The hotel industry generated about $570 billion in revenue in 2017, and by one estimate, there are more than 5 million rentable rooms in the United States alone. Naturally, some of those rooms are worse than others—and some are downright terrifying.
In several threads, Reddit users shared their worst hotel and motel stories (along with a few tales of creepy couch-surfing and baffling bed-and-breakfasts). We collected a few of the weirdest stories, then edited them slightly for grammar and readability.
If you’re about to hit the road and you’re wondering whether you should really spend the extra $20 per night for a highly rated room, these anecdotes might just convince you.
When you’re staying at a hotel, privacy is key.
“My mom was traveling for work and sat next to a man—a fellow business traveler—on the plane,’ wrote Mmmannino. “They had a casual conversation and exchanged business cards.”
“Later that evening, she’s in her hotel watching TV and gets a phone call from the front desk that her husband is here. They want to know if they can give him a key to the room. Turns out, the creep on the plane was pretending to be her husband to try to get into her room.”
That’s the problem with staying in hotels; other people are staying there, too, and sometimes they’ve got issues with boundaries.
“I was in Vegas with another girl, and in the room next door, the person was playing a guitar really loud,” Reddit user MassageToss wrote. “We decide that if he’s still playing when we get back from dancing, we’ll ask him to stop. 2 a.m. comes, and he’s still playing, so we go into the hall and knock on their hotel room door. It’s two guys who we end up talking to.”
“They said they teach youth group at a church, which does explain why they’ve been in the room all night playing guitar. They apologize and wish us good night.”
“We get ready for bed, my girlfriend passes out, and then I hear a strange sound…a turning doorknob. They’re trying to get into our room through our adjoining door. It was the creepiest thing that ever happened to me in a hotel.”
“I woke up my passed-out friend, and she mumbled something about calling the manager and fell back asleep. I was pumped up with adrenaline so I went and threatened to call the hotel manager, but then I was lying awake in bed a good hour listening for the doorknob.”
Some “creepy visitors” can be easily explained.
“It was a family vacation, around 1 a.m.,” Helpicantchooseauser wrote. “My brother and I had just finished watching The Shining on TV. Neither of us had seen it before. We heard someone trying to open our door. No one else was supposed to have keys.”
“Someone tried to swing open the door, but the hotel lock stopped them. They kept trying to open it multiple times, banging the door against the lock. After a few tries, they gave up.”
Fortunately, this one has an explanation.
“The hotel desk clerk accidentally entered the wrong room for their keycards. It was probably the best way to see The Shining. I can’t be scared more than that from that movie.”
Of course, some situations don’t have clear explanations. This next one qualifies—sort of.
“When I was like 14 or 15, I went with my family to Las Vegas, and we stayed off the main strip in a two-bedroom suite,” wrote mcgrumpy_pants. “It was a smaller casino/hotel. My parents left to go out and enjoy the night while I stayed with my younger siblings. They slept in the bedrooms, and I was in the living room watching TV.”
“I think I dozed off at around midnight, and when I woke up, I was in a stairwell. Outside of the hotel room. I had no shoes on. I had no cell phone. No room key.”
“I went to the front office and told them I was locked out of my room, and they believed me and gave me a key. I still don’t know why I was out there. To this day, I have never sleepwalked. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I did sleepwalk, maybe something happened during those hours that I cannot remember. But it was creepy enough for me to share.”
We’re guessing that mcgrumpy_pants was sleepwalking. The condition can be prompted by sudden stress, and a night in a hotel can certainly qualify; in fact, major hotel chains have established guidelines for dealing with somnambulant guests.
Think twice before answering that call from the front desk.
“I was traveling out of the country right after finishing up a huge five-day work event where I had about 10 hours of sleep total,” wrote Dontthinkdontthink. “I got to the motel, which is kinda run down. The carpet and blankets are damp, but I’m so exhausted that I don’t even really think about it.”
“I fall asleep pretty much immediately at like 8 p.m. local time. At maybe 11 p.m. or so, I get a call from the motel phone saying there’s been a complaint about noise. I tell them that’s impossible, I’ve been sleeping.”
“They ask me if maybe it’s someone else in the room. I tell them nope, I’m here alone, so there’s definitely no one else making noise. They ask me again if I’m sure I’m by myself and not causing any noise. I say yes again and fall back asleep immediately.”
“When I woke up and thought about it some more, I realize how weird the entire interaction was. There was absolutely no noise I could hear anywhere nearby, and I don’t know why the motel staff would need to clarify so many times that I was alone.”
“Apparently they never called. I assume it must’ve been someone calling the different rooms to see who was in the rooms—and how many people. I’ve never been so glad that I always use the extra latch chain lock.”
If you find that story terrifying, this one’s similar…and slightly more disturbing.
“I was on a trip around Southeast Asia in 2012,” wrote razor787. “I was staying at this hotel/guesthouse thing in Cambodia with my traveling companion. It was the middle of the night, and both of us woke up to the sound of our door handle jiggling. Then the door opened.”
“My friend said, ‘What the f***?’ in a confused, just-woken-up state, and this scared the person off. We [saw] him/her running away, and we asked each other if that really just happened.”
“To make things even stranger: I got up and locked the door, and both of us just went back to sleep as if nothing happened. I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t heard the person come in. As I said, the door was locked, and we heard the person trying to pick the lock, or do whatever he/she did.”
Maybe the stranger was trying to rob them, but generally, burglars don’t break in when they know someone’s home.
There’s nothing like a cozy stay in a bed-and-breakfast.
Except, of course, when the owners are a bit…overbearing.
“While in the isles of Scotland, we stayed in a bed-and-breakfast,” wrote Commonvanilla. “It was owned by a couple. The bedrooms were extremely well done and beautiful, but on everything, there were signs to ‘not touch.’ To use the shower, you would have to ask the couple, and the internet ended at 11 p.m.”
“The woman would also check on everyone at random times in the night. We would hear her creeping in the hallway to make sure everyone was sleeping and not doing any ‘illegal’ things like using the internet.”
“When we checked out, she came into our room and said that we ‘stunk,’ and opened the window to prove this. She demanded more money immediately. Another traveler was kicked out because the checkout time was 10 a.m., and they were forced to stand outside in a thunderstorm while their taxi came—she wouldn’t even let them stay inside.”
“Another traveler had to go [get] a check (we were in an isolated place) to pay for the room, and she took their bags and wouldn’t give them back. But on the way out…she asked everyone if they enjoyed their stay.”
Commonvanilla notes that the place has great recent reviews, so apparently the couple has changed their ways over the past few years. Either that or they’re forcing their guests to write good reviews to get their luggage back.
That’s not the only disturbing bed-and-breakfast story we found.
“A friend and I once stayed at a pretty fancy bed-and-breakfast for the night,” wrote redraymus. “The lady who owned it was absolutely lovely, but would appear out of nowhere. We’d be sitting alone in a large room with one doorway, and suddenly, she was in the room with us.”
“Either this joint had secret doors, or something really creepy was going on. She seemed to know things that we’d said or done as well. The thing that tripped us out the most was hearing someone trying to open our door during the night.”
“She was super lovely and the building was beautiful, but we were relieved to check out the next morning!”
Remember: You get what you paid for.
“We found a hotel in Yangon, Burma, for pretty cheap,” wrote Chiefkhump. “They mentioned the rates were low because maintenance was being done on several floors. We sleep fine, wake up, and head to breakfast.”
“There, we met some Germans who had also stayed the night in our hotel. They said they had not slept well; in the middle of the night, someone woke them up to move them from the floor they were on. We—us and the Germans—found out later that they had been moved because they were on one of the levels reserved for maintenance, and part of the maintenance included gassing the rooms for bugs.”
“During the middle of the night, they were just going around the rooms shoving the gas nozzle under the doors and letting them run. They wound up killing the two people next to the Germans before they realized they’d accidentally booked people on that floor. We weren’t on that floor, thankfully, but it has always stuck with me how easy it could’ve been to have gotten mixed up in that.”
If you’re going to be rude to guests, make sure you know who’s around.
“When I was 12, I was staying in a motel with my mom on a road trip,” wrote Sweetrhymepurereason. “We were in the middle of nowhere in Texas at a motel that had a decent rating in our guidebook. It was really cheap, so we went for it.”
“In the middle of the night, the owner knocked on the door and told us we had to leave because he wanted the room for someone else. My mom was outside arguing with him while I was gathering our things, and I was terrified because I heard him start yelling.”
“I looked out the window and saw about half a dozen bikers in vests appear out of nowhere—maybe a nearby room—and start confronting the owner. My mom came inside quickly, and we watched them start harassing the guy, saying things like ‘She’s paid to be here. You’re gonna let her stay tonight! We don’t want to ever hear s*** like this from you again!’ The owner was saying things like ‘I don’t want any trouble!’”
“Everybody left fairly quickly, and we didn’t ever hear anything about it the next day at checkout. We weren’t able to sleep very well because we were so shook up, but it was better than getting in the car again. Thank you, anonymous biker gang.”
We’re guessing that the name of the gang was the Hotel’s Angels.
This sounds like a lovely hotel, but it did have one significant problem.
“We’d arrived at a secluded coastal hotel south of Marmaris, Turkey, around 2 a.m.,” wrote Neverpennyless. “It had been a long day in Istanbul, followed by a flight and long bus ride into Marmaris, where I haggled with non-English-speaking taxi drivers…who were not even aware that this small resort existed.”
That’s never a good sign.
“When the taxi pulled up to the hotel, it was on fire.”
That’s an even worse sign.
“The owner, standing out front, saw us and opened taxi door excitedly, saying ‘You come. I have nice room for you!'”
“I point out that the hotel is on fire, but he simply gestures and says ‘Small fire. No problem. You come.’ I’m utterly exhausted. I find myself following the owner into the hotel, stepping over fire hoses, waving away smoke, and passing firefighters as they run up and down a very nice staircase.”
“We pause at the second-floor landing, and the owner tells me, ‘See. Fire only on this side of hotel. This side, no fire. You come.'”
“My exhaustion removes every ounce of common sense and I follow him to a room down the hall. The room is, indeed, fire free. I quickly scan the in-case-of-fire message on the back of the door, checked the window escape, and promptly pass out with my gear and boots on.”
“In the morning, I awake—alive—wondering if I dreamt the entire thing. I go down the smokey stairs past the charred other side of the hotel. The owner is so happy to see me (still alive) that he eats breakfast with me. I went back a few years later and the hotel had fully recovered.”
You can always save money by couch-surfing.
Just be prepared to meet some…characters.
“I did the couch-surfing thing with a friend a few years ago,” wrote Besidemyself300. “We are both big guys, so we typically feel safe everywhere we go.”
“We show up at the house, and a 60-year-old guy opens the door while on the phone. He’s only wearing sweatpants. He signals for us to enter. He continues his conversation and ends with an ‘I love you.’”
“He turns and welcomes us, then apologizes for being on the phone. He starts talking about his girlfriend, who he was just talking with, and how she lives overseas. He mentions he has several girlfriends and boasts about being a ladies’ man. He then starts to show us pictures; these girls looked like they were 14.”
“While sliding through the pics, he accidentally showed us one of their passports. This weirded us out a lot. We were in our early 20s and didn’t really know what to do, so we said we were tired and wanted to sleep. He walked us to the room while rubbing his belly and told us he [would] make breakfast in the morning.”
“We decided to sleep the night but leave before he woke up. My friend slept on the bedroom door so he couldn’t sneak in. We got up super early and bolted. We got super weird vibes from the guy and just felt gross about the whole thing.”
Then again, hotels aren’t necessarily any better.
“My spouse and I stayed at a massive hotel complex; one of the hotels had bought almost every other hotel around it,” explained TheOrangeTickler. “We bought the online special and were put in one of the ancient acquisitions.”
“There was this odd 4×4 piece of plywood that was hanging down from the ceiling, just enough that it felt like someone could watch you through the crack, but you couldn’t see in it. We hung up the ‘do not disturb’ sign and went to tourist around.”
“We came back, and the TV was on at maximum volume. We left and returned again, and the shower curtain had fallen down. Good thing it was only a one-night stay…that room just felt like someone else was there.”
Other apparent hauntings are more subtle, but no less disturbing for guests.
“I went on a road trip through the USA a few years back,” wrote Oceanmyst. “The night before I was due to return the rental van and fly home, I checked into a motel and transferred all my belongings into the room so I could pack my bags properly. I dumped it all on the desk on the other side of my room and promptly fell asleep.”
“When I woke up the next morning, the tea kettle from the RV (which I swear I hadn’t moved into the hotel room) was sitting on the pillow next to me. Nothing else had moved. Such a small thing, but it creeped me the f*** out and I still can’t figure out exactly how it happened.”
Parents, always watch your kids at the pool.
“When I was about 4, my family was at a resort in Saint Kitts,” wrote cab757. Saint Kitts is an island in the Caribbean. “I was swimming with some of the friends I made there when one of them spoke about a woman at the pool.”
“At one point during the swim, I found myself in front of her and out of sight of my parents. I don’t remember anything leading up to this moment, but I remember her telling me, ‘Close your eyes and you’ll get a big surprise.’ I did—not knowing any better—and she started hitting the top of my head with her fist and holding me underwater.”
The woman apparently had a mental disability.
“Luckily, my mom spotted this happening and stopped it. The woman who tried to drown me had a helper, who was supposed to keep an eye on her, but she was sun tanning and not paying any attention at all. My mom [yelled at] her for not paying attention.”
“This whole thing was more scary than creepy, but it stuck with me ever since, so I thought I’d share.”
Here’s how you know when you really need to re-think your travel arrangements.
“I once stayed in a bed-and-breakfast that had a shared bathroom,” wrote Jam-Polo. “The first night, I got up at probably like 2 a.m., and I was bursting for a pee.”
We’ve never heard that phrase before, but we’ll allow it. We’re bursting to hear the rest of the story.
“The bathroom was down the hallway, not too far, but it seemed like such an effort in my tired state. I get to the bathroom and open the door, and there was this guy just standing in the bathroom, dressed head to toe in a mime costume. Face painted and everything.”
“He was squatted down on the floor, but his trousers were still up. I looked at him for a second. He gave me a wave with a smile and began just silently pushing. I just ran back to my room, locked the door, and decided to pee in a bottle. I’m still not sure if I was just really tired and seeing things or something. It’s seriously the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.”
The mime later left the bathroom, only to get trapped in an invisible box.
If you’re afraid of spiders, you might want to skip this next story.
“I was in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, last year,” wrote crow_man. “Massive spiders all over the room. Even woke up with a couple of little scorpions in my bed the first morning. Next night, I’m sitting at the bar, drinking and chatting with a mate—feel a tickle on the back of my neck and think it’s a mosquito or something. Brush the back of my neck and another motherf*****g scorpion, this time way bigger, plops on the ground at my feet. Stared at it for a moment in shock, squealed like a girl, squashed it, and kept drinking.”
He probably should have brought some scorpion repellent with him, if scorpion repellent is actually a thing that exists. If it does, we bet they sell it by the case in Nicaragua.
In any case, arachnids are creepy, but they’re not as creepy as people.
“My wife and I stayed in a pretty well-known hotel in London,” wrote jack3tp0tat0. “The rooms were pretty nice but had a door which allowed someone to travel between our room and the one next to us. To do so, you needed to open the door in my room. Then, someone had to open theirs in the neighboring room. There was only one handle on each door.”
“One night, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I saw someone moving around. It being dark and the middle of the night, I thought it was my wife. The next morning, I found my separator door ajar.”
Those separator doors have their purpose, but they’re kind of creepy. At least they’re out in the open—and yes, we’ve got a story about hidden hotel room doors. Horror movie directors, feel free to take notes.
“I stayed in a B&B in Pennsylvania that seemed cute enough,” wrote Ghost_Farter (look, we don’t choose them for the usernames). “They did have a wall of antique dolls in the main room, but otherwise, no signs of weirdness. That’s until we were settled in the room.”
“I noticed some scratches on the floor near a book case, and after some inspection, realized it was a secret door. When I asked the owner (who gave a creepy vibe) if it worked, he said ‘yes’ and showed me that it opened to their office, which was a cluttered room with a computer and piles of crap.”
“It had a lock on their side, and when I asked if there was a lock on my side, he smiled and said ‘no.’ When I showed some concern that there was an unlockable entrance to my room that was camouflaged that they didn’t tell me about, he just kept smiling.”
Needless to say, he didn’t sleep well that night.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t go into the woods at night with strange men.
We don’t really need to tell you that, do we?
“[In the] early 2000s, I had just turned 18 and did some work abroad,” wrote Tlnen. “I was in Czech Republic and did some shifts in this tiny remote mountain-top hotel. They let me stay there as long as I worked.”
“At night, I could hear wolves howling. There was this maître d’—older gentleman, tanned, pencil mustache, and super formal behavior. We never exchanged words before this.”
“One night after my shift, I was sitting at the restaurant alone when he approached me and asked if I wanted to go for a walk. At night. In the woods. Why? Outside the patio, there wasn’t any source of light [except] the town below the mountain, not even on the road leading down. It was absolute darkness, and this guy wanted to take me to the woods for some reason. No thanks.”
“I politely declined, but he was persistent. I asked, ‘Why should we go to the woods?’ and he said, ‘Why not, it’s fun.’ No it’s f***ing not. It’s dangerous. He claimed he knew the area well and started to get weirdly desperate about it. After multiple nos, he left. I felt so weirded out about it, I just went in my room and called it a night. Also, an odd side note: I never saw him again.”
So, if you’re planning on spending time at a hotel, should these stories scare you? Of course not—strange things happen when you go out of your comfort zone, and provided that you’re smart enough to refuse an offer to walk into the woods with a stranger, you’ll be just fine. Still, we can’t help but feel goosebumps when thinking about some of these experiences. We’ll be double-checking our hotel locks from now on—and if we ever head to Nicaragua, we’ll be bringing plenty of scorpion repellent.