public areas and feeling ‘that someone else is in the room with them’, and they’re not talking about their other half.
10. ABode Exeter
Hard to believe a hotel this contemporary (slick beige and cream bedrooms, Champagne & cocktail bar, hip Michael Caines restaurant) has a ghost. However research reveals it’s built on the site of Sir Walter Raleigh’s father’s house and the noises guests occasionally hear in empty rooms are supposedly made by the ghost of the famous explorer. In addition there are reports of spectres of a nun and monk outside the cathedral, music emanating from the building (even when it’s locked and dark) and, a little less believable, a three-headed creature in the cathedral grounds.