As England’s capital city and one of the best places in the world for live music, food, and history, London has a lot to offer the typical tourist. But don’t fret if you’re a traveller who prefers to spend their days reading up on hauntings and their nights exploring mysterious locations hunting for ghosts. London’s long, tumultuous history makes it a city ripe for the paranormal, especially at some of London’s oldest hotels.
Book a night at one of these London hotels to see for yourself what goes bump in the night, whether it’s the unhappy spirit of Napoleon III or a band of ghost children playing on the floor above. Here are some of London’s most haunted hotels to visit.
1. The Langham, Marylebone
Operating since 1865, this upscale accommodation in central London has been a meeting place for the rich and famous since its inception. Its opening night welcomed esteemed guests of royal and aristocratic stature, and the trend has never stopped. As time went on, the 500-room hotel stayed competitive to please its guests from the upper echelon, becoming one of the world’s first hotels to offer running hot and cold water in every room. The hotel’s luxuries include:
A world-class spa.
A sleek modern design that nods at the hotel’s long history.
Although the Langham’s past guests have included the likes of Princess Diana, Oscar Wilde, Lady Gaga, and London’s own Arthur Conan Doyle, the luxury suites also draw in ghost hunters from around the world to experience the paranormal. Even the ghosts are high-class — Emperor Napoleon III is known to frequent the hotel’s basement in a ghostly fashion after staying there during his exile from France. Another favourite Langham ghost is a German prince who sadly took his own life when he jumped off a balcony on the hotel’s fourth floor. H through doors and perusing the halls in his military jacket, hopefully in a more peaceful state in his afterlife (unlikely, though, considering the cold air he supposedly carries around the hotel).
Room 333 is one of the hotel’s most infamously active rooms. Well-known incidents include a BBC reporter who, when staying in room 333, reported seeing a ball of light floating above their bed before morphing into a hovering man-like figure. Some say the spectral figure, seen in Victorian garb by other guests, is the ghost of a doctor who murdered his wife, then killed himself, in this room. Some guests even report being picked up and thrown out of the bed in this room, let alone the ghosts who haunt the halls outside — a man whose face is covered by a massive wound and an old-timey butler who walks from room to room.
Also conveniently located in central London, this small luxury accommodation just screams haunted. It originally served as a townhouse in the 1700s, as evidenced by the period-accurate decor there today. The hotel has decorated with as much of the original furniture and design as possible, making it a cosy and unique historic attraction. The hotel’s 26 antique rooms are known to host ghosts as well as guests, making Grange Blooms one of London’s most popular ghost tourism attractions. Located inside the British Museum grounds, Grange Blooms Hotel is rife with history, like being one of Dr John Cumming’s favourite places to stay in London — and where his spirit supposedly resides today.
For ghost hunters who prefer light hauntings that will leave you more giggling and wide-eyed than rattled and shaken, this is the perfect place to search for spectral activity. Dr John Cumming was an 1800s-era conspiracy theorist and clergyman. He spent his life trying to find prophecies of the apocalypse using the Bible. Although the world didn’t end in the mid-1800s as he said it would in his books, you can still see his ghost studying the Bible in the hotel’s lounge. Wait for the end of the world with Dr Cumming at the Grange Blooms, or take a walk around the hotel and enjoy some of London’s best shopping. The haunted London Tombs are also just a short cab ride away from the hotel.
In Chelsea, the Cadogan Hotel is another celebrity-addled historic site well known to today’s ghost hunters and mediums. Several famed Londoners and foreign visitors have been guests at the Cadogan, including Oscar Wilde, who was famously arrested in room 118 for homosexuality. Despite that egregious and disappointing moment in English history, Wilde’s ghost is not known to haunt the luxury hotel. With over 130 years of history as a hotel, there is plenty of spectral fodder in the building.
Paranormal investigators who like a challenge should look here for the ghost of Lillie Langtry, said to haunt the hotel around Christmas each year. Langtry was a strikingly beautiful actress active in the early 1900s. She became famous for her looks and her secretive relationship with the Prince of Wales. Rumour says she lived in a building near the hotel when she seduced the prince in one of the hotel’s rooms on Sloane Street. She died in 1929 in Monaco, but mediums think she returns to the Cadogan each Christmas to celebrate the holiday in her former home. Her ghost is only seen when the hotel is nearly empty, so it may be necessary to stay up late or speak to the staff to increase the chances of running into a spectral Langtry.
4. The Savoy, Strand
In Charing Cross, the Savoy stands as one of London’s most significant luxury hotels. A favourite of many stars passing through the city, including Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan, this 268-room hotel is famous for a lot more than its hauntings. The view of the Thames is unmatched, with massive windows and balconies offering a panoramic lookout. For more than 130 years, the hotel has hosted the top tier of visitors to London — always the sign of a great historic haunt.
The Savoy’s ghosts have been known to leave guests with a slightly unsettled feeling, despite the luxury dining, private river cruises, swimming pool, and saunas offered at the hotel. Most famous is the little girl bellhop who hangs out in the lift and on the fifth floor. Some say she was killed or at least died in the building, but she doesn’t seem unfriendly. She enjoys operating the lift and roaming the corridors by room 502 – the most paranormally active room. The hotel’s paranormal activity stops and starts at the lift’s mysterious movements and the occasional sighting of the girl’s apparition. Luckily, the Embankment tube station nearby is a great place to find evidence of ghosts, like cold spots and self-swinging doors.
5. Georgian House Hotel, Westminster
Luckily, one of London’s most haunted hotels is also one of its more affordable B&Bs, offering a quintessentially London experience and proximity to the Victoria tube station. The hotel even has wizard-themed rooms that look just like Harry Potter dorms, making this a great place to visit with kids or visit the ghosts of some.
The hotel’s most famous apparitions are a group of mischievous children known to hang out on the top floor. When some Georgian House guests heard kids running through the corridors slamming doors and laughing loudly, they complained to the staff, who unsettlingly informed them that no children were staying at the hotel at the time. It’s nothing new for the Georgian House team, who first confirmed their haunt in the late 1980s. The manager at the time heard the kids banging around upstairs and asked his receptionist to contact the parents to quiet them. The receptionist informed them that no children were staying there that night.
One manager claims they met the children and told them they could only play on the hotel’s upper floor. It seems the ghosts listened, as guests have only reported seeing ghosts on the top floor. One report includes an older man in the top floor rooms. Perhaps he knows the children, but the history of this hotel’s ghosts is undetermined.