Nothing is quite as ominous and foreboding as a huge abandoned building, one with burnt, crumbling walls pockmarked with shattered window panes seeming to glare down as if from the blackened eye holes of a skull. Abandoned hotels seem to possess a special malignant aura, as if the souls of long-dead guests from the past lurk in the rubble, angry that their formerly happy retreat has been forsaken.
The world is dotted with such ruins, some caused by war, some by natural disaster, others just by bad business or neglect. We’ve chosen six of the creepiest for your review. What other abandoned hotels have you seen which inspire dread?
The Holiday Inn, Beirut, Lebanon
The bullet-torn remains of Beirut’s Holiday Inn. (Photo: dpa picture alliance archive / Alamy Stock Photo)
This 24-story bullet- and shell-scarred corpse of a hotel was a casualty of Beirut’s 1975-1976 “War of the Hotels.” This war wasn’t a metaphor for tough marketing or pricing competition, but rather an all-out street battle between different factions in Lebanon’s vicious civil war of the 1970s. The top floors were occupied by snipers as their opponents pounded the strategic structure with artillery. Now the structurally unsafe building is off limits to visitors (though as recently as 1998 it hosted an underground dance party), and stands as an ugly tombstone to the country’s war-scarred recent past.
Grossinger’s Resort, New York
It’s hard to believe that families once splashed and played in this now-deserted and moss-grown pool at Grossinger’s. (Photo: Forsaken Fotos/Flickr)
This formerly hip and happening place in the “Borscht Belt” of upstate New York was a popular destination, particularly for Jewish families in the early 20th century who were excluded from many other U.S. country clubs and resorts. Opened as a one-room farmhouse hotel in 1914, it expanded to a 1,200-acre resort complex hosting tens of thousands of guests, including the rich, the famous, and me. This place feels personally creepy as I stayed here with my family as a little kid, swam in the now trash- and muck-filled pool, had camp activities in the now graffiti-stained lobby, and slept in a room that now looks just like the setting for a certain kid’s 1970s-era post-apocalyptic nightmare. Also, it was during my stay here when I heard Elvis died. Creepy!
Liebig Ghost House, Namibia
Once a guest house, now a creepy rave spot. (Photo: Bill Fink)
In the countryside outside of the capitol of Windhoek, Namibia, the Liebig “Ghost House” looms on a small hill above grassy fields like a scarred zombie emerging from the earth. Not strictly a hotel but rather a guest house for visiting farm managers, the Liebig House was owned by a large farming company and was sold multiple times before being abandoned sometime in the 1950s.
Photo: Bill Fink
When I stopped there one Sunday morning, I walked through the once-majestic but now collapsing interior stained with decades of graffiti and rot. Then, out the windows I saw pale, slow-moving humans staggering around the grounds. Zombie attack? No, just the last lingering partiers left over from an all-night rave party on the grounds the prior night.
Hotel Igman, Sarajevo, Bosnia
The war-torn shambles of the formerly luxurious Igman Hotel. (Photo: Fehim Demir/epa/Corbis)
Built in a spirit of optimism, unity, and teamwork for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, the 162-room Igman Hotel was a showplace for mountain luxury but was brutally torn apart, along with the rest of the city, during the Balkan War and siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. The shattered concrete building, surrounded by unmapped mine fields, looks just like the war-scarred bunker that it was used for during the battles. Accusations of torture and executions that took place inside make the structure seem both tragic and evil. Its ruin stands as a silent monument to the horrors of war and the speed with which good times can be turned to terror.
Igloo Hotel, Alaska
The frosty facade of the formerly glorious Igloo Hotel. (Photo: morten larsen / Alamy Stock Photo)
This four-story “white blob” of an abandoned hotel looks like an alien spaceship has crash landed in the Alaskan countryside 180 miles north of Anchorage. Small, darkened windows jutting from the dome look like they might spit out hostile arctic drones, or maybe a bunch of White Walkers who have been using the place as a clubhouse. The real story is more prosaic: the hotel was built to be a roadside rest stop in the 1970s, but its design didn’t meet fire code standards, and the original owner lacked the money to fix it. Abandoned since then, the blob is slowly deteriorating due to tough arctic weather conditions (and tough arctic vandals). But good news—it can be yours for the price of $300,000!
The Lake Shore Inn, California
An old decrepit sign and the bare bones of the hotel are all that remain. (Photo: Marcin Wichary/Flickr)
Sort of a post-modern ruin, the Lake Shore Inn was part of a huge suburban planned community called California City out in the desert northwest of Los Angeles. The town is the third-largest city in California based on geographic size, but just 14,000 people live there, surrounded by miles of empty roads leading to abandoned lots and a large prison. The Lake Shore Inn was part of the plan to host visitors, but almost nobody came and it was abandoned a couple decades ago. The hotel has no gothic towers, ancient burial grounds, or ghost stories. The concrete shell just stands as a sad, hollow monument to a suburban dream dying “not with a bang but with a whimper.”
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