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Hell Hotel

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"Hotel rooms are lonely. All the craziness that you avoid in the day-to-day business of life come to you in hotel rooms and eat your mind. The people they find dead in hotel rooms wouldn't have killed themselves at home. Hotel rooms don't care if you live or die."

Know the Haunted House? Well, this is similar: a hotel that is scary. Often, it's abandoned, and if it isn't, you have a good chance of being killed by your host. Similar to Abandoned Hospital and Inn of No Return. The No-Tell Motel may be one.

This trope stems mostly from the fact that many hotels, even the really nice ones, have an underlying disturbing feel. Like hospitals, they're insanely clean and kept in perfect order, giving the entire facility a sterile, inhuman atmosphere. Every room and floor is identical or near-identical, like a lavishly furnished chicken coop. It's so quiet, the employees are always smiling or out of sight, and the rooms are always tidied up when you're not looking. Then there's knowing you're far from home where no one will notice if you disappear.

While hotels are certainly disturbing by themselves, it gets even worse when they're NOT what a hotel should look like (dirty, disorganized, etc.).

Sometimes characters in a series aren't completely stupid. They know something is wrong with this hotel — maybe the guy at the front desk is more than a touch creepy, or they've overheard the townspeople talk about how they hate outsiders, or that the hotel is supposed to be almost fully booked but no one is around.

But they all know that they don't have a choice. Staying in a hotel with a lockable door is much more preferable than taking their chances sleeping in the car, or maybe they don't have a car at all. Maybe they even outright know that something might try to get them during the night, but staying outside is pure suicide. Either way, they're taking those room keys with a quiet sense of dread.

Characters with these suspicions are usually smart enough to remain wary as they settle down for the night, but sometimes they'll completely forget and decide to take a long shower.

Title is the name of an obscure They Might Be Giants song. Like, obscure even for them.

Not to be confused with a Hotel Hellion, or Hotel Hell, a Gordon Ramsay series in the style of Kitchen Nightmares (which, curiously, uses another obscure song as its Title Theme Tune, but one called "Hotel Hell" instead of "Hell Hotel") in which he solves the problems of ailing hotels, though some of the hotels featured may be approaching this level. There's also the equally obscure haunted house of the same name from Universal Studios' 1997 Halloween Horror Nights. Also, not to be confused with when Hell is a hotel, which is Mundane Afterlife.


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  • Spoofed in some of Verizon's many "dead zone" commercials.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Chainsaw Man: The Eternity Devil turns the eighth floor of a hotel into a looping area. The Devil Hunters, no matter what manner of exit they find, always find themselves back on the eight floor whenever they enter from another side of the room.
  • Gregory Horror Show takes place inside "Gregory House". The caretaker is trying to keep the guest there for all eternity, the other guests and staff alternate between trying to maim/kill the guest and drive them to insanity, and Gregory's mother wants to steal and eat the guest's soul. Oh and apparently once you sign in, true escape is impossible. Well, not quite true... the Guests could have escaped, but they deliberately chose not to as they couldn't bring themselves to face reality.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, the heroes stop by a hotel managed by Enya, who is DIO's confidante. She soon reveals that she's turned the whole town into zombies with her Stand, Justice, whom she controls to attack the group, starting with Polnareff.
  • Urusei Yatsura has a few instances with scary but harmless ones, and then the Tomibiki High kids encounter a real one when Mendo, Ataru and Ten get love messages in a bottle asking them to rendezvous at a hotel in Cockle Inlet. Despite being warned by locals that it's haunted by the evil ghosts of an old woman, a giant man and a beautiful girl (they're actually evil clam fairies), the guys still go - dragging Lum and Shinobu along with them. This being Urusei Yatsura the "ghosts" were lucky to escape with their lives though it took a bit of begging.
  • The Voynich Hotel has a lot of fun playing with this, as the title hotel is on a wartorn island populated by witches, undead witches, yakuza, ex-yakuza, yakuza ghosts, luchador hotel managers, suicidal chefs, Mafioso, assassins, drug dealers, government agents-turned-drug dealers, overly-curious children, demons, tigers, and a perverted robot detective.

    Comic Books 
  • Ghost Rider (2022): Johnny wanders across one in Issue #2 and decides to work there for a bit to earn money for his ongoing travel expenses. He soon discovers that the innkeeper is secretly an evil man who kidnaps his own tenants, offering them as sacrifices to a nightmarish demon living in the mines hidden deep within the premises in exchange for the demon's stash of priceless gemstones. In the end, Ghost Rider makes the innkeeper and his demonic patron pay dearly for their crimes, then burns their wretched motel to the ground for added measure.
  • Hotell is a mini-series by John Lees (of Sink and And Then Emily Was Gone fame) centered around the "Pierrot Courts Hotel", a motel by the side of Route 66 where every guest is forced to confront their demons — figurative or literal, when not both. Creepy nightmares, serial killers, ghosts, hallucinations and a Pierrot painting that moves when you're not looking are among the many treats awaiting the lost souls that end up in this bizarre place. And no need trying to look for it, because no motel by the name of Pierrot Courts actually exists on Route 66... Guests don't find the hotel, the hotel finds them. And then arrives the eclipse, when the real owner of the motel makes a visit.
    • Its sequel, Hotell Volume 2, makes the place even creepier. There's an ancient Lovecraftian temple underneath, the place can give people dangerous supernatural powers, and apparently it is sentient and feeding off people's negative emotions. Though it is nuanced, as it is also made clear that the place has "rules" and that if you manage to fight your literal/figurative demons, you are free to leave with a better appreciation of life. If not... Let's just say there's a reason the motel needs someone to "clean up" behind the guests.
  • Inspector Canardo: The desert motel in The Girl Who Dreamed of the Horizon doesn't look too bad, aside from being worn-down, but Canardo doesn't take long to figure out that the two owners have been disposing of several visitors to steal their belongings. It turns out they bit off more than they could chew when they killed a member of Rasputin's gang to take the drugs he was transporting.
  • Shade, the Changing Man: Hotel Shade has this quality, as lampshaded by Kathy and Lenny before they knew they were doomed to fight madness there. It didn't help that the first living tenant was a serial torture-killer, or the second one appeared to be a raving lunatic (he explained that he was a writer; they weren't reassured.) Corpses animated from the nearby graveyard, because that was the only way the Angels could communicate with Shade, but no one had any idea what was animating the hotel staff.
  • One Story Arc in Spawn involved a Hell Hotel, caused by the residents of an Apartment Complex being freed of personal restraint by The Violator.
  • Superlópez: The aptly named "Hotel Pánico". López, Luisa, and Jaime have to spend a night there when surprised by a storm on the road, and plenty of scary things happen to them. Eventually, Superlópez discovers that the whole thing was an idea of the owner, who wanted to spread the rumor of the weird incidents in the hotel to attract thrill-seeking customers, so this results in the closure of the hotel, which leaves all its staff jobless.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Room 1408. Good lord, 1408, but only room 1408. The rest of the Dolphin Hotel is quite nice.
  • Downplayed with the Hotel Luxor in Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse, which is run by a criminal gang who aren't (usually) directly killing the guests, but spying on them so that they can plot crimes to be committed elsewhere.
  • The Hotel Earle from Barton Fink. Starting with the name.
  • The Boy (2015) has this kind of hotel as its main setting, though the murders are not the fault of anything supernatural. The titular boy is responsible for them.
  • Cadaver (2020): The hotel in which most of the movie is set is one where large numbers of people are invited for dinner and an unconventional show, wherein the actors move about the hotel with the guests following the ones they find most interesting. In truth, it's all a trap, where the guests are dropped into catacombs beneath the rooms, where they're then grabbed by large people in white suits who kill them, and make them into food. Most of the actors may not have been aware of this, and are revolted when they find out.
  • The eponymous B&B from Dead And Breakfast, which is home to a Sealed Evil in a Can that touches off a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • In Cannibal Girls, the Reverend and his mistresses use the local bed and breakfast as their base of operations.
  • The Dead Pool briefly features a literal example, seen in a promotional poster for one of Peter Swan's low-budget horror movies: Hotel Satan (You check in. You die.)
  • The horror movie Followed (2018) is a found-footage movie covering the disappearance of the horror podcaster Drop The Mike while filming a Halloween vlog at the haunted Lennox Hotel. The Lennox Hotel itself is an Expy of the real-life Cecil Hotel, with its own versions of the cases of Richard Ramirez and Elisa Lam. Except here the haunts and devil-worship are real... And things get worse when the Korean Urban Legend of the "Elevator Game Ritual" gets involved.
  • Hell House LLC is set in the fictional Abaddon Hotel which is rumored to be this and is converted into a haunted house attraction. In the sequel Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel, it's definitely gotten worse and is revealed there's a portal to Hell in the basement.
  • Hostel has a backpacker hostel in Eastern Europe that is the front for a secret criminal organisation that allows wealthy international sadists to rape, torture, and murder the guests.
  • Inverted in the film Hotel Rwanda, where the hotel is the relatively safe place, and Hell is outside.
  • Identity was set in a motel no character could leave. They then proceed to fall victim to a killer in their midst, one by one.
  • The Innkeepers focuses on the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a purportedly haunted hotel in Connecticut, as two employees try to find proof of ghosts in the days before the inn is closed down for good.
  • The Pickman Hotel in In the Mouth of Madness. The place is creepy even before its clerk turns into a monster and butchers her husband.
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate: The Place of which Torgo takes care while The Master is away.
  • Motel Hell, where stranded travelers are rendered mute, 'planted' up to their necks in a garden behind the motel, then processed into smoked meats.
  • The Bates Motel from Psycho, which is overseen by Norman Bates.
  • The Crosses the Line Twice shootout finale of Punisher: War Zone takes place at one of these.
  • The Red Inn, name of five movies (between 1951 and 2007). In that hostel, the customers are killed at nighttime and their money stolen while the bodies are buried in the garden.
  • The abandoned desert motel from Resident Evil: Extinction.
  • The Bramford Apartment Complex in Rosemary's Baby, is not particularly frightening on its own. It does become scary when you learn that almost every one of its residents worships Satan and the Antichrist.
  • The hotel in See No Evil is inhabited by an Ax-Crazy serial killer with a penchant for ripping out people's eyes.
  • The Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Perhaps uniquely, the entire layout of the Overlook Hotel — once you notice it, anyway — is a startling case of Bizarrchitecture in film, by design. Stanley Kubrick laid the set out intentionally to mess with viewers' (and actors') perceptions.
  • The hotel in Silent Hill is where the Big Bad is staying.
  • The Hollywood Tower Hotel in the Made-for-TV Movie Tower of Terror, based, of course, and actually partially filmed using the exteriors of Hollywood Studios ride.
  • Vacancy sees a bickering couple stay at a seedy motel whose guests end up becoming the stars of snuff films made by the motel's proprietors.
  • The organ traffickers in Fleisch use the local fleabag hotel to capture their victims.




  • Stephen King:
    • The Shining: The Overlook Hotel, a remote hotel in the mountains plagued by evil ghosts. King describes the place as follows: "This inhuman place makes human monsters." It's actually a pretty normal hotel for most of the year- the trouble comes when it shuts down for the winter, leaving a single caretaker family snowed in for months.
    • 1408: Downplayed with Room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Only one room is actually a portal to something hellish, the rest of the hotel is quite pleasant, and the manager tries his damnedest to make sure no one but he and a select few of the staff ever go into that room.

Individual Works

  • There's the motel at "the centre" (the central point of the continental United States) in American Gods. That's a pretty creepy place. It is abandoned, but not technically haunted.
  • Even more so in the game, Dark Corners of the Earth, where the innkeeper's diary reveals that he routinely tortures and murders his customers for lulz.
  • Sarah Monette's short story "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek" features one of these.
  • The Three Cousins Motel in Feliks, Net & Nika: The Third Cousin. It's a creepy place in the middle of nowhere with paintings that paint themselves and rooms that change their dimensions a la House of Leaves. And the owners are two cousins that are creepy, old women (Actually witches. And the third one is the witch too.) that kidnap young women to have new bodies. Third Cousin is easily the scariest book in the series.
  • Frank Herbert's short story "Gambling Device."
  • In Half World, by Hiromi Goto, the sinister Mr. Glueskin is keeping Melanie's mother hostage in a creepy hotel.
  • The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series has the Lotus Hotel and Casino, a modernized version of the Island of the Lotus Eaters from The Odyssey. People go in, get sucked into the awesome food and activities, and lose all track of timenote  - when Percy, Annabeth, and Grover finally escape, they discover that what seemed like a few hours to them was in fact five days outside. Most people aren't that lucky, and they end up trapped for years.
  • The Hotel Denouement in A Series of Unfortunate Events is a variant. Although it's not especially creepy or unpleasant for the guests, the protagonists are employed there (under the bizarre or nonexistent child labor laws of their universe) as concierges. The hotel is organised by the Dewey Decimal Systemnote  for reasons which aren't explained until much later, and no index exist (the staff seem to be expected to memorize it). Also, the children are not given breaks, even for sleeping, they just have to kind of doze at the concierge desk.
  • In "Right Inn", one of the Tales for the Midnight Hour, a very set-in-his-routine salesman is forced by circumstances to spend the night in the eponymous motel, where he is subjected to a series of increasingly uncanny experiences and eventually passes out from the sheer horror. It turns out that the inn's sign was on the fritz and it's actually The Fright Inn, a theme motel for horror buffs.
  • The Talisman, co-written by Stephen King and Peter Straub, had two of these, one at the start where Lilly slowly died of cancer and then one at the end where the Talisman was held.
  • The sub-trope of "only one room" being haunted goes back to F. Marion Crawford's short story The Upper Berth (1894) where the haunting is not just in just one cabin on a ship, but mostly confined to the upper berth, leaving the person in the lower berth alone.
  • Parodied in the animal fantasy novel Welkin Weasels: Vampire Voles!, in which Scruff, for a prank, tricks Maudlin into thinking that their host is a serial killer.
  • The Inn of the Hungry Crocodile, in Egypt around 80 BCE, in Steven Saylor's Raiders of the Nile. The proprietor introduces himself as the Hungry Crocodile, explaining that what he's hungry for is money. He has an arrangement with bandits for them to kill and rob his guests.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: Hotel runs with this with the Hotel Cortez. Founded by a clear Expy of H. H. Holmes, then taken over by his vampire wife after his "mysterious disappearance." If her habit for fresh blood wasn't enough to add to the reputation, he still haunts the hotel and regularly has the ghosts of other serial killers over on Halloween.
  • The Hyperion Hotel on Angel was abandoned and haunted for several decades by a demon that fed off people's fear. Later a vampire and other assorted beings killed the demon and took control of the hotel themselves - but since they're the heroes, it probably doesn't count anymore.
  • The Bates Motel is the mysterious motel on the highway where Norman Bates gained his Start of Darkness and hides his family's screwed-up secrets. It naturally has a high number of mysterious disappearances surrounding it as well. It really doesn't help that throughout the series it always appears abandoned despite the vacancy sign reading open for new guests every day.
  • Crime Scene: The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel: The four-part Netflix docu-series explores the dark history of Los Angeles's Cecil Hotel including the supernatural mythology that surrounds the hotel, especially with respect to the 2013 disappearance and death of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam. The show firmly asserts that the hotel's location on Skid Row and its function as low-income housing for the indigent is what is responsible for the many dark incidents there.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Paradise" had a small roadside motel which was run by a serial rapist and killer, who would trap patrons in their room and psychologically and physically torture them before beating them to death.
    • The episode "Alchemy" was about men being drugged and killed in a mountain resort; the drugs given to one of the victims in the opening scene make him imagine the hotel walls turning into Meat Moss and sucking him in before he passes out.
  • In the CSI episode "Check In and Check Out", the team investigates multiple deadly incidents linked together by one specific room in a motel. It turns out that the air freshener dispenser in the bathroom of that room has been set up by the motel owner to dose the guests in that room with LSD so he can watch them tear each other apart.
  • Doctor Who: "The God Complex" has the Doctor, Amy, and Rory landing in an alien-created duplicate of a tacky '80s hotel where various people have been mysteriously transported as food for an Emotion Eater alien minotaur, with their greatest fears in the rooms. It's a hell for the minotaur, too.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: After getting depressed, thinking his friends no longer needed him, Mr. Potato Head stays at a run-down hotel in a dangerous neighborhood to mope.
  • Played with in Murder, She Wrote. It's not an actual motel that is the centre of a murder mystery, it's a movie set... of the Bates Motel. Well, the house overlooking the motel, but it plays both the house and motel for maximum suspense.
  • An episode of Newhart had Dick and Joanna traveling through a very rural area, only to stop at a small motel. The M in the Motel sign had burned out, prompting Dick to call it "Otel Hell"
  • The Resort in both mood (there's thundering and rain) and a supernatural sense.
  • Parodied in the "Jolly Boys' Outing" episode of Only Fools and Horses. The Trotters become stranded in Margate, but cannot find anywhere to stay the night, so they end up in a terrifying-looking guest house which in Rodney's words "looks like The Munsters' weekend place".
  • Cirque du Soleil's Widget Series Solstrom had an often-humorous version of this as the setting for an episode, "Howling Winds". An aging hotel is suddenly transformed into a Haunted Castle-esque one with a vampire waiter, an ogre bellboy, etc. — but a pair of newlyweds on their honeymoon, being Sickeningly Sweethearts, don't notice what's happened until it's far too late. Meanwhile, the confused owner tries to conduct business as usual despite the fact that he's slowly turning into a wolfman. Even Death takes a holiday here!
  • Supernatural
    • "Playthings" featured a haunted hotel.
    • "Hammer of the Gods" featured a hotel that had been taken over by pagan gods as a trap for the Winchesters and had locked the surviving guests in the larder.
  • Played with on Teen Wolf. "Motel California" is set in a motel whose creepy owner boasts about having the highest suicide rate of any hotel in America, and most of the main characters experience terrifying apparitions and try to kill themselves. However, the suicide rate is noted (when someone stops to do the maths) as not being that statistically unusual and the visions and self-harm attempts are caused by a mixture of hallucinogenic poison and psychic suggestion from a villain totally unrelated to the motel, and in one case by a character (unknown to themselves) being a banshee who is extra-sensitive to places where people have died.
  • Timeless: H. H. Holmes and his "Murder Castle" appear in "The World's Columbian Expedition". Flynn cruelly leads an unwitting Wyatt and Rufus to check in there during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, where they're put in danger. Lucy has to enlist the help of Harry Houdini in their rescue.
  • Truth Seekers: Double-subverted with the Portland Beacon, 'the only horror-themed hotel on Dorset's Jurassic coast'. Gus considers it to be banal and tacky, and wrote a derisive review of it in the White Sheet. It turns out that one of the rooms is haunted, but the management had closed it to visitors because of what they believed to be faulty wiring.
  • The trope naming song is inspired by "A Nice Place To Visit", an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959).

  • The video for "The Kill" by 30 Seconds to Mars is a direct homage to The Shining—specifically, Kubrick's film version. In the video, the band members wander the corridors of an otherwise deserted hotel, encountering various ghostly inhabitants before respectively coming face-to-face with their own evil, tuxedoed dopplegangers.
    • In the same vein, the video for "Spit It Out" by Slipknot is also an homage to The Shining. The band wanders around the hotel, encounters the twins, and gets lost in a human maze.
  • The song "Vertigo Motel" by Dog Fashion Disco.
  • "Hotel California", by The Eagles. The "Hotel" is apparently an allegory for the Southern California music industry of the mid-Seventies, or drug addiction, or who knows, just Southern California. On the surface, the song describes the tale of a weary traveler who becomes trapped in a nightmarish luxury hotel that, at first, appeared inviting and tempting. This is an example where the hotel may or may not actually be Hell.
    "You can check out any time you like/But you can never leave."
    • On a related note, Cledus T. Judd's parody of this song, "Motel Californie." The titular motel really is an awful place, in serious disrepair and filthy, but it gets worse near the end when he's trying to get clean linens and finds the proprietor stabbed to death.
  • "Home By The Sea" by Genesis, complete with inhuman spectres wandering around. Although unclear whether the building in question is really a hotel — it may be a retirement home.
  • Homer and Jethro's song "Hart-Brake Motel," parody of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
  • The music video for Opeth's song "Porcelain Heart" takes place in a hotel that looks eerily like the hotel from Silent Hill 2.
  • The video for "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers, features the unbelievably creepy "Hotel Paradise", with Betty Boop-style animation. Think of it as Max Fleischer presents 1408.
  • Supertramp, "Gone Hollywood".
    I'm in this dumb motel
    Near the Taco Bell
    Without a hope in Hell
    I can't believe that I'm still around
  • The trope namer, "Hell Hotel", by They Might Be Giants, from their 1985 Demo Tape. Supposedly based on the episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), "A Nice Place to Visit", except about a hotel.
  • "Kross Roads Inn" by Twiztid is about a legendary hotel that, due to an ancient pagan curse, kills anyone who spends one night there and traps their spirits in the hotel forever. Twiztid themselves play a couple of thrill-seeking ghost hunters who seek to disprove the myths and urban legends surrounding the place. As soon as they sign in, they're harassed by spirits. They try to leave, but the building warps and alters to keep them there forever.

  • Nan Quest features a hotel that's both a Timey-Wimey Ball and an Eldritch Location, trapping unsuspecting guests into a Pocket Dimension that's also home to a number of Eldritch Abominations known as the "Uninvited Things" which, apparently, aren't all on the same side. The hotel itself, built from a holy place, is actually on the side of good, but can't do much to help.
  • Survival of the Fittest version 2 had one of these. It became one of the bloodiest places in the game - no fewer than fifteen students met their ends somewhere within it. Escapades taking place there included (and were not limited to): murder (duh), castration, evisceration, and necrophilia. The V2 hotel was not a fun place.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The first adventure in the Agents of Edgewatch adventure path for Pathfinder Second Edition is titled Devil at the Dreaming Palace and culminates in an exploration of a serial killer's deathtrap-laden hotel. As indicated by the name, the adventure is a homage to Devil In the White City, a book about real-life killer H. H. Holmes (as seen in the Real Life section below).

  • Hell in No Exit is a hotel. A rather normal looking hotel, at that. Except that roommates are specifically chosen to drive each other crazy, and they're locked in there forever. But not really. The door isn't locked, but nobody has the strength of character necessary to leave, even when the door just pops open at the end.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's various theme parks is built on this theme. "The Hollywood Tower Hotel" allegedly lost a lot of business after a bolt of lightning removed two or three whole "wings" from the front of the building and sent an elevator (plus its five occupants) to another dimension in 1939. That tends to look bad on any hotel's record. It's gotten an "Attractionistas" souvenir doll, Holly, a creepy bellhop.
  • A real example, the "Legendary Years" wing of Walt Disney World's Pop Century Resort was abandoned in 2002 due to 9/11 related tourism dips. Since then, the economy roared and now once again whimpers, and in all that time the structures remained left behind, the only thing complete being the parking lot. In 2012, the empty resort finally opened as Disney's Art of Animation Resort, making this a subversion of the trope.

    Video Games 
  • Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time: "The Greatest Escape" involves Bugs following Rocky and Mugsy into an old, condemned hotel full of hazards around each room.
  • The setting of Trilby's Notes, the third chapter in the Chzo Mythos series. At first, it seems the hotel is rather normal, but then the protagonist begins warping into a much darker and messed up version.
  • The Innsmouth hotel in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Not only is the hotel falling apart and owned by a decidedly creepy host, but Jack finds a back office covered in blood and full of body parts, with a log book detailing how the owner has been torturing guests to death and eating them. And then, to round out the overall experience, he has a surprise 'wake-up call' by a mob of the town's residents in the middle of the night and has to escape.
  • Control has the Oceanview Motel & Casino, an Eldritch Location that can only be teleported to by pulling randomly placed lightswitches three times and can only be exited by solving strange puzzles in its rooms. While Jesse is never in any personal danger in it, there are still creepy things implied to be happening, such as a pool of blood developing from under one of the doors after a scream is heard. It's suggested to be a sort of shared dream, rather than a physical location... but then one time you go to it you can hear a husband and wife outside wondering why the hell this motel is locked up tight in the middle of the day, which complicates things even more.
  • The Crooked Man has Hotel Ruenheim, a run-down abandoned hotel, where you meet a girl named Sissi... and also where you first encounter the titular Crooked Man.
  • And there's the Dowerton Station Hotel in Dark Fall that's really haunted and disturbingly clean, so much that two ghost hunters came down to find out. Its sequel version in Lost Souls, though, fits this trope to a T.
  • The Edisons' motel in Day of the Tentacle. It's pretty normal right now, but it used to be called "Maniac Mansion" before, and its owner Dr. Fred Edison was a brainwashed Mad Doctor before the protagonists restored him to normal. Remnants of its creepy past are still there: they include a mummified Cousin Ted who stands nearby the hotel as a decorative statue, Dr. Fred's lab in the basement, and two alien tentacles (Green and Purple) who still reside in the building.
  • At Dead of Night primarily takes place in the Sea View Hotel, where the protagonist and player character Maya is being chased around by Jimmy Hall.
  • Death Come True: The main setting is a hotel unsettlingly empty besides a masked man who is trying to kill Makoto.
  • The Quiet Haven Hotel from the indie adventure game, Downfall (2009), where the main character, Joe Davis, wakes up in the middle of the night to find out that his supposedly schizophrenic wife, Ivy's, visions of terror about the hotel have suddenly become far too real for his liking.
  • The Victory Hotel in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is particularly jarring if you played the original The Longest Journey since it was formerly the friendly, cheerful safe haven for April…
  • One of the last levels of Duke Nukem 3D is named "Hotel Hell". Of course, the actual hotel in the level would probably be perfectly nice if not filled with aliens trying to kill you.
  • Earthbound Series:
    • In EarthBound Beginnings, the hotel in Spookane is similarly run by a Starman who attacks if the party tries to stay the night there. Unlike the above example, the Spookane hotel never returns to "normal" and is abandoned for the rest of the game.
    • In EarthBound (1994), the Threed hotel briefly becomes one of these when Ness and Paula are Lured into a Trap and get sent to a confined area.
  • Eternal Evil has the ghoul-infested Cross Hotel which is Hank's first area, filled with assorted monsters including a Giant Spider boss and a tank-sized scorpion.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3, the Statesman Hotel. It is filled to the brim with Super Mutants, Centaurs, and mines. You can come here for an optional sidequest to save the Riley's Rangers. The Homestead Motel from Point Lookout is closer to the trope. There are three explorable rooms. 1D holds a dead Chinese spy killed before he could start his mission. 1G holds the skeletons of two bank robbers who died in a gunfight with each over about how to split the cash. Finally, 1K holds a Clown Masked serial killer's bloody satanic altar made of body parts.
    • Fallout: New Vegas brings us the El Rey Motel. Every bit as ramshackle as the Statesman, but populated with angry drug addicts instead of Super Mutants.
      • Also in New Vegas, the Lucky 38 casino is a milder example. While not actually dangerous (unless you betray the Mr. House and he sicks his robots on you), it has a very strong Hell Hotel atmosphere, being a once-popular and successful casino that no living being has entered in over 200 years. It's mostly unlit and eerily silent, but otherwise completely untouched by anything except time. The place would probably become less creepy if there were any actual dangerous critters living there. Also, the player lives there for the later half of the game. And no, you can't redecorate to make it a bit more inviting.
      • Of course, perhaps the ultimate example of a Hell Hotel in New Vegas is the Sierra Madre, the centerpiece of the Dead Money expansion. A sprawling, labyrinthine villa, the Sierra Madre exists somewhere in the desert, though no one is quite sure where it is. A red, poisonous fog permeates the area. Ghostly figures wander the streets, attacking anyone who comes their way. Radios murmur to no one and put out signals that might interfere with your Explosive Leash. And, of course, there are lots and lots of Apocalyptic Logs to find (including ones that are hologram recordings of many guests' final moments when the bombs fell, doomed to repeat for eternity).
      • There's also a minor example in the Mesquite Mountain Crater, an isolated and heavily irradiated crater in the far west of the map, guarded by several Feral Ghoul Reavers. Around the crater, there's a small building which, upon entering, you can find a dead ghoul named Dr. Rotson and a hostile robot. What it has to do with this trope? Well, the interior of the building is literally named Hell's Motel.
  • There's a fake haunted hotel in the Golden Saucer in Final Fantasy VII, where Cloud and his party can rest up.
  • Fur Fighters has a literal hotel inside of Hell itself. While inside Hell, the player will be forced to play through every character's personal hell including: climbing back into a nest that the character likely fell out of as a baby and is significantly larger in memory, running through the streets naked while attacked by the military, dealing with undead alligators in a quarry, navigating a maze in which you can see all of the enemies, but none of the walls, shooting insane children trying to kill you at a dinner party, and reliving old war memories. Despite how silly some of these may seem, the game treats every single one with a sinister tone. Throughout the hotel, besides the six rooms you are forced to enter just to clear the stage, you can see dozens and dozens of doors with bear motifs above them implying that each room is made for each bear in Hell. Additionally, while waltzing about the hallway, you'll be shot at by bears who seemingly appear from nowhere.
  • Stage C of Galerians is set entirely in the Babylon Hotel, a crumbling, noir-ish place that prostitutes, would-be terrorists, and (of course) drug dealers appear to call home. Only two of the characters that turn up in the hotel leave it alive.
  • The Sedgewick Hotel in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, not in the first time when you're sent there, but when you visit it the 2nd time around…
  • The Golden Krone Hotel is filled with vampires and other monsters.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode 2 provides a variation with its frighteningly intense Inn battle.
  • Haunted Hotel is a hidden object game series where each game takes place in a abandoned/haunted hotel and the protagonists have to survive.
  • Hitman: Contracts: In one mission, when 47 is signing in at the hotel reception, one of the rooms on the signature pad is listed as 666, even though the hotel only has around 310 rooms. In the northeast corner of the Hotel Gallard, a ghost can be found floating in the hallways of the restricted wing. It is assumed that this is the spirit of the deceased guest, whose corpse can be found in one of the nearby rooms.
  • The Jackbox Party Pack: Trivia Murder Party 2 takes place in the Murder Hotel, where the poor souls that book a night are held hostage by a Serial Killer and forced to play a Deadly Game... of trivia.
    [REDACTED]: This is your wake up call! Prepare to die!
  • Johnny Bazookatone has Hotel Demonique, the second level of the game. It features several elevators, an attic, and a disco where you must defeat the Concierge and rescue the captive Soul Guy.
  • LISA has the Resort Island, an island hotel populated by several non-hostile mutants with deformed faces who seems to idolize a crudely-made giant sculpture of a trumpet. While it's not a dangerous place, it's definitely disturbing.
  • The venerable, historic hotel in Max Payne. Max, an undercover cop, has free reign to climb all the way to the penthouse suite; however, once his cover is blown, the fire escapes are locked and the hopeless elevators aren't buzzing to life anytime soon. Max has to blast his way back to the lobby. The hotel itself is falling apart, as the only customers are drug dealers and johns.
  • Mystery Case Files: Rewind begins with The Master Detective being trapped in the weird and very creepy Hotel Victory with many characters from his past (and we mean that literally, as they all have been brought here from the past via Time Travel).
  • Nightmare mostly takes place in one of these, it's abandoned and smeared with blood in places.
  • The indie adventure/hidden object game Phantasmat has the delightfully-named "Drowned Dead Hotel", perched on a cliff above a flooded town, complete with requisite creepy owner and residents.
  • Cairo-Stewart Hotel in Pharaoh Rebirth should be a normal luxury hotel, but one bad guy turned all of the staff against you, there are falling chandeliers and deadly spikes everywhere, one elevator is haunted and infested with the spirits of the dead, and to top it off the same bad guy is trying to murder us with a Kill Sat! The bonus level added to the Steam version of the game is another example: Anubis took over the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, turned the staff into humanoid animals, and put even more deadly spikes everywhere.
  • The Old Chateau and Canalave Inn, which are both haunted, in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
  • Stage 3-3 from Purple is a hotel that is riddled with spikes, inhabited by bats, has very low-quality rooms and it has only one toilet which is the only way to access the second building. Who would be this sadist is a question for anyone.
  • The Apple Inn of Resident Evil: Outbreak, which was both packed with monsters and on fire.
  • Resident Evil RE Visited, a Fan Game, starts its opening act with Trent arriving at a motel that doubles as a secret entrance to the Spencer Mansion Lab. Unfortunately, the lab's T-Virus outbreak spread out and infected both Umbrella personnel and unwitting normal customers.
  • The Secret World provides a literal example of this trope, with a hotel that contains portals to hell.
  • The Lakeview Hotel from Silent Hill 2 is the final area of the game and the location of The Reveal.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • The Timberline Hotel in The Suicide of Rachel Foster was a neat mountain hotel in its heyday, accommodating hikers and skiers alike. However, since Rachel's death 10 years ago, it doesn't fare well financially, leading to its slow deterioration. The second floor experiences serious water damage, and an entire wing lacking windows because of an aborted renovation, making that part completely falling apart. To add to the creepiness of the place, the hotel has recently closed down due to the death of the owner, making Nichole being alone in the whole building (or not, but the alternate scenario is probably even worse).
  • TimeSplitters Future Perfect:
    • There's an arcade-mode map that's set in a creepy, run-down hotel with flickering lights, a misty outside 'arena', and the recommended AI-controlled characters are mostly zombies. And the music makes it so much worse…
    • The map editor allows the player to essentially create their own haunted hotel by using the hotel map tileset. Within, the player can use standard creepy furniture and even dungeon tiles for possibly a deadly basement.
  • Urban Rivals the Berzerks reside in the Red One Hotel where its occupants are afflicted by some gas that turns them into red-skinned, hyper-aggressive people who'll pulverize anyone in arms reach.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the player character must exorcise the two ghosts trapped in the Ocean House Hotel.
    • Also, the Los Angeles Sabbat have taken up residence in the abandoned Hallowbrook Hotel, which the player character must also visit close to the end of the game; while most of it is a decrepit ruin used only for sheltering the Sabbat mooks from the sun, the basement has been converted into a slaughterhouse for their leader, Andrei the Tzimisce, filled with mutilated bodies and thick puddles of blood. This is also where Heather Poe, your ghoul, can meet her unfortunate death, depending on your choices.
    • What really makes the first hotel scary is the cleverest element about it. It builds up the tension throughout your progression through the building, relying on atmosphere and environment along with the build-up of this brutal murder story to make the player psych him/herself out. It keeps building and building, and you're waiting for something to happen—some monster to pop out and fight you. There is no monster or any combat whatsoever in this level.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Inverted in Hazbin Hotel, which is a literal hell hotel meant to reform the damned.
  • Season 2 of Marble Hornets opens in one, although its creepiness doesn't become apparent till a few episodes later when Jay realizes that he and Jessica are the only customers in the hotel. Just when he decides to leave, Masky shows up.
  • From the same mythos: the Halloween 2011 episode of Tribe Twelve lands Noah in one. Unlike Jay, Noah barely has time to unpack before the creepiness starts.
  • The Cultaholic team have inflicted this upon each other as part of forfeits for failing inter-office challenges. In particular, Adam was sent to spend the night in the lowest-rated hotel in Britain; he found used no2 canisters in the bedside table, blood (and more...) on the mattress, his bedroom door had no catch OR lock, and he was awoken at 1am by a couple loudly fornicating in a nearby room.

    Western Animation 
  • Shake, Rattle and Roll, a segment of 1977's CB Bears, were three ghosts that ran a hotel for ghouls, ghosts, and monsters. Seeking to eliminate them was ghost exterminator Sidney Merciless.
  • Count Duckula: The Hard Luck Hotel in the episode of the same name. The sign's falling apart, the whole place is a mess, the manager's a smarmy Jerkass, the "economy" rooms have no furniture or door locks, and the "complaints department" is a dog that eats guests who complain.
  • Katz Motel from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Staffed by what is the cruelest villain in the series, Katz (that is until "Remembrance of Courage's Past" in which The Cruel Vet took that position). You'll be fed to spiders by morning (Oh, and No Dogs Allowed).
  • The Cobweb Hotel in a Fleischer Studios short of the same name. Well, it's a Hell Hotel to flies, anyway.
  • An episode of Garfield and Friends, "The Sludge Monster", is set largely in a hotel haunted by the titular being.
  • The Hotel Cabal from Gargoyles. Not actually haunted, but filled with death traps designed to drive prisoners insane and impossible to leave without one of the special keys.
  • An episode of Legion of Super-Heroes, "Fear Factory," featured a space-station version that was a lot like a mysterious mansion, with the butler and being invited to dinner.
  • One of Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes cartoons, "Claws For Alarm", has Porky Pig and his pet cat Sylvester staying at a ghost town hotel populated by murderous mice. Sylvester is aware of the horrors, but, being a pet, is mute and can't orally communicate it to his oblivious master.
  • An episode of Martin Mystery had a luxury hotel being haunted by the ghost of its founder.
  • Every hotel ever visited by the Scooby-Doo gang. All of them were scary but for twenty-plus years none of them had real monsters. Unless Sonny and Cher count. The Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? episode "Too Many Dummies" has such a motel that's actually set up as an intentional reference to Psycho!
  • The motel that Taz and Bushwacker Bob stay at in the Taz-Mania episode "A Midsummer Night's Scream". The desk clerk is an Expy of Peter Lorre.
  • Toy Story of Terror takes place in a motel. It's actually quite nice, and the manager is very friendly... if you're a human. If you're a toy, he will send his pet iguana to capture you and sell you to unsuspecting internet bidders.

    Real Life 
  • H. H. Holmes' "Castle". Custom-designed by one of America's first Serial Killers, it came complete with secret passages and a Torture Cellar. It's not clear how many people he actually killed, since when he was caught, he just ran with it and started making victims up, including several people he claimed to have murdered that were still alive or who died in completely different circumstances. He claimed 200 and confessed to 27, but only nine were ever anything like confirmed (and four of those were after he left Chicago). The "hotel" part of the building was never actually completed, it was just a small apartment complex with storefronts on the first floor (making the higher numbers extremely unlikely). When he was executed, a vigilante set the place on fire, but the damage was limited enough that the building was repaired and stayed in use for another forty years before being replaced by a Post Office branch.
  • The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles was like this for many years, as it went out of business after Robert F. Kennedy's assassination there. It was often used as a police training ground, as depicted in S.W.A.T., and as a filming location and backdrop for movies and television programs (e.g. Roy Orbison chose it to film a TV special in 1988). It was ultimately demolished in 2005, and a complex of public schools were built in its place.
  • Also located in Los Angeles is Stay on Main, more commonly known as the Cecil Hotel, which is notorious for its history of suicides and violent deaths, counting serial killers Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger among its guests, being linked to the "Black Dahlia" case, and for the mysterious demise of Elisa Lam. The hotel closed in 2017 but was renovated into an affordable housing complex in 2021.
    • The Elisa Lam incident was notorious for making the hotel hell for all of the guests for days. In the days after she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, guests complained of problems with the hotel's running water. Namely, the water from the taps and showerheads would come out black and reportedly tasted funny. Oh, and it also had low pressure. When someone finally went to the hotel's water tank to check the problem, they found Lam's body inside. A 2021 docu-series, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel, explored the mythology around the tragic incident, the history of the hotel, and the many online sleuths who became obsessed with the case.
  • The abandoned Coco Palms resort on Kauai in Hawaii. The resort was heavily damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1994 and closed shortly afterwards. The property sat abandoned for eleven years until plans emerged to rebuild the resort. The projected opening date in 2018 came and went, the company that owned the land fell into financial difficulties and was forced to sell, once again throwing the resort's fate into uncertainty.
  • Many of the abandoned hotels dotting the United States could fall under this.

Alternative Title(s): Haunted Hotel