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Dark Tourism: How to Get Your Thrills: Exploring the Scariest Hostels Around the World

Scariest Hostels

Over the years as a solo female traveler, I have seen my fair share of cozy hotels and restaurants. However, for those of you looking for something that’s out of the ordinary, I’ve compiled a list of some of the scariest hostels around the world. From old jails to eerie buildings, these accommodations are not for the faint of heart, and for good reason. Join me as we explore these spine-chilling lodgings.

Exploring 10 of The Scariest Hostels in the World

For those daring souls who seek spine-chilling experiences and unforgettable thrills, we present to you a guide like no other. Get ready to push the boundaries of fear as we unveil the world’s scariest hostels that will send shivers down your spine. From haunted buildings with eerie legends to spine-chilling locations in the heart of nature, these hostels offer an adrenaline rush like no other.

Join us as we delve into the dark corners and explore the macabre tales that surround these accommodations. Brace yourself for a hair-raising journey as we guide you through the spine-tingling world of the scariest hostels, guaranteed to leave you with unforgettable memories and a rush of exhilaration.

Sleep In Faengslet – Denmark’s Haunted Prison Hostel

If you have the cajones to stay in, the SleepIn Faengslet is a hostel located in Denmark that was once an old prison ward. The building was later renovated into a hotel, but the essence of prison life is still very much present. The authenticity of the hostel is shown in the wall writings that were written by the last inmates who stayed in the building in 2006. Their chilling messages will keep your mind busy at night and the presence of the inhabitants that never left will keep your eyes wide open.

  • Located in the town of Horsens, which is on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. The town itself has a rich history, and the former state penitentiary adds an intriguing historical element to the accommodation.
  • The hostel is set in a converted, historic prison building. The penitentiary, which was in operation from 1853 to 2006, housed inmates for over 150 years. The transformation of the prison into a hostel has preserved much of the original architecture and atmosphere.
  • Despite its historical and eerie atmosphere, the hostel provides modern amenities. Guests have access to shared kitchen facilities, a communal lounge, and free Wi-Fi. You can take guided tours of the prison to learn about its history and its notorious inmates.

Old Mount Gambier Gaol – A Hauntingly Creepy Jail in South Australia

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol in South Australia is one of the most unique hostels in the world. This building used to be a prison from 1866-1995, and now the hotel rooms are the old cells. If you’re looking for a little more space, you can book the old staff quarters. Visitors can even experience prison role-play with unruly prison guards. While it may not be as haunted as SleepIn Faengslet, the sheer fact your stay is purposely in a jail cell, is creepy enough.

  • The gaol, or jail, has a rich history dating back to the mid-1800s. It served as a functioning prison for over a century, housing both male and female inmates. Its history is filled with stories of criminals, wardens, and executions.
  • The gaol offers guided tours that provide visitors with insights into its history and its darker, more mysterious aspects. Tour guides share stories of the prison’s past, its inmates, and the reported paranormal activity.
  • Within the gaol, you can find displays showcasing its history, including information about its former inmates and staff. This provides a fascinating look into the prison’s past.

The gaol’s history is filled with tales of hardship, punishment, and even paranormal activity. Visitors can explore the cells, exercise yards, and punishment areas, gaining insight into the harsh realities of life behind bars in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel – Spooky Happenings and Ghosts

The Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel is an old jail that was used for death-row inmates. Since 1972, there have been reports of spooky happenings and ghosts, making it one of the scariest hostels in the world. Although the rooms are small, the renovations made have ensured that they’re cozy, and you get to enjoy good heat and free Wi-Fi.  You may even get the chance to experience prior tenants.

  • The hostel is housed in a former Carleton County Gaol (jail) that dates back to the 19th century. The jail was in operation for over a century and housed various criminals, including some infamous individuals.
  • The jail cells have been converted into guest rooms, allowing visitors to experience a unique and eerie atmosphere. Guests can choose to stay in private cells or shared dormitories, each with its own historical charm.
  • The hostel offers guided tours that provide insight into the jail’s history, the prisoners who were held there, and the reported paranormal occurrences. These tours are not limited to hostel guests and are open to the public.
  • Within the hostel, you can find historical exhibits and displays that detail the history of the former jail and its significance in the region. The exhibits offer a glimpse into the lives of those who were incarcerated there.

Ryugyong Hotel Pyongyang – A Magnificent Structure in a Dictatorship

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea is a magnificent structure located at the center of the city. Despite its impressive architecture, this hotel is listed among the scariest in the world because of North Korea’s extreme dictatorship. Tourists seeking accommodation here are strictly monitored, and there have even been stories about people disappearing. I’m not sure about ghosts, but a run-in with Kim Jong-un and his buddies may turn you into one. 

Picture this: North Korea, 1987. A grand vision emerges to erect the world’s tallest hotel, a symbol of power and opulence that would dominate the Pyongyang skyline. And so, the construction of the Ryugyong Hotel commences. But alas, the gods of economics had a different plan in mind. Budget constraints and other mysterious obstacles halted progress, sentencing this ambitious project to an eternal state of unfinished glory.

Enter stage left: the “Hotel of Doom” or, better yet, the “Phantom Hotel.” With its towering presence and an air of abandonment, this colossal structure has become a beacon of fascination for dark tourism enthusiasts worldwide. Oh, the allure of the forbidden fruit! Visitors are typically denied access, left to ponder its secrets from afar. The forbidden fruit indeed!

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – the challenges and restrictions that come with venturing into the land of the forbidden. North Korea is known for its tight controls on tourism, making a visit to the Ryugyong Hotel no walk in the park. It’s like trying to break into a secret government facility in a Bond movie – you better come prepared for a wild ride filled with bureaucracy, surveillance, and enough red tape to strangle even the most resilient of adventurers.

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Propeller Island City Lodge – Crazy-Themed Rooms in Berlin

This is one of the strangest hotels found in the world’s most avant-garde city, Berlin. The hotel has equally crazy rooms that vary in themes and sizes. The themes are not trendy or appealing if you don’t have an artistic mind, but if you’re looking at something strange and off the beaten path, this is the place for you.

Forget your run-of-the-mill accommodations; we’re diving headfirst into a realm where the “Gruft” (Crypt), “Labyrinth,” and “Slaughterhouse” rooms await to warp your reality and mess with your emotions. Talk about checking in for a staycation and ending up in a psychological thriller – who needs Netflix when you’ve got this place? You’re about to embark on a mind-bending journey where the line between art and madness blurs into a twisted dance of perception. Propeller Island City Lodge is your portal to a parallel universe where every corner whispers secrets and every step challenges your very sense of reality. Remember, this ain’t your grandma’s cozy B&B – this is where the ordinary takes a wild detour into the extraordinary.

So, if you’re up for a stay that’s more like a ride through a haunted house than your typical hotel experience, Propeller Island City Lodge beckons.

Scariest Hostels

Hotel Katajanokka – A Fascinating and Unique Prison in Helsinki

Hotel Katajanokka in Helsinki, Finland is not only a thrilling destination for accommodation, but also fascinating in its unique way. The building was built in 1837 by Nicholas Tsar and functioned as a prison church. Before its opening as a hotel in 2002, five priests had to bless the building to get rid of any negative energies that might have been present.  Did it work?  Well, that’s up to you to find out. 

In 2007, the former prison was renovated and transformed into a hotel, blending historic architecture with modern amenities. The conversion maintained many of the original features, such as thick brick walls and small windows, giving guests a sense of the building’s history. Each hotel room has a unique layout, as they were originally cells.

Noteworthy Features

  1. Chapel of Silence: While Hotel Katajanokka is not a church, it does have a Chapel of Silence on its premises. This ecumenical chapel is open to guests and visitors alike, providing a serene space for reflection.

  2. Restaurant and Bar: The hotel features a restaurant and bar where guests can enjoy meals and drinks. The restaurant is often praised for its Scandinavian cuisine.

  3. Courtyard: The hotel has a courtyard that adds to the tranquil atmosphere. It’s a place where guests can relax and unwind.

Contrary to being scary, Hotel Katajanokka is generally known for offering a unique and somewhat quirky accommodation experience. The atmosphere is more about embracing the historical setting rather than trying to evoke fear. Guests often find the juxtaposition of the prison’s history with the modern comforts of a hotel intriguing rather than frightening.

Karosta Prison – An Extreme Night in a Historic Museum

Karosta prison in Latvia was built in the early 19th century and was associated with a considerable level of terror until 1997. Non-commissioned officers, sailors, and anyone else accused of going against the Soviet Communist Party served as prisoners here. The experience is so thrilling that visitors call it the “extreme night.” Visitors must sign an agreement statement agreeing to the conditions of the hotel. The hotel also serves as a historic museum.

  • Karosta Prison offers an immersive and extreme experience for visitors who want to gain insight into the harsh conditions and daily life of prisoners during the Soviet period. The prison’s conditions and guided tours aim to recreate the experiences of inmates.
  • Visitors can take guided tours of the prison, led by guides dressed in military uniforms. The tours provide historical information about the prison and include interactive elements, such as role-playing scenarios, where visitors can experience what it was like to be a prisoner.
  • The prison is known for its intense and sometimes unsettling experiences. Visitors are subjected to simulated interrogations, sleep in cold cells, and may experience harsh treatment to gain an understanding of the prison’s history.

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast (USA)

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For those with a fascination for true crime and a penchant for the paranormal, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts, offers an immersive and chilling experience. This historic site is known for the infamous 1892 axe murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, and today, it stands as a unique bed and breakfast where guests can spend the night in the very rooms where these gruesome crimes took place.


The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast is a Victorian-era house that gained notoriety due to the double homicide of Andrew and Abby Borden on August 4, 1892. Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter, was accused but acquitted of the murders. The house has retained its historical charm and remains a significant landmark in true crime history.

Overnight Stay in Historic Rooms

One of the distinctive features of this bed and breakfast is the opportunity for guests to stay overnight in the actual rooms where the murders occurred. The house has been preserved to reflect its 19th-century ambiance, and guests can choose to stay in rooms like the “John Morse Room” or the “Andrew and Abby Borden Room.”

Due to its reputation for paranormal activity, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast also attracts those interested in ghost hunting and supernatural phenomena. Some guests have reported strange occurrences, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the overall experience.

Not for the Faint of Heart

Staying at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast is not for everyone. The macabre history of the house and the potential for paranormal encounters make it a unique destination that caters specifically to those with an interest in true crime and the supernatural.

Sahafi Hotel Mogadishu

To wrap up our list is the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sahafi used to be one of the safest hotels in Mogadishu till its closure in 2015, which was a result of the civil war in the country and the invasion by the Al-Shabaab militants. These acts of insecurity have left tourism in the area in a stagnating infancy state. While the hotel may no longer be in operation, it serves as a reminder of the dangers that travelers face in some parts of the world.

  • The hotel has a rich history and is considered one of the iconic landmarks in Mogadishu. It has been a hub for diplomats, journalists, and international visitors for many years.
  • The Sahafi Hotel has historical significance in journalism. It has been the venue for numerous press briefings, news conferences, and gatherings related to international events and Somali politics. It has played a vital role in the dissemination of news and information.

Now, for all you dark tourism enthusiasts out there, visiting the Sahafi Hotel is like setting foot in the midst of a battleground where courage meets resilience. It’s a front-row seat to bear witness to the harsh realities of conflict, but also a chance to salute the indomitable spirit of the Somali people. These folks know a thing or two about rebuilding and moving forward, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Mogadishu isn’t your everyday travel destination, and safety precautions are a must. The ongoing security risks require careful consideration before you embark on this adventure.

Stanley Hotel, Colorado, USA

If you’re a fan of horror movies, you’ll definitely want to check out the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s famous for being the inspiration behind Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” and the eerie atmosphere is sure to give you goosebumps if you stay overnight. During the daytime, the hotel sits on a beautiful property amongst the evergreens and hers of Elk. At night, the atmosphere changes a bit.

While there isn’t a door marked Redrum, there are plenty of strange experiences to go around.  Personally, while I was there, I felt the touch of something cold that ran the length of my arm while walking up the staircase.  I made my boyfriend at the time hurry to take a picture, and the first second, there was an orb hovering next to me, and a split second later, the orb was gone.  Many guests have reported occurrences such as lights flickering, doors opening and closing by themselves, and ghostly apparitions.

Getting a reservation in the most haunted of rooms is hard to do. Make sure you book a year in advance to get a chance to experience the maid that still lives there.  The tour boasts that the young couple staying there placed their luggage in the room and ran out for 5 minutes only to return to their clothes being put up and folded in the drawers.  Heck, can that ghost come to my house, please?   The hotel offers a fun ghost tour where you can learn about the hotel’s haunted history.

The second time I visited, being a Colorado resident and all (my friends loved going), we were met by a Jack Nicolson look-alike.  He was impressive and it added such a fun element to the experience before we entered the property. Don’t get too excited about the maze though.  They just planted the shrubs, and they were only about knee-high when we went. I’d highly recommend that you do and take in one of the hotel’s filet mignons with blue cheese sauce while you are there.  It literally melted in my mouth.

Scariest Hostels

Other Notable Scary Hostels and Hotels

  1. Bran Castle (Transylvania, Romania): Often associated with the legend of Dracula, Bran Castle offers visitors a glimpse into the medieval history and folklore of the region. It’s not a traditional hostel or hotel, but it hosts events and tours, including overnight stays on occasion.

  2. The Queen Mary (California, USA): Once a luxury ocean liner, the Queen Mary is now permanently docked in Long Beach, California, and serves as a hotel. It’s said to be haunted by various spirits, and visitors can take ghost tours or stay overnight for a chance to experience the paranormal.

  3. Poveglia Island (Venice, Italy): Known as one of the most haunted places in Italy, Poveglia Island was once used as a quarantine station and later as a mental asylum. It’s off-limits to the public but occasionally hosts special tours for those brave enough to explore its dark history.

  4. Hotel Chelsea (New York City, USA): With a history of housing famous artists, writers, and musicians, Hotel Chelsea has also gained notoriety for its mysterious deaths and eerie atmosphere.


If you’re looking for an unusual and thrilling travel experience, consider staying at one of the scariest hostels around the world. From a former prison in Denmark to a haunted hotel in Colorado, these accommodations will certainly give you an unforgettable adventure. Just be prepared for a few sleepless nights and ghostly encounters, and no matter where you go, always remember to Travel Till You Drop! 

About Jill

Hi, Jill Here

Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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