You've just settled down for a good night's sleep in a cozy old hotel when a child's laughter penetrates the stillness. Could it be that you are now lying awake in a hotel where guests may have checked out, but never really left? There's no better time to celebrate the world's most haunted hotels than Halloween. If you're looking for things that go bump in the night at prices that won't make you scream, then these hotels, inns, B&Bs, castles, and even a cruise ship, may be right up your dark alley.
Built in 1200, the Dragsholm Castle is not only one of the oldest castles in Denmark, it is also the home to many of the longest-staying guests. Though there aren't an exact number of spirited figures who still roam the grounds—some believe the number to be in the hundreds—there are three who make a particular impression: the Grey Lady, the White Lady, and the Earl of Bothwell.
Visitors may encounter the Grey Lady in their rooms at night, because even in her death, this grateful spirit still keeps a close eye on the castle grounds to make sure things are in order. When the Grey Lady was alive, she was believed to be a worker who suffered from a horrible toothache, which was cured by someone in the castle. She has been repaying the kind deed ever since.
The White Lady's tale is by far more tragic, and begins with the discovery, during a renovation in the early 20th century, of a young girl's skeleton in a white dress hidden within a wall. Legend has it that these bones once belonged to the daughter of the castle's former owner. She fell madly in love with a commonplace worker, and when her father learned of the affair he had her locked within a room in the castle, never to see the light of day again. Her young spirit has been seen roaming the halls at night, perchance searching for her lost love.
The Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn, a consort to Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned for murder in the Dragsholm Castle cellars, where he eventually went mad and died in 1578. Visitors can see the same pillar where the Earl was once chained, and if they're lucky, they may even catch a glimpse of the Earl riding into the courtyard with a horse and carriage. Some visitors have even claimed to hear the sound of horses when there's nothing there.
Today, Dragsholm Castle is a hotel, restaurant, and a museum. Rooms start at 1,695 DKK (about $337 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates) per night, and include breakfast. During the summer, the hotel also offers daily guided tours exploring the castle's 800-year history.
(Photo: Dragsholm Slot)