For most of us, the worst hotel we've ever stayed in just had dirty sheets, no hot water or subpar customer service. But have you ever stayed in a truly bad hotel? One where scorpions crawl in your bed, hotel staff try to break in and you wake up in the middle of the night to find a man sitting on your bed? You may want to turn on all of the lights. These creepy hotels will make The Shining look like child's play.
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#1 Creepy Calls
In 1996 while air-drying after a shower lying on my hotel bed in Beijing with the curtains drawn, I received a call demanding I put on clothes.
#2 Deadly Insecticide
We found a hotel in Yangon (Burma) the day we got there for pretty cheap. They mentioned the rates were low because maintenance was being done on several floors. We sleep fine, wake up and head to breakfast. At breakfast, we met some Germans who had also stayed the night in our hotel. They said they had not slept well because during the middle of the night, someone woke them up to move them from the floor they were on.
We (us and the Germans) found out later that they had been moved because they were on one of the levels reserved for maintenance, and part of the maintenance included gassing the rooms for bugs. During the middle of the night, they were just going around the rooms shoving the gas nozzle or whatever under the doors and letting them run. They wound up killing the two people next to the Germans before they realized they’d accidentally booked people on that floor. We weren’t on that floor thankfully but it has always stuck with me how seemingly easy it could’ve been to have gotten mixed up in that.
#3 Phantom Turd
I toured around in bands a lot in my twenties, and not once but twice I came back to my hotel room to find a turd in my shower. I was the only person with a key to the room. One was in Germany and one was in Belgium. Two years apart, completely separate tour and crew.
#4 Back Off, Man
When I was 12, my family took a vacation to Europe. At our hotel in Rome, there was this amazing indoor pool, and being a child of my age, I would have spent the entire vacation there if I could. During one such swimming excursion, some random gentleman, I think probably around 40-something, comes over to me and starts tickling my feet.
My mother is with me, but is preoccupied with one of my other siblings. He speaks English as well and starts teasing me for being ticklish and telling me how I’m “simply adorable.” Through my giggles, I keep shyly asking him to stop. He doesn’t and just keeps teasing me and touching my feet and lower legs. This went on for maybe two minutes tops before my mom sees what’s happening and goes into super protective mode and tells him to back off.
#5 Car Thief
I once witnessed a thief breaking into cars in the parking lot from my hotel room window. I called the front desk and they had security go outside with a big stick. We had the bird’s eye view as this security officer is searching for the thief and the thief is evading him. Unfortunately, the thief got away in his vehicle.
#6 Leave The Hotel
When I was 12, I was staying in a motel with my mom on a road trip. We were in the middle of nowhere in Texas at a motel that had a decent rating in our guidebook and was really cheap, so we went for it. In the middle of the night, the owner knocked on the door and told us we had to leave because he wanted the room for someone else. My mom was outside arguing with him while I was gathering our things, and I was terrified because I heard him start yelling.
I looked out the window and saw about half a dozen bikers in vests appear out of nowhere (maybe a nearby room?) and start confronting the owner. My mom came inside quickly and we watched them start harassing the guy, things like “she’s paid to be here. You’re gonna let her stay tonight! We don’t want to ever hear stuff like this from you again!” And the owner was saying things like “I don’t want any trouble!”
Everybody left fairly quickly and we didn’t hear anything about it the next day at checkout. We weren’t able to sleep very well because we were so shaken up, but it was better than getting in the car again. Thank you, anonymous biker gang.
#7 Neck Scorpions
I was in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua last year. There were massive spiders all over the room. I even woke up with a couple of little scorpions in my bed the first morning. The next night, I'm sitting at the bar, drinking and chatting with a mate and I feel a tickle on the back of my neck and think it's a mosquito or something. I brush the back of my neck and another scorpion, this time way bigger, plops on the ground at my feet. I stared at it for a moment in shock, squealed, squashed it and kept drinking.
#8 It's On Fire
I arrive at a secluded, coastal hotel south of Marmaris Turkey around 2 a.m. When the taxi pulls up to the hotel... it’s on fire. When the owner, standing out front sees us he opens the taxi door excitedly, “You come. I have nice room for you!” I point out that the hotel is on fire but he simply gestures and says “Small fire. No problem. You come.” I. Am. Utterly. Exhausted.
I find myself following the owner into the hotel, stepping over fire hoses, waving away smoke, passing firefighters as they run up and down a very nice staircase. We pause at the second-floor landing and the owner tells me, “See. Fire only on this side of hotel. This side no fire. You come.” My exhaustion removes every ounce of common sense and I follow him to a room down the hall. The room is indeed fire-free.
I quickly scan the in-case-of-fire message on the back of the door, checked the window escape, and promptly pass out with my gear and boots on. In the morning I awake (alive) wondering if I dreamt the entire thing. I go down the smokey stairs past the charred other side of the hotel. The owner is so happy to see me (still alive) that he eats breakfast with me. I went back a few years later and the hotel had fully recovered.
#9 Post-War Home
If you're going to Japan and booking with Airbnb, make sure it isn't one of those tiny post-war era homes. I booked one like that last year when I went to Kyoto. It was the quietest neighborhood I've ever been to, and it was a second home that the owner leased out so I was the only tenant for my three-night stay.
EVERYTHING was plywood, and because it was in a quiet little neighborhood it felt like there wasn't anyone else for miles around. My room was lit by a single lightbulb haphazardly hanging from a ceiling that flickered occasionally like in a cheap b-horror movie. Any movement caused creaks and bumps, and the cold air made those happen constantly around me as the plywood expanded and contracted through the day. I'm just lucky the Grudge didn't come out of the TV during my stay.
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#10 It Was All A Dream... Right?
I once stayed in a B&B which had a shared bathroom. The first night I got up at probably like 2 a.m. and I was bursting for a pee. The bathroom was down the hallway, not too far but seemed like such an effort in my tired state. I get to the bathroom and open the door and there was this guy just standing in the bathroom, dressed head to toe in a mime costume. Face painted and everything.
He was squatted down on the floor but his trousers were still up. I looked at him for a second, he gave me a wave with a smile and began just silently pushing. I just ran back to my room, locked the door and decided to pee in a bottle. I'm still not sure if I was just really tired and seeing things or something, it's seriously the strangest thing I've ever seen.
#11 Interrupting The Neighbors
I went to a hotel and arrived at night. My brother and I went to check out the pool and whatnot and he started to chase me pretending to throw me into the pool, so I freaked out and ran to our room. My brother was like, “Noooo that’s not our room,” and I busted in (the room was either open or unlocked) and saw two people getting intimate. They sort of froze seeing a little five-year-old boy stare at and nope right outta there. To that poor couple I accidentally interrupted I’m so sorry, I legit thought it was my room and didn’t mean to intrude I hope I didn’t ruin your night.
#12 Secret Door
I stayed in a B&B in Pennsylvania that seemed cute enough. They did have a wall of antique dolls in the main room but otherwise, no signs of weirdness. That's until we were settled in the room. I noticed some scratches on the floor near a bookcase and after some inspection, realized it was a secret door. When I asked the owner, who gave a creepy vibe if it worked he said yes, and showed me that it opened to their office (which was a cluttered room with a computer and piles of useless stuff).
It had a lock on their side and when I asked if there was a lock on my side he smiled and said "no." When I showed some concern that there was an unlockable entrance to my room that was camouflaged that they didn't tell me about, he just kept smiling. So that night I didn't do anything for fear of cameras, barricaded the door and barely slept.
#13 Being Watched
Staying in a North Korean hotel was nerve-racking. You have the distinct feeling of being watched, even when the power went out.
#14 This Guy Should Be Reported
Did the couchsurfing.com thing with a friend a few years ago. We are both big guys so typically feel safe everywhere we go. We show up at the house and a 60-year-old guy opens the door while on the phone. He's only wearing sweat pants. He signals for us to enter. He continues his conversation and ends with an I love you. He turns to us and says welcome, and apologizes for being on the phone.
He starts talking about his girlfriend, who he was talking with, and how she lives overseas. He mentions he has several girlfriends and boasts about being a ladies man. He then starts to show us pictures. These girls looked like they were 14. While sliding through the pics, he accidentally showed us one of their passports. This weirded us out a lot.
We were early twenties and didn't really know what to do, so we said we were tired and wanted to sleep. He walked us to the room while rubbing his belly. He told us he would make breakfast in the morning. We decided to sleep the night, but leave before he woke up. My friend slept on the bedroom door so he couldn't sneak in. We got up super early and bolted. We got super weird vibes from the guy and just felt gross and weird about the whole thing.
#15 TV Ghost
My mom went to this hotel where the TV would turn on by itself a few times a day as well as doors closing in her room. It was a big room that had stairs in it. Somewhere in Montauk, NY.
#16 Spiders Everywhere
In Mexico, my girlfriend and I stayed a night in a hut in the jungle. No running water, no electricity. As we are from central Europe, we are not used to dangerous wildlife (spider, scorpions, etc.). There was a beautiful cenote near by and at some point, it rained like crazy. The daytime was amazing. The night, not so much.
In our hut was a bed with a mosquito net with huge holes in it. It was pitch black in the hut as we laid down and got comfortable trying to sleep. I felt a bit creeped out and decided to check the hut for insects with my phone's flashlight. Bad idea. There were hundreds of big spiders all over the walls and ceiling. Not a good night's sleep.
#17 Someone Was There
My spouse and I stayed at a massive hotel complex which consisted of one hotel that bought almost every other hotel around it. We bought the online special and were put in one of the ancient acquisitions. There was this odd 4x4 piece of plywood that was hanging down from the ceiling just enough so it felt like someone could watch you through the crack but you couldn't see in it. We hung up the do not disturb sign and went to tourist around. We came back and the TV was on at maximum volume. We left and returned again and the shower curtain had fallen down. Good thing it was only a one night stay... that room just had the feeling of someone there.
#18 Shady Hotel Staff
I was traveling out of the country right after finishing up a huge five-day work event where I had about 10 hours of sleep total during the five days. I got to the motel, which is kind of run down and the carpet and blankets are damp but I’m so exhausted I don’t even really think about it.
I fall asleep pretty much immediately. At maybe 11 p.m. or so, I get a call from the motel phone saying there’s been a complaint about noise. I tell them that’s impossible, I’ve been sleeping. They ask me if maybe it’s someone else in the room and I tell them nope, I’m here alone so there’s definitely no one else making noise. They ask me again if I’m sure I’m by myself and not causing any noise. I say yes again. Fall back asleep immediately.
When I woke up and thought about it some more, I realize how weird the entire interaction was. There was absolutely no noise I could hear anywhere nearby and I don’t know why the motel staff would need to clarify so many times that I was alone. Apparently they never called. So I assume it must’ve been someone calling the different rooms to see who was in the rooms and how many people. I’ve never been so glad to always use the extra latch chain lock.
#19 Door To Nowhere
When I was a kid, my parents and I drove from Missouri to Kentucky to visit relatives. Well, we stayed at one creepy motel in the Appalachian mountains somewhere (probably Kentucky). There was this odd 3'x3' square cabinet door set into the wall above the toilet in the bathroom. I stood up on the toilet seat to open it... and it opened into complete darkness to the outside (it was night). No window, no screen... nothing but open air. I stayed awake all night.
#20 Nightmare B&B
While in the isles of Scotland, we stayed in a B&B. It was owned by a couple. The bedrooms were extremely well done and beautiful, but on everything there were signs to not "touch." To use the shower, you would have to ask the couple and the internet ended at 11 p.m. The woman would also check on everyone at random times in the night. We would hear creeping in the hallway to make sure "everyone was sleeping" and not doing any illegal things like using the internet.
When we checked out of her B&B, she came into our room and said that we "stunk," and opened the window to prove this and demanded for money immediately. Another traveller was kicked out of the B&B because the checkout time was 10 a.m., and they were forced to stand outside (she wouldn't even let them stay inside) in the thunderstorm while their taxi came. Another traveller had to get a check (we were in an isolated place) to pay for the room and she took their bags and wouldn't give them back. But on the way out... she asked everyone if they enjoyed their stay!
#21 Should've Been Arrested
My girlfriend works as a TV commercial producer and often travels to South America (mainly Argentina). One night, she woke up at around 3 a.m. to find a male hotel employee standing at the foot of her bed staring at her. When they checked the CCTV, he had been doing it for hours that night and for the previous three nights.
#22 Breaking And Entering
Family vacation. It was 1 a.m. My brother and I had just finished watching The Shining on TV. Neither of us had seen it before. We heard someone trying to open our door. No one else was supposed to have keys. Someone tried to swing open the door, but the hotel lock stopped them. They kept trying to open it multiple times, banging the door against the lock. After a few tries, they gave up. The hotel desk clerk accidentally entered the wrong room for their keycards. It was probably the best way I saw The Shining. I can't be scared more than that from that movie.
#23 Where Am I?
I went to sleep in one room, and I swear to god, it felt like I woke up in a completely different room. I didn't know where I was. It was like a surreal alien abduction story. To the reality-of-the-universe's credit, I needed an 11-hour train journey to get there (Aberdeen to Norwich). I was drinking pretty much the whole way there on the train so that probably had a lot to do with it.
#24 Stayed With A Ghost
A friend and I once stayed at a pretty fancy B&B for the night. The lady who owned it was absolutely lovely, but would appear out of nowhere. We’d be sitting alone in a large room with one doorway and suddenly she was in the room with us. Either this joint had secret doors or something really creepy was going on. She seemed to know things that we’d said or done as well. The thing that tripped us out the most was hearing someone trying to open our door during the night. She was super lovely and the building was beautiful, but we were relieved to check out the next morning!
#25 Nowhere To Lock Up
I was working in New Zealand. I ended up at a hostel on the south island and everyone there was just totally insane. The "dorms" they had were actually mini cabins and the psychos in mine insisted that I never lock the doors to it—they would have random people in and out of the cabin all night drinking. There was no place to lock up things like your passport.
#26 Ghosts In The Room
I was staying in Birmingham, AL at a Hyatt. Nothing crazy. Nothing obviously creepy. One night, around 2 a.m., I woke up to a man screaming. Like, stabbed in the heart scream. I sat there in a panic, wondering if I should call someone, but when I didn't hear anything else I chalked it up to a dream.
The next night I woke up around 3 a.m. and had this horrible feeling that someone was in my room. I rolled over and there was an old man, sitting on the AC (it was boxed in), smoking, looking away from me. I stared at him for a few seconds and he turned to look at me. So I shot up out of bed, ready to run, and no one was there. I don't lucid dream. While I have vivid dreams, they are not THAT vivid. I can describe that man to a T, and yet he was never there.
#27 Close Your Eyes
When I was about four, my family was at the resort in St. Kitts. I was swimming with some of the friends I made there. One point during the swim, I found myself in front of her and out of sight of my parents. I don't remember anything leading up to this moment, but I remember her telling me, "Close your eyes and you'll get a big surprise." I did, not knowing any better, and she started hitting the top of my head with her fist and holding me underwater.
Luckily, my mom spotted this happening and stopped it. The woman who tried to drown me had a helper who was supposed to keep an eye on her, but was found sun tanning and not paying any attention at all. My mom lost it on her for not paying attention. This whole thing was more scary than creepy, but it stuck with me ever since.
#28 Survived A Horror Movie
I stayed in a chalet in the state of Maine, Vermont with three others. The lady at the "front desk" was approximately a billion years old with cloudy eyes and her "front desk" was a small table next to a recliner in a room full of knick-knacks and china dolls. The actual room was what I imagine a hotel room in the '40s would look like, and obviously it had never been remodelled.
The bathroom had a metal claw-foot tub. The worst part, though, was the door at the back of the room. I assumed it would be another closet but we opened it and there was nothing but cold and darkness. We used the flashlight on our phones and discovered a long, wide, cement-walled hallway. I assumed it was used to travel between rooms when the weather was bad but the vibe it gave off was making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The night went smoothly and nothing ever happened but I still feel like we survived a night in a boring horror movie. I've tried to look for it again but with no results, I'll have to ask my grandma who booked the trip.
When I was like 14 or 15, I went with my family to Las Vegas and we stayed off the main strip in a two-bedroom suite. It was a smaller casino/hotel. My parents left to go out and enjoy the night while I stayed with my younger siblings. They slept in the bedrooms and I was in the living room watching tv. I think I dozed off at around midnight and when I woke up, I was in a stairwell. Outside of the hotel room. I had no shoes on. I had no cell phone. No room key.
I went to the front office and told them I was locked out of my room and they believed me and gave me a key. I still don't know why I was out there. To this day, I have never sleepwalked. I don't know what happened. Maybe I did sleepwalk, maybe something happened during those hours that I cannot remember. But it was creepy enough for me to share.
#30 Stalker Man
My mom was traveling for work and sat next to a man (a fellow business traveler) on the plane. They had a casual conversation and exchanged business cards. Later that evening she’s in her hotel watching TV and gets a phone call from the front desk that her husband is here and they want to know if they can give him a key to the room. Turns out the creep on the plane was pretending to be her husband to try to get into her room.
#31 Weird Roommates
One of the guys in my cabin seemed especially disturbed. He would randomly make moaning noises while hanging out on the front steps to the cabin. One time he screamed at someone that he was going to hurt them. No one else seemed at all bothered by this.
#32 Disgusting Hotel Staff
In Bangalore, we booked a hotel after 18 hours spent on a night bus. We were very tired and wanted a bed and some food. The boys at the reception were kind of creepy and staring at us all the time but we shrugged it off and went into our room at around 9 in the evening. At around 11, the lights went completely off. I tried to call the reception but the phone was out.
Suddenly, the door handle to our room started moving. I turned on the lantern on my phone and looked at the door—it was slowly opening. My girlfriend screamed and I jumped off the bed, pushing the door back into its place. The person outside was pushing as well so we fought like this for a little while. Then, I locked the door again. Five minutes pass and we hear the noise again. The person outside had a key and now they were opening the door, slowly. It was so creepy, I kept banging on the door shouting "Get out! Help!" We called the police who eventually did nothing. We didn't sleep the whole night.
#33 Lost Key Card
Stayed in New York City recently. A couple of things happened in that room. During the night our spare room key went missing. It was on the desk and we turned that room upside down looking everywhere for it, but never found it. The safe randomly stopped letting us into it. All our cash was there and we were sure of the number. More of an annoyance than creepy but still.
The last one was we got back to the room one night and our card wouldn't work in the door. We went to reception and sorted everything out but when we got up the room was locked from the inside from one of those latches that swing to the side. We had a good fiddle with it once the handyman came up to try and get us in and u cannot fathom how it locked itself. It wasn't a heavy latch but didn't swing on its own.
#34 Spying Through A Hole In The Bathroom
We were booking a hotel. My girlfriend was using the bathroom when she suddenly started screaming. I went in just in time to see a hole in the ceiling and an eye. The person ran immediately and we could hear the footsteps on the roof.
#35 Hammering At Midnight
We've had weirdo neighbors all over the place. Some guy was always arguing with his wife in the middle of the night after prayer time. Another guy would go out in the hallway and work with his hammer on a bench BANG BANG in the middle of the night.
#36 Bed Bugs Everywhere
After our six months of travels, we were really tired of booking cheap and scary places for sleep. I had an accident and was barely moving, so I asked my girlfriend to book the nicest hotel and asked specifically for white sheets. It was my time to shine. So the hotel looked nice, white sheets indeed, the guy at the reception was sleeping in a sleeping bag IN the reception, but whatever. we went to sleep in our white sheets just to wake up hours later COVERED in ticks and bug beds.
#37 Nice Try
We were in Spain and left the town because our dad had to do some work at the library in a neighboring town. We came back late, and the hotel had moved all our stuff (down to the toothbrushes) from one room to a more expensive room, claiming that someone else had a reservation. We claimed bull and started packing. When they realized we were serious, they let us stay in the more expensive room at a lower rate.
#38 Breaking In
I was on a trip around southeast Asia in 2012. I was staying at this hotel/guesthouse thing in Cambodia with my traveling companion. It was the middle of the night, and both of us woke up to the sound of our door handle jiggling. Then the door opened. My friend said something and scared the person off.
To make things even stranger, I got up and locked the door, and both of us just went back to sleep as if nothing happened. I wonder what would have happened if we hadn't heard the person come in... As I said, the door was locked, and we heard the person trying to pick the lock.
#39 Not A Nice Place To Stay
I stayed in an Econolodge in Baltimore once, and the pic from the booking was not the hotel I was in. It was next to an abandoned Red Roof Inn, which was used as a homeless shelter that seemed to have no volunteers and a ton of homeless people. My room smelled like mildew, had cigarette burns on the blanket, and had some friendly rats scampering around.
When I went to the front desk the gentleman handed me a baggie of rat poison and said, "Sprinkle this, they will die." The following morning as I stepped outside to the saving grace that was Dunkin Donuts at the corner and there was a woman peeing in the parking lot, having a conversation with her friends while they were hitting the pipe. The place was the worst. Thought I could be in danger at any moment.
#40 Mental Institution
Checked into a hotel on vacation. Everything was going okay. I woke up one night to erratic movement of the door handle as if someone was trying to get in or break the door down. Always happened in the dead of the night when in deep sleep. As soon as I woke up, it would stop. I spoke to a hotel manager about it and he told me it was a patient who was recently released from a mental institute who does this as he still thinks he is locked up in the institute.
A combination of not taking his medication and sleepwalking makes him randomly try and kick doors down within the hotel. The family was very wealthy and connected and the manager didn't want to kick up a fuss for chucking out someone who can shut his business down very quickly. I left after a week because it got worse.
#41 Stayed In A Crime Scene
I arrived late at a hotel for a business trip. I got there about five hours after I was supposed to be there. Of course, they gave away my room. I already wasn't happy from all the delays and I wasn't going anywhere. The event I was there for was in their hotel. I wanted my room. I was polite but resolutely firm. They did some scrambling and asked if I would consider a damaged room under construction.
"As long as the sheets are clean so I can go to bed, I don't care," was my reply. Mistake. The room they gave me was literally a crime scene. The case had been closed so there was no legal issue to contend with but someone had been killed (or nearly killed - not 100 percent sure) in that room. They had primed over the stains on the walls and ceiling but had only taped down semi-clear plastic over the pooled of red liquid on the carpets. Multiple small holes in the walls had obviously been patched and sanded but they were MULTIPLE SMALL HOLES IN THE WALLS. They gave me a completely new bed and TV from on-site inventory so I was comfortable but, man, it was creepy.
#42 It Wasn't Okay
I was staying in a youth hostel in Tel Aviv as a teenager and I remember being woken up in the middle of the night to someone saying, "It's okay, don't worry, go back to sleep." I think I wasn't really fully awake, more of a half-awake state... Anyway, when I got up in the morning, I found out my wallet had been stolen.
#43 Flies Everywhere
In our cabin there were flies absolutely everywhere. There was even an ancient glue paper fly trap over the sink with a couple hundred dead flies on it that they just left there. It was disgusting trying to cook there but there weren't really other options.
#44 Watch Out For Neighbors
My wife and I stayed in a pretty well-known hotel in London. The rooms were pretty nice but had a door which allowed someone to travel between our room and the one next to us. To do so you needed to open the door in my room and then someone had to open theirs in the neighbouring room. There was only one handle on each door. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I saw someone moving around. Being dark and the middle of the night, I thought it was my wife. The next morning I found my separator door ajar...
#45 Ghost Kettle
I went on a road trip through the USA a few years back. The night before I was due to return the rental van and fly home, I checked into a motel and transferred all my belongings into the room so I could pack my bags properly. I dumped it all on the desk on the other side of my room and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, the tea kettle from the RV (which I swear I hadn't moved into the hotel room) was sitting on the pillow next to me. Nothing else had moved.