Halloween is just around the corner, but for a spine-chillingly good haunted holiday at any time, there's ghostly getaways galore.
The Perfect 10: Haunted holidays
If the thought of ghosts makes you want to turn tail and flee, Ballygally Castle Hotel promises that theirs are 100% friendly. Dating from 1625, the castle is the only 17th century building still being used as a residence in Northern Ireland and has centuries of inhabitants and spooky goings on to entertain you. Watch out for Lady Isobel Shaw, who apparently entertains herself by knocking at doors and disappearing – legend has it she was starved to death by her husband, and you can still stay in the Lady Isabella room if you're brave.
Or if you want to escape the mysterious footsteps, taps turning themselves on, flickering lights and objects moving by themselves, you're near the sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay near Larne in County Antrim. The Halloween package is available from October 22-31, from £65 including dinner and ghostly tour, or doubles cost from £40.
Once part of Blanchland Abbey, The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel still has its priest hole as well as a long and blood-soaked history. Even before the dissolution of the abbey, a group of monks were killed by bandits, and can still sometimes be seen drifting across the land nearby, accompanied by the phantom pealing of the abbey bell.
And the spirit of Dorothy Foster, whose brother Tom inherited the estate in the 18th century, can also be felt roaming the building searching for Tom, who she saved from trial for high treason and who fled to exile in France. Rooms cost from £45 per person B&B. Book at www.english-inns.co.uk.
A special Halloweedn package includes two nights dinner, bed and breakfast, plus psychic reading on October 30, for £130 per person.
First opening during the 1880s, The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, New York state has been tempting people back for centuries to its location in the Adirondack Mountains, it seems. The resort's dining room is regularly visited by a couple who come down from the second floor, take a seat in the restaurant's reception room and then leave.
Believed to be some of the hotel's first guests, they're kept company by an apparition of a tall woman in white with long blonde hair, who once spoke to a cook before walking through him and disappearing. He, unsurprisingly, quit that very night. Rooms cost from £97 per night. Book through www.preferredhotels.com.
Boasting of being the most haunted in England, The Mermaid Inn in Rye is apparently home to the Grey Lady, a pair of violent duellists, the ghost of a servant girl killed by a smuggler, a ghostly woman who rearranges people's clothes and other apparitions who walk through walls. With parts of the building dating back to the mid 12th century, it's certainly had time to pick up a few additional inhabitants – including a man wearing old-fashioned clothes who likes to sit on people's beds in the middle of the night.
Rooms cost from £80 per person. Visit www.mermaidinn.com for more information.
There's good service – and then there's going beyond anyone's expectations by returning from the dead. But at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, in Alberta, Canada, it seems Sam the bellman still haunts the corridors. When he retired in 1967, he promised to come back and despite dying a couple of years later, he apparently kept his word as guests have claimed to have spotted a bellman in 1960s-style uniform.
Based on a Scottish castle transplanted to the Rockies, prices start from around £155. Visit www.fairmont.com for more information.
The scary Queen Mary is permanently docked in Long Beach, California after being converted into a hotel. And along with the 1930s decor, paranormal researchers believe there are as many as 200 spirits on board – making it one of the most haunted locations in the world. Over the years, passengers and guests have heard a little girl's laughter, as well as figures in period clothing wandering the halls or at a cocktail table.
Throw in flickering lights, mysterious wet footprints, whispers from empty hotel rooms and unseen forces that pull sheets from the bed and it's a unique place for a break. There are ghost sighting plaques around the ship, in case you want to hover in a particularly spooky location. Rooms start from around £110, although there are regular promotions at www.queenmary.com. There are regular guided Haunted Encounters Tour and other ghostly options available, such as the Dark Harbor packages from £150, including two Fast Fright passes.
Built in 1865, and once owned by the BBC, you might be lucky enough to stumble across royalty in the Langham Hotel in central London. Apparently Napoleon III has chosen to spend the afterlife in the hotel's basement, although he's just one of five 'regular' ghosts.
Others have apparently been seen with Victorian dress while a German prince who threw himself from a window walks through closed doors, lowering the temperature as he passes. Rooms cost from £150, visit london.langhamhotels.co.uk for more information.
Regarded as the oldest city in America, St Augustine's history includes pirate raids – and it seems some of the buccaneers enjoyed things so much, they stayed around. The Pirate Haus Inn and Hostel, on Treasury Street, is based a few doors away from the old Spanish Treasury, raided by pirates in 1668. Ghost tours in the city stop outside to tell the tale of Estefania de Cigarroa, who ran out into the street with her baby sister in her arms during the raid, only to be shot, killing her sister.
Guests in room 6 have reported seeing strange blue lights, while staff have experienced things falling off shelves for no apparent reason. Rooms cost from around £12.50 per night at www.hostelworld.com.
Once the monks' quarters for the village church, the most popular ghost at the Brocket Arms is the 'friendly monk' who is believed to have been hanged in the front bar during the 14th century. A young girl has also been spotted on several occasions in the bar and toilets, even captured on film by one of the kitchen staff.
Even if you don't spot any supernatural guests, it's easy to feel like you've stepped back in time in the English Country Inns property, with the oak-beamed bar and a four-poster bed in one of the rooms, which cost from £85 to £120.
The ghost at the Paso Robles Inn in California is determined to keep everyone safe, it seems. Mysterious calls from Room 1007 to the front desk and even the police - who found the room unoccupied when they arrived – were originally written off as a glitch. But when maintenance checked the phone line, he saw it light up and call reception on its own, and after trying to call down himself, was cut off and another call placed from the room's second line...
Believed to be night clerk JH Emsley, who discovered a fire in December 1940, and sounded the alarm before dropping dead of a heart attack, it's thought he's still trying to call for help, not realising that all the guests were evacuated safely. Rooms cost from around £72 per night at www.preferredhotels.com.