Do You Dare? HI’s Haunted Hostels

October 23, 2017

Summer has ended, colour-changing leaves are crunching satisfyingly under our feet, and the days are getting shorter; this can only mean one thing: Halloween is upon us!

Celebrated with different traditions throughout the world, Halloween as we know it today is believed to have originated from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, when the barrier separating the spirit world from our own could be more easily crossed.

Today, Halloween, which was brought to the US by Irish and Scottish immigrants, has become a globally celebrated holiday. Celebrated by dressing up in costume, going door-to-door collecting as much candy as can be carried, attending themed parties, and carving pumpkins, it’s the time of the year when people can let their inner ghoul (or friendly fairy!) loose.

While dressing up as Wonder Woman and winning Best Costume for the 3rd year running at your neighbour’s annual Monster Bash is all good and well, what about stepping up your All Hallows’ Eve game and spending the night in a real haunted house? 

Whether you’re a ghost-hunting believer or a through and through sceptic, for those brave enough to face whatever goes bump in the night, here are our most haunted hostels:


HI Ottawa Jail

HI Ottawa-exteriorConsidered one of the most haunted buildings in the world, from 1862-1972 the building served as the Charleton County Gaol jail, complete with teeny tiny cells, inhumane treatment of inmates, and public executions. 

Guests can sleep in one of the former cells, and visit the unchanged death row and fully-functioning gallows. Still not frightening enough for you? We’re not done.

Not only does the yard serve as the final resting place for many prisoners who died or were executed while behind bars, but people also report hearing heavy footsteps around corners. knocking on doors… and screams. None of this compares, however, to the many ghosts people still see roaming the halls.

The most commonly reported ghost sighting is believed to be the spirit of Patrick James Whelan, who in 1869 was hanged at the jail in front of more than 5,000 onlookers, for assassinating Thomas D’Arcy McGee. Guests spot him in his death row cell and at the foot of their beds, sometimes carrying a Bible. Hiding under the covers here is considered perfectly acceptable.

Glenmalure – Co Wicklow YHA

GlenmalureAt one of Ireland’s most secluded hostels, the location and setting alone can be enough to send a chill down your spine, but that’s not the only spooky thing about this mountain dwelling.

Years ago, a group of night hikers simultaneously began to hear the sounds of the footsteps of many people on the trail behind them, as well as someone singing a marching song. Afraid of why a large group of people would be in the mountains so late, they moved into a wooded area where they could hear people whispering in a strange language, possibly gaelic. Frozen in horror as the voices and footsteps grew louder, the hikers were suddenly passed by a crowd of blueish ghostly figures.

Like all sane people, the hikers immediately ran back to the hostel as quickly as possible, where they recounted their encounter. Hostel employees had a hunch they knew what they’d just witnessed; Glenmalure used to be a stronghold for those resisting British occupation, and over 800 British troops were killed in the very same valley.

YHA St Briavels Castle

StBriavelsAt over 800 years old, and with previous uses including a hunting lodge used by King John, administrative centre, and prison, St Briavels is considered to be the most haunted castle in the UK, with numerous people bearing witness to the souls that lurk among the castle’s halls.

Guests commonly claim to hear the sound of a baby crying in one room, which is made all the more frightening when you find out that during a remodel of that room, the corpse of a baby fell from the rafters. But that’s not all. People report feeling their bed sheets tugged on by invisible hands, a Grey Lady haunting one corridor, a black dog who wanders from room to room, an armoured knight who continues to stand guard, moving furniture, other endless visions, inexplicable noises and smells, and even reports of being touched and grabbed.

Honestly if spending the night here doesn’t scare you, it’s possible nothing ever will.

Fremantle Prison YHA

FremantleApparently former prisons make great (haunted) hostels. Built by convicts in the 1850s, Fremantle Prison saw a lot of bloodshed thereafter, which means it’s no surprise people now claim the place is haunted.

The most famous inmate from the prison was a middle-aged housewife named Martha Rendell. What makes her so famous? She was the first and last woman to be hanged in Western Australia in 1909, for murdering her stepson and possibly poisoning her two stepdaughters.

Although there was doubt surrounding her guilt, she was labelled by the media as the “scarlet woman” and “wicked stepmother”, and brought to the prison gallows where she was hung. After that, a mysterious distortion resembling Martha appeared in a window of the prison’s church, and is said to be Martha watching over her old stomping grounds. Others report inexplicable beams of light, sightings of ghostly figures, and visitors’ heads missing from photos of them taken in the gallows.


So, you tell us — do you believe the chilling tales of the spirits that haunt these hostels? Do you have what it takes to spend a night among the unknown? We dare you.

1 Comment. Leave new

Dear Sirs

Several years ago, I went to St Briavel’s castle with my husband. I was in female dorn, previously the hanging room, for two nights. The third one, my husband and I went given the bottom of the tower. It was like a spooky movie, with the wind howlingthrough cracks and the wooden stairs cracking… I have never forgotten those terrible nights!

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