I spent the night at the most haunted hotel in the UK – check out these bone-chilling ghost stories from the Mermaid Inn!
The Mermaid Inn is a Grade II listed historical inn located in Rye, East Sussex, UK. It’s not only a truly unique historic building and a favourite place to stay for celebrities, but also one of the most haunted hotels in the UK, if not the whole world!
Full of historical character and charm, The Mermaid Inn has 35 unique rooms and sits on Mermaid Street, which was once the town’s main road. Lined with crooked cottages and half-timbered houses, the narrow, cobbled Mermaid Street is one of the UK’s most picturesque views.
The Mermaid Inn has a long and fascinating history. The current building dates from 1420 and has 16th-century additions in the Tudor style, but the cellars date back to 1156!
During medieval times the inn was a notable alehouse, brewing its own ale and charging a penny a night for lodging. It became popular with sailors who came to the port of Rye. Catholic priests who had fled from Continental Europe escaping from the Reformation during 1530 also stayed in the inn.
Magnificent four-poster carved beds, fine oak wood panelling, uneven creaky wooden floors, narrow corridors, sloping ceilings, Caen stone fireplaces, latticed windows and numerous secret passages make you feel like you have stepped back in time. All the furnishings are genuine relics from bygone eras and come complete with mysterious auras. Each room is named after a person associated with the history of the inn and Rye.
The inn has two comfortable lounges and a cosy bar with one of the largest log fires in the country, a pretty terrace, courtyard garden and an AA Rosette-winning restaurant. The restaurant serves a variety of delightful French and British cuisine, made from fresh local ingredients.
Famous guests who have stayed at the Mermaid Inn include: Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Sophia Lauren, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Dame Judy Dench, Pierce Brosnan, Andy Garcia, Prince Edward and Elizabeth (Queen Mother).
As the Mermaid Inn is well known for its hauntings, it has been subject to an investigation on the very popular Most Haunted TV series, as well as other paranormal TV programmes. The Most Haunted TV show’s film crew captured “orbs” on screen during their 2002 visit.
The hotel is said to be haunted by several different ghosts. Over the years, the guests have been consistently reporting seeing the same things in the same rooms.
Many of the feared ghosts are said to be linked to the smugglers from the notorious Hawkhurst Gang. Named after their home village of Hawkhurst and made up of around 600 men, they were one of the most famous gang of smugglers who controlled territory from Kent to Dorset. Some of the smugglers, their mistresses and other characters linked to the gang are reported to haunt the inn.
The Hawkhurst Gang seized the Mermaid Inn in the 1700s. They made use of the inn’s secret passages and labyrithine tunnels underneath the inn to move smuggled goods and for a quick getaway. They controlled the large swathe of land until their leaders, Arthur Gray and Thomas Kingsmill, were executed in 1748 and 1749.
Today, the Mermaid Inn is a very popular hotel, restaurant and pub. Set in a beautiful location, it offers unique accomodation and delicious food. Due to its rich and fascinating history and repuation of being the most haunted hotel in the UK, it attracts historians, ghost hunters and travellers from all over the world.
There have been numerous reports from both guests and staff of paranormal activity taking place at the hotel. Let’s look into the most common incidents below. I am also sharing my personal experience of staying at this most haunted hotel in the UK!
Ghost stories from the Mermaid Inn
Room 16: The Elizabethan Bedchamber
There is a secret passage, oubliette and a well-worn staircase to the old kitchen (now the bar) in this room – an ideal escape for smugglers!
Guests have been reporting seeing a duel being fought in this room. The loser would be thrown down the stairs of the secret passage and landing in the parts of the hotel that is now the bar.
Actress Kiki Kendrick and her husband Robin stayed in this room in December 1993 and woke up at 4am to an “eerie presence” in the room. At the time, they said: “The warm room had suddenly turned strangely cold and we could hear a fight going on in the corner of the room. By the fireplace there were huffs and puffs and sounds of clashing knives. We could see shapes moving. They fought violently. It was very scary. The next morning we told the barman who produced a newspaper article revealing how two journalists had endured the exact same experience just six months before.”
One of the guests set up a night camera in an attempt to capture any paranormal activity. It recorded movement of swords and the shadow of a “figure” in the corner of the room.
Two guests returning from their walk around the town looked up at the window of the room and saw silhouettes of people against the closed curtains. Once they entered the room, no one was inside.
Another incident involving this room took place when the barman was tending to the fire and all the bottles on the shelf at the other end of the room fell off. He handed in his notice the following day.
Room 17: Kingsmill
This room has sealed up passages to the Inn’s south wing and through the oak panelling to the ‘Rye Royal’ room.
The guests have been reporting sudden drops in temperature in the room, as well as the rocking chair starting to rock on its own. Apparently the chambermaids would only clean the room in pairs as they do not like to be in there by themselves.
There have also been “orbs” floating around the room captured on photographs.
Many guests who have stayed in the room have reported feeling “sudden cold chills” and “rattling” noises throughout the night.
One guest sat in the chair to take a photo when she felt something push into her and turned cold. When she and her partner looked back at the photo, it contained strange orbs floating around the room, which could not be explained.
Another guest got woken up at 3.30am by someone rattling on the door.
A female guest was sitting at the dressing table when suddenly the door to the room flew open by itself. There was nobody there but there was a “chill” hanging in the doorway.”
Room 5: Nutcracker Suite
A lady in white has been seen to walk through from the single room across the main room and through the door, stopping at the foot of the single bed for a moment on her way past.
Many guests have also reported seeing her figure sitting in the chair by the hotel’s main fireplace.
Room 15: Dr Syn’s Bedchamber
A film crew was testing the strength of the light in this room prior to filming and suddenly their equipment started to pick up lighted orbs moving around the room. These were not visible to the naked eye.
Some time ago a medium wanted to carry out a séance in this room and upon receiving permission from the owner, five members of staff agreed to take part. During the séance, the medium’s face and voice changed. He told the group that a figure with a dog had entered the room and was standing in the corner.
No-one could see anything, but when each one put their hand out, part of their hand or arm disappeared into what appeared to be a shadow, and they all confirmed they “touched” something that felt like a dog.
There is a secret stairway concealed behind the bookcase in this room!
Room 19: Hawkhurst Suite
An American lady sleeping in the single room of the suite reported that a gentleman in old-fashioned clothing sat on her bed during the night. When he would not go away, she moved into the double room, where her sons were sleeping, and stayed there until morning.
Room 3: Moreton
A gentleman staying in this room reported that whilst his wife was in the bathroom and he was in bed on his own, he felt a strange sensation of being kicked in the back and then a sense of well-being washed over him.
Room 1: James
There have been lots of reports of a “Lady in White”, who has been seen to sit in the chair by the fireplace. Guests, many weeks apart, have recounted the same story of having left their clothes on this chair during the night and when they have woken in the morning, they have found their clothes soaking wet. There are no windows or pipes near the chair which could explain this.
A couple who stayed in this room reported to reception that the husband saw a family consisting of what appeared to be a mother, father and child walking through the wall to the other side of the room at night.
Room 10: Fleur De Lys
Two guests staying in this room awoke to find a man walking through their bathroom wall and across the centre of the room. They were so frightened that they spent the rest of the night downstairs in one of the lounges and made the porter bring all their luggage and clothes downstairs.
My stay at the Mermaid Inn
I had been fascinated by the ghost stories from the Mermaid Inn and for some, mysterious to me at the present time, reason I decided it was a great idea to spend the night at this most haunted hotel in the UK.
My other half is used to my crazy ideas so we did not wait long until we found ourselves checking in to room number 5, called the Nutcracker Suite, accessed by a private staircase located on the second floor.
I was both terrified and spellbound by the inn’s mysterious atmosphere. The room was actually, as the name suggests, a suite that consisted of a large bedroom with a double and single bed, a small bedroom with two single beds and a bathroom.
There was a mysterious second door in the bathroom with a narrow wooden spiral staircase behind it. It was one of the secret passages of the Mermaid Inn, used as an escape route by priests and smugglers.
I asked the porter about the hauntings reported by the guests who stayed in this room. He explained that a lady in white had been seen walking through the room and stopped to stroke the leg of whoever was sleeping in the single bed in the large bedroom! He told us it had been last reported a few days before.
Based on this important piece of information we decided that we were both going to sleep in the single bed. Because this is what you do when you have a double bed and another two single beds available!
We went downstairs for dinner and I could not recommend the inn’s restaurant enough. The food was absolutely delicious!
The waiter asked whether we were staying for the night and when we confirmed we were, a mysterious smile appeared on his face which I found very concerning. I had this impression that everyone employed there had known and accepted the place was haunted!
We then went back to our room and after nervously watching some TV, it was time for bed. I love my sleep but on this one occasion I was not looking forward to it at all. We managed to squeeze into the single bed and we turned off the lights.
I must say it was a nerve-wracking night for me. I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night waiting for the lady in white to walk into the room and stroke my leg! I was absolutely terrified and wondered whose stupid idea it was to stay there for the night. My other half did not seem too bothered as he started snoring pretty much as soon as he closed his eyes.
So what actually happened that night?
I dozed off several times so unfortunately I cannot account for the whole night. During the time I was awake I did not see the lady in white however I definitely felt unexpected cold chills and odd noises at night, such as creaking floorboards and rattling of the door handle! I examined the door and outside of our room the next morning and there was absolutely no possibility of a draft which could have made the door rattle like this.
Overall, I am clearly not the right person to conduct paranormal investigations. We spent the next day exploring the cobbled streets of Rye and returned home in the evening for some much needed sleep.
The Mermaid Inn is a very unique hotel and I would love to stay there again. I hope I find the courage…
Will you dare to stay the night?
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