There are a lot of creepy hotel horror stories. One that regularly reminds me that there are a lot of creeps out there and you can’t be too careful is the very real story of a motel owner who constructed a series of crawl spaces in the ceiling of his motel so that he could spy on guests. What’s even creepier is the lack of shame the man felt about this. After 21 years of keeping the secret, he bragged about it to a journalist at the New Yorker under the condition of anonymity.
Another creepy hotel story that gets to me is the mythology surrounding Jim Carrey leaving the Stanley Hotel in the middle of the night while he was there filming Dumb and Dumber. The Stanley hotel is famously haunted and served as the literal inspiration for one of the most popular haunted hotel stories of all time, The Shining. According to the staff, local legend has it that during filming Carrey checked into room 217, the hotel’s most haunted room where Stephen King stayed with his wife Tabitha the night he had a nightmare that would become The Shining. Room 217 plays a prominent role in both King’s novel and Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation, though the number was changed to room 237 in the movie at the request of the hotel used for filming. After three hours in the room, Jim Carrey checked out of room 217, left the hotel, and refused to return. Carrey has never spoken publicly about what happened to him in room 217.
I stayed in that room in 2016 and when I went to switch rooms in the morning (because room 217 is much more expensive than other rooms in the hotel, so I had always planned to stay in that room for one night and a cheaper room for the other nights I was there) the hotel staff smirked and asked why I was changing rooms. They assumed I was the most recent in a long line of guests that have had supernatural experiences in room 217. Unfortunately, my night in room 217 was ghost-less. My only supernatural experience at the hotel was possibly catching a ghost lady on camera in the basement of the hotel’s concert hall in a separate building from where the guest rooms are.
A hazy maybe-ghostly entity caught on film and an otherwise peaceful night of sleep in the mountains is pretty tame compared to many other people’s creepy hotel experiences. Especially those experiences that deal with real living, breathing bad guys. A few years ago an Ask Reddit thread asked for people to share their scariest experiences staying in a hotel. One young woman’s response is probably the most terrifying hotel horror story I’ve ever heard of. The woman, who has since deleted her account, told about a solo road trip she took across the country. Unexpectedly she needed to stop for the night and pulled into one of tiny roadside motels in the middle of nowhere.
Spooked by the hotel clerk insisting she pay cash and the dirty state of the motel room, the exhausted woman decided to spend the night sleeping in her car instead and get back on the road as early as possible. She woke up in the middle of the night to see the hotel clerk unlock the door to her room and enter. Moments later, he reappeared with another man. The woman was able to start her car and simply drive away from what could have been a life-threatening situation. Later, she discovered the hotel was supposed to be permanently closed down at the time she visited.
Here is her full account in her own words:
“Years ago, I was on a cross country trip, solo, to a family reunion. I was supposed to make it a friends house, but there was horrible weather, it was slow moving. Then a terrible accident happened just ahead of me, and I was stuck for quite a while. All told I was five hours behind schedule.
I was exhausted, in need of a bathroom and a shower, so I pulled into a little strip motel off of a fairly back roads state road. It was obviously small and dirty, but would work in a pinch.
There was a window to the outside where check in was. The guy there eyed me up (then a college aged girl), asked me if I was traveling alone. I went to hand him my ID and credit card, but he insisted cash only. Red flags were going off at this point, but I scrounged together just enough cash and he tossed me the key.
The room was dirty, barely bigger than the bed. The first thing I did was go to the bathroom, then I flipped up the mattress: dirty, signs of bed bugs. A moment later, I spied a cockroach.
That was it, I was out. I decided I would use the parking space at least, and sleep in the back trunk hatch of my suv. I curled up, using a suitcase for a pillow and random clothes for a blanket and fell asleep for an hour.
I woke up aware of someone talking on a phone outside, and glanced out to see the guy from check in standing outside (it was now around 3 am). He finished up his call, then walked quietly over TO MY ROOM, unlocked the door, and walked in. The lights didn’t turn on, and a minute or two later later, he came back out, slamming the door behind him, and cursing, with ANOTHER GUY. I hadn’t seen guy two enter, so I still don’t know where he came from.
They angrily talked for a moment, then check in guy walked over to my suv. I covered up my head quickly with a shirt. After he tried the locked door, he peered in the backseat, but between my tinted windows, and blending into the general mess, he didn’t notice me in the hatch.
The two guys walked away to the far side if the lot. talking more, the one gesturing across the street where a diner was. While they were distracted, I climbed up to the front seat and started up the suv, they turning around in surprise as I pulled away.
I called my friends back home and told them, but didn’t want to worry my family, so I said nothing to them. When I got back home some three weeks later, we figured out the name of the hotel thanks to google maps and called the local police. They told me the place had closed down only days before I called.
Edit: frequent questions stuff. This was about a decade ago, took place along 250 (I believe) in Virginia. Place name was “Mountain Top” or “Mountain Side” Motel. It was a single story building, check in window in the middle. Tiny diner across the street, no other businesses nearby. My logic was that it was smarter than parking by the side of the road. Police took my info, never called me back. Never found out anything from web searches immediately afterwards. At least one friend thought I misunderstood the situation and there was a logical reason.”
This is your reminder to trust your gut.