In the new chiller THE NIGHT, a young couple who get lost in downtown Los Angeles book into a foreboding-looking old hotel for the night… and that’s when their troubles really begin. Very strange things start to happen – eerie noises of young children crying out from other rooms, a sinister and unhelpful cop, and a truly peculiar concierge, all of which make their stay extremely uncomfortable and genuinely frightening.
Creepy hotels – some of them actual haunted hotels, like the Hotel Normandie used in THE NIGHT, have provided the backdrop for some of film and TV’s most notable moments, including monstrous managers, disappearing guests and sleep-shattering disturbances. Here’s a guide to the best worst hotels to book into if you are looking for a night of frights…
The Overlook, Colorado
What it’s like: The beautiful and spacious Overlook (the setting for Stanley Kubrick’s 1980s horror classic The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson) is nestled in the quiet and isolated snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It’s a perfect and restful getaway if you and your family need to unwind.
Facilities: Lavish bar/ballroom, fully stocked kitchen, fantastic topiary maze on the grounds.
Tip for guests: Winter stays can be a bit testing. Don’t go into room 237. Just don’t. And don’t use the elevators.
The Bates Motel, California
What it’s like: The Bates Motel (where Alfred Hitchock’s 1960s chiller, Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins, takes place) is a modest, functional facility located near an old highway in California – the perfect stopping off point for the tired traveller, or the guest for whom ‘discretion’ is key.
Facilities: En-suite shower facilities; beautiful taxidermy collection in reception.
Tip for guests: Lock doors while using the bathroom; don’t go up to the main house; be nice to manager Norman.
Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles
What it’s like: The latest must-watch true crime series on Netflix is The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, detailing the story of the disappearance of a student from her hotel room in downtown Los Angeles.
Facilities: With 700 rooms at budget rates, this hotel is also a slice of history, said to be the inspiration for Barton Fink, and American Horror Story: Hotel; and U2 once filmed a promo video on the roof of the hotel.
Tip for guests: Be sure to make your stay as uneventful as possible, otherwise you might end up the subject of a four-hour long conspiracy theory documentary.
Hotel Cortez, Los Angeles
What it’s like: The hotel that provides the basis for Season Five of the popular TV series American Horror Story is allegedly based on the aforementioned Hotel Cecil, due to its history of strange occurrences taking place within its rooms.
Facilities: Mattresses contain hidden surprises, and the ‘Addiction Demon’ might pay a visit.
Tip for guests: Avoid bookings on ‘Devil’s Night’ (October 30th), as this is when serial killers including Richard Ramirez and the Zodiac killers tend to stay at the Cortez.
Hotel Broslin, Times Square, New York
What it’s like: This modest but quirky real-life hotel (featured in Frank Henelotter’s magnificent grindhouse gorefest Basket Case from 1982) does not judge when it comes to accepting guests – all are welcome here! The residents make up a vibrant, eccentric little community, and there is never a dull moment. Rooms are cheap and basic.
Facilities: In the heart of New York – nightlife on your doorstep.
Tip for guests: The tenant in room 7 is very small, very twisted, and very mad. Knock at your peril!
Starlight Hotel, East Texas
What it’s like: The Starlight Hotel, located deep in the Texas swamps, is run by Judd (played by Neville Brand, in Tobe Hooper’s 1976 Eaten Alive), who makes Basil Fawlty seem positively cordial in comparison.
Facilities: The hotel has an adjoining petting zoo – or rather, a huge great alligator in the swamp, for disposing of unwanted guests.
Tip for guests: Don’t upset the manager – he might get out his scythe.
Hotel Earle, Los Angeles
What it’s like: This ‘characterful’ hotel, with peeling wallpaper, is where a screenwriter (played by John Turturro) books in,in an attempt to get some work done in the Coen Brothers’ 1991 Oscar winning Barton Fink.
Facilities: This cheap and no-nonsense hotel is the perfect place to rub shoulders with the ‘common man’.
Tip for guests: Try not to stay in your room too long. Don’t talk to other guests, particularly salesmen. Don’t invite guests to your room. Be sure to know where your nearest fire escape is.
Motel Hello, California
What it’s like: Farmer Vincent Smith and his younger sister Ida welcome you to Motel Hello, with it’s dodgy neon sign (from 1980 cult comedy horror Motel Hell). They are so eager for you to stay at their combination farm/hotel that they will even kidnap you and force you to stay there.
Facilities: Delicious smoked meat available; ‘swingers’ always welcome
Tip for guests: If you see the sign for Motel Hello, perhaps just keep driving.
Hotel Normandie, Los Angeles
What it’s like: The real-life Hotel Normandie (featured in the new psychological horror film The Night) is said to be the most haunted hotel in the world.
Facilities: Rooms always available.
Tip for guests: Bring earplugs/eye masks in case of ghostly noises/visions; on no account call the police.
If all this talk of haunted and horrifying hotels has piqued your interest, be sure to keep an eye out for the THE NIGHT when it is released on digital platforms (iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Sky, Virgin, Google/YouTube, BT, Playstation, Microsoft, Chili, IFI@Home) on 2nd April 2021.