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8 atmospheric hotels for Halloween

Adare Manor, Ireland

Magical, mystical and in some cases supernatural: get your thrills on All Hallows’ Eve at these breathtaking hideaways

No expense was spared during Adare Manor’s grandiose restoration, making it the most expensive hotel in Ireland’s history


For lovers of gothic architecture, this is the perfect weekend getaway: the 18th-century Adare Manor in County Limerick reopened last year following an extensive restoration process. Step inside this gargoyle-bedecked estate to find a Pugin staircase topped with carved ravens, meticulous stonework, stained-glass windows and original oak paneling. But this moody scene hides some very glamorous secrets: a luxurious La Mer spa and a restaurant headed by Ireland’s star chef, Mike Tweedie. Outside, there are 842 acres of charming woods, fairy trails and ethereal willow sculptures to discover.


A seven-mile drive south of the forbidding Dracula’s castle at Bran, the road winds higher into the Carpathian Mountains, where Amfiteatrul is perched on a high ridge surrounded by forest and wildflower meadows. At this time of year, the rhythm of the seasons dictates wild-berry forages and mushroom collecting, produce that is then used in the excellent kitchen. Amifteatrul is a collection of unique 200-year-old houses, each fantastical enough to stir the imagination as Halloween approaches. Painted in soft shades using natural dye from plants that are cultivated nearby, the décor changes according to the season: there are ghoulish, grimacing pumpkin faces dotted around the dining room in October; beribboned cuddly Easter rabbits in spring. The kitsch is part of the charm and doesn’t detract from the fabulousness of the views, the landscape that’s made for hiking, the food which is nearly all home-grown, or the excellent health retreats. If you visit as part of the itinerary organized by The European Nature Trust, Amfiteatrul is the staging post for forays, ever deeper and higher, into the mountainous virgin forest. Here you can sleep in hides and wake up to the thrilling sight of bears, wild boar and deer grazing and foraging.;

Amfiteatrul resort is the perfect base from which to explore the mystical region of Transylvania, described as ‘the last truly medieval landscape in Europe’
Embrace the call of the wild at the remote Gal Oya Lodge


In a remote corner of eastern Sri Lanka, Gal Oya National Park is an atmospheric 25,000-hectare reserve beside the country’s largest inland body of water. Here, the indigenous Vedda people, who live in the wilderness, will guide you on journeys deep into the forest, and boat safaris with resident naturalists can take you out onto the lake and between the islands to spot leopards and iguanas – not forgetting the famous ‘swimming’ elephants, who use familiar water channels as corridors to reach their favorite feeding grounds. The comfortable and unique Gal Oya Lodge, which comes with individual bedroom huts built in the local style, sits near the mysterious mist-wrapped Monkey Mountain. It has the most photogenic of swimming pools beyond a soaring thatched roof that traps the hoots and calls of the frogs, fowl, parrots and monkeys nearby, all adding to the echoey, magical atmosphere of the place. Book through;

The Witchery offers all the drama and magic you’d expect from its name, including lavishly draped beds and Gothic oak paneling


On the cobbled streets of the ancient Royal Mile in Edinburgh – said to be one of the world’s most haunted cities – The Witchery’s 400-year-old history is ingrained in every heavy oak wall. Eat freshly caught Scottish seafood in the enchanting restaurant by the light of flickering candelabras before retiring upstairs for the night, where the theater continues: choose from the eight character-filled suites (with dramatic names such as ‘The Armory’, ‘The Turret’ and ‘The Sanctum’), all opulently decked out with four-poster beds, rich velvet furnishings and roll-top baths. No toil and trouble here, just a darkly atmospheric spot to hole up for the weekend.


Halloween conveniently dovetails with school breaks in many countries, and this resort hotel with vast gardens, perched on one of the seven hills of Rome, has enough on offer for everyone in the family. Grateful parents will be able to separate themselves from their offspring briefly at the only three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the city, or sign up for private tours of the hotel’s world-class private art collection, which includes a Tiepolo and a Warhol, with expert art curators. For children with a ghoulish disposition, Rome is unbeatable: there is the Colosseum, where gladiators in costume prowl around; sword-fighting lessons at the Gladiator School on the Appia Antica; or the crypts of the Capuchin monks, where bones and skulls line the walls. Back at the hotel, for those with a more limited interest in history, there are hat-making courses that will keep the young entertained while the adults head for the excellent spa.

With its palatial interiors and historic works of art, Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria is the go-to for sensuous luxury
Old-world magic
Head to the Old Cataract Hotel for 19th-century charm on the banks of the Nile


Legends abound in Aswan’s famous archeological Nubian Museum, especially with the discovery of a new set of mummies found only last year. Imbibe Egypt’s old-world magic at the nearby Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote parts of her famous thriller, Death on the Nile. Savor the best views of the river on your suite terrace as old feluccas drift by; after dark, sip a classic martini under the moon, gazing out across the water to the extraordinary sight of the illuminated Mausoleum of Aga Khan.


Though the High Line Hotel is only a heartbeat from the Hudson in the middle of NYC’s Chelsea gallery district, stand outside this former dormitory in its dramatic cloistered grounds and be transported to turn-of-the-century England. Inside, the 60 rooms’ vintage décor is pure boutique chic, but the public areas – particularly the shadowy Hoffman Hall event space, with its molded ceilings, stained-glass windows and stoic sculptures – stay true to the building’s neo-Gothic roots.

The Gothic facade of the High Line belies its boutique-style interiors
Location, location, location
Just moments from St Mark’s Square, Bauer Palazzo offers superlative views of the Grand Canal


Nothing has darkened the landscape of Venice quite like the iconic 1973 thriller Don’t Look Now, the gripping horror movie starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, played out against the city’s deserted backstreets. Follow in the footsteps of the film’s heroine Laura and stay at the Bauer Palazzo on the west side of St Mark’s Square; director Nicolas Roeg used it as a location for the famous love scenes, with its backdrop of original Gothic-byzantine façades and ornately gilded bedrooms. At night, explore the eerily quiet backwaters of Calle di Mezzo, just below the Campo Santa Maria Formosa, where you can quite easily imagine catching sight of a ghostly, childlike figure in a red pixie hood…