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Wednesday 31 October 2012

Sluttery Travels: England's Most Haunted Hotels

I don't know if I believe in ghosts. I'm really not sure. I'm a skeptic, but I'm a skeptic who really, really wants to see a ghost. However, I do know that I like historical buildings and creepy places. I once spent the night in a haunted plague pit - I ain't afraid of no ghosts. Unsurprisingly, England is full of haunted hotels. Here's a whole bunch that are as pretty as they are terrifying.

The Old Bell in Wiltshire looks like the kind of place that I'd love to stay regardless of paranormal activity (apropos of not very much, that was a crap film). The Old Bell gets brilliant reviews, and the interior is gorgeous (double rooms are around £120 per night). They're more keen to tell you about the gorgeous gardens, rather than highlight that east part of the hotel is built on the courtyard of the abbey next door and apparently there are several sarcophagi buried deep under the hotel. Look out for The Grey Lady, should you decide to pay them a visit.

Alton Station in Staffordshire apparently has more than a few mentions of a station master ghost in its logbook. There's even a black cat, who apparently haunts the building (in a nice way, cats are friendly) and the reports of a little girl ghost, who was killed by a train. A little girl ghost would scare the bejeezus out of me, but if you fancy staying here it's about £370 for four nights through Landmark Trust.

We've actually been to what's said to be the most haunted Inn in England - The Mermaid in Rye. Sel and I visited on our Sussex Week road trip. No ghosts were seen, but we only popped in for a drink. It's a lovely pub, but its reputation and setting makes it expensive at around £220 a night for a double room.

I confess, I haven't actually read Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, but I really want to stay in the Cornish inn that it's based on. The Jamaica Inn is in Launceston and was used as a coaching inn. But, due it its location it became renowned as a smuggling inn. Spooky activity is widely reported by guests. They've only got four hotel rooms, but they're reasonably priced at around £105 per night.

Apparently Ettington Park has been awarded 'most haunted hotel' by the AA, which I find pretty hilarious. I can just picture ghosts running around being more spooky when there's an inspection on. The most commonly seen ghost is a women in a white gown who floats (walks? roams? glides?) around the corridors before disappearing into nothing. Awesome. Rooms are around £125 through Handpicked Hotels.

Astley Castle in Warwickshire is a very unusual building. It dates back to the 1200s, and has been restored as fully as possible by The Landmark Trust, despite a fire in the building in 1978. The Castle used to be the home of Lady Grey and is said to be haunted by her father - Henry Grey. He'd gone into hiding at Astley Castle during the revolt against Queen Mary. He was actually captured and beheaded in 1554 and his head was found in a church near the Tower of London in 1849. The restoration of the castle might be controversial to some - the building now has a lift - but it's one of the most historically important building in the country. If you'd like to stay here, grab eight friends and split the cost of £1700 for three nights. But not until August 2013 - it's all booked up until then.

Want more haunted hotels? The haunted inn listings on English Inns is packed with them and Haunted Rooms has lots of spooky places to visit. Don't go on your own.

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