The scent of pumpkin spice fills the air. Costumes, novelty props and sweets begin to adorn supermarket shelves. Cheesy horror flicks prepare for release in cinemas. This can only mean one thing – October is upon us and Halloween is quickly approaching! Don’t have plans this October 31st? Here are ten of the world’s most haunted hostels where you can spend the spookiest night of the year!
10. Glenmalure Hostel, County Wicklow, Ireland
Kicking off our list is Glenmalure Hostel. Found in a rural Irish valley, this unsuspecting dwelling is truly cut off from the modern world, with no running water, electricity or phone reception. If the thought of going without social media for more than a few hours doesn’t scare you, maybe the ghosts of Glenmalure will!
This haunted hostel dates back to 1904 and has strong connections to the historic valley it sits in. The building has survived through the love and care that volunteer wardens put into its maintenance – the same wardens who claim to have interacted with the resident ghost nicknamed ‘Scary Mary’. It’s said that Mary has touched some wardens and even moved possessions around their rooms *gulps*.
Does sharing a room with a ghost make you nervous? Maybe a nice, relaxing hike will put you at ease? Perhaps not at Glenmalure though, where haunted hiking trails are the star attraction. Legend has it that the 700 soldiers who died in the 16th century Battle of Glenmalure still haunt the valley, and several hikers have reported seeing apparitions around the trails…
@amyscrypt – Glenmalure Hostel
9. Hostel Celica, Ljubljana, Slovenia
In the spookiest corner of Ljubljana lies an intriguing, unique and downright frightening hostel. Hostel Celica is a striking feat of architecture created from what was once a Yugoslavian Army Prison. The building’s history as a jail dates back to the late 1800s and its walls have many a story to tell.
Converted cells are now hostel bedrooms, which are assigned to guests at random just as they were designated to inmates. The hostel has retained some of the darkest underground solitary confinement cells in their original condition, which now operate as a museum that educates and shocks visitors. Those who spend the night here must be brave enough to come face to face with the unexplained. Listen out for disembodied voices and footsteps echoing through the empty corridors beyond your cell door. Of course, it could just be kicking out time at the local pubs, but we’ll leave that for you to figure out.
8. Burg Hostel, Sighișoara, Romania
Burg Hostel operates out of one of the oldest buildings on this list. Built in the 17th century, this eerie Romanian complex has been updated with modern amenities without losing any of its historic character. Though its age might make guests wary of a ghost or two, Burg Hostel doesn’t claim to be haunted – in fact it’s the hostel’s creepy surroundings that have earned it a position on this list.
This humble dwelling can be found in the small Romanian town of Sighișoara, where cobblestone streets and centuries old homes set the perfect scene for a Transylvanian vampire tale. Not surprising, when you learn that Sighișoara was actually the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler – the real-life inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This ruthless Romanian warlord gained infamy during the 1400s for his bloodthirst and penchant for impaling his victims. The Burg Hostel sits in close proximity to Vlad’s old family home and former prison, so be sure to keep your windows closed at night…
@amyscrypt – Burg Hostel
7. Langholmens Vandrarhem, Stockholm, Sweden
When choosing to stay in a former prison turned hostel, be sure to consider that things might go bump in the night…
This ex-jail was Sweden’s answer to Alcatraz. Langholmens Vandrarhem is situated on a lonely island overlooking the incredible city of Stockholm. And it’s from this island that the hostel has been scaring tourists for years!
Since the opening of the Crown Remand Prison (Kronohäktet) in the early 1800s, the island has been notorious and synonymous with terror. This Prison operated until 1975 and despite being long closed, it is believed to have left behind traces of paranormal energy – yikes! Today, retro-fit, comfortable cells are available at an affordable rate – but only to those brave enough to spend a night on lockdown.
6. USA Hostels, San Diego, USA
In the 18th century, business was flourishing in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Brothels were in high demand and saw many seedy characters pass through their doors. Experts in the occult believe that it’s common for paranormal energy to become trapped in this type of establishment. USA Hostels in San Diego is no stranger to this belief, having earned quite the haunted reputation.
Over the years guests have claimed to experience the unexplainable; most commonly seeing lights turn on and off and feeling freezing cold air push past them – did anyone else just shiver? It doesn’t stop there though, as many have even reported being grabbed at during the night by an unseen hand and hearing disembodied voices and loud bangs from their dormitory rooms. These bangs are said to begin underneath the beds before spreading to the walls and ceiling. Such claims have led to the hostel becoming a popular destination for ghost hunters, so if you’re hoping to encounter some restless spirits USA Hostels could be a good bet!
USA Hostels, San Diego
5. Fremantle Prison YHA, Fremantle, Australia
Oh look, another former prison has made its way onto our list – and by now you won’t be surprised to hear about the spooky goings-on at Fremantle YHA.
Built in the 1850s and still holding prisoners until the early 1990s, the Fremantle Prison has a dark and bloody past which included executions by hanging. One that stands out is the spine-tingling case of Martha Rendell. The only woman ever to be executed in the state of Western Australia, Martha Rendell was hung in 1909 for the murder of her own stepson and the suspected poisoning of her other two stepchildren.
And guess what – her spirit is said to remain at the old Fremantle Prison. There have been many reported sightings of her ghostly figure around the hostel. Other spirits have apparently made themselves known too, via illuminated orbs of light and full or partial body apparitions.
If you do spot one of these ghostly inmates don’t forget to report back to hostel staff, who’ve been busy recording and documenting this strange phenomenon as it occurs.
4. Newcastle Beach YHA, New South Wales, Australia
Newcastle Beach YHA holds fond memories for some of its former occupants. Could this be why the dead refuse to leave – even after the 11am checkout time? This cosy little hostel started off life as a gentleman’s club, but was later donated to its neighbouring hospital during WWII to offer medical treatment and help with wartime efforts.
Since being reincarnated as a hostel, staff have received multiple accounts from creeped out guests who have awoken at 3am in Room 10. They claim to have witnessed a ghostly nurse float across the room and open the balcony door before disappearing through its doorway. Some have even claimed she had a frightening feline companion! Other sightings include that of an older man sporting a black top hat – all of which seem rather fitting given the building’s colourful past. Any ghost-hunting backpackers should request Room 10 for the best chance of an other-worldly encounter.
Newcastle Beach YHA
3. Jailhouse Accommodation Hostel, Christchurch, New Zealand
Okay, there’s definitely a pattern forming here. You turn a prison into a hostel, it’s likely to be haunted – a trend which the Jailhouse Accommodation Hostel in Christchurch continues.
Now a modernized, sleek hostel displaying beautiful works of art, it’s difficult to imagine the bleakness of this space when it operated as the Addington Prison. Some spirits who linger within the former prison’s walls haven’t forgotten their poor living conditions however, and many have remained trapped in the confines of the prison they perished in. Or so legend has it, anyway.
Hostel staff and guests alike claim to have come into contact with such spirits. Reports have been made of mysterious figures appearing, clothing being tugged by invisible forces, whispers from empty rooms and feelings of being watched. Jailhouse Accommodation could be one of the most haunted hostels on this list – perfect for those with nerves of steel.
Jailhouse Accommodation Hostel
2. The Pirate Haus Hostel, St Augustine, USA
Many cite St Augustine as the oldest city in the United States and the most haunted, having had ample time to accumulate ghostly inhabitants.
The aptly named Pirate Haus Hostel is located close to the Old Spanish Treasury, which was famously raided by a band of pirates in 1668. During this raid, it’s told that a woman by the name of Estefania ran from her house in fear, clutching her baby sister in her arms. When pirates proceeded to shoot their pistols at Estefania, her baby sister was killed. Some say that the home Estafania ran from was – you guessed it – where the Pirate Haus Hostel stands today.
Could this story have contributed to the vast reports of paranormal activity from within this supposedly haunted hostel? Suspicions of poltergeist activity are rife, with claims of items being violently thrown from shelves. Other accounts include sightings of blue orbs of light in Room 6, so be sure to request this one if you’re after a fright.
The Pirate Haus Hostel
1. HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ottawa, Canada
Following the common theme of this post, you probably could have predicted that our number one most haunted hostel would be in an old prison. The HI Ottawa Jail Hostel is considered one of the creepiest places in Canada, and is in fact the world’s most haunted hostel!
The old Ottawa Jail was a notoriously bleak institution – quite the contrast to the vibrant hostel it is today. Prisoners were cut off from all social interactions and crammed into small, dark cells. Murder and executions were a day to day occurrence in the jail where many men, women and children met the end of their days.
This chequered past is said to have left its mark on the building. Many people who have entered say that they became overwhelmed with sadness, fear, and anger. Others have even claimed to see figures hovering at the end of their beds. Most reports of paranormal activity have come from the former solitary confinement cells, death row and the former gallows. One of the hostel’s most legendary ghosts is that of Patrick James Whelan, a prisoner who was publicly hanged in 1869 and who’s ghost many claim to have spotted lurking around the premises.
HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
So, is the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel the most haunted in the world, or have you stayed somewhere even spookier? Let us know your Halloween hostel recommendations for backpacking ghost-hunters to hit up this October!
About the author:
Amy is an experienced traveller, seeking out the world’s most haunted and spooky locations and sharing their ghost stories along the way. Find Amy on Instagram or explore more ghostly locations on her blog.