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After Five Nights at Freddy's: 5 Scariest Real-Life Places You Can Spend a Night
Where to go, or where not to go, on your next vacation - after spending Five Nights at Freddy's, of course.
For a certain generation of us, there was no beating a night out at Chuck E. Cheese. You’d eat pizza, run around with your friends, and play video games. And if you had to endure the unblinking gaze of a lifeless robotic rat, so be it. The days of the animatronic family restaurant are numbered and few, but they’re enjoying something of a second life in pop culture, through the lens of the video game Five Nights at Freddy's, soon to be a feature film.
In the movie, premiering in theaters and on Peacock October 27, hapless security guard Mike (Josh Hutcherson) starts a gig at the now-abandoned Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a fictional restaurant loosely based on Chuck E. Cheese. Unbeknownst to Mike, while the restaurant might be dead, its animatronic mascots are alive… and they’re not happy.
Freddy’s is unfortunately (or fortunately) fictional, but there are plenty of spooky places to lay down your head if you want to try and survive the night.
What are the Scariest Real-Life Places Where You Can Actually Go Spend the Night?
A Weekend Getaway to Chernobyl
On April 26, 1986, Chernobyl’s reactor 4 exploded, spreading radioactive material hither and yon. Over the coming weeks and months, the surrounding area was evacuated, and a concerted effort was made to contain the disaster.
In the end, hundreds of people were hospitalized or killed by radiation sickness and countless more died later on, from the lingering effects of radiation. The ongoing health impact remains unknown. As part of lasting safety efforts, a 10 kilometer exclusion zone was placed around the reactor, later increased to 30 kilometers. Fortunately, enough time has passed so that the area isn’t hopelessly dangerous. Today, tourists are allowed into the area for limited visits. You can even visit reactor 4’s control room to see where everything went down.
The general wisdom is to pop in and out for a few hours at a time to minimize your exposure to ionizing radiation, but there are hotel rooms available in the outer exclusion zone if you want to extend your stay overnight.
Sleepover in the Paris Catacombs
In the 18th century, France had a huge problem of too many corpses and nowhere to put them. Their solution, scrappy as it might have been, was to collect the bodies from their supposed final resting places and relocate them to mass graves at the bottom of mineshafts. The result was a lumbering pile of bodies some six million strong, a few dozen feet beneath Paris.
By the 19th century, work began to transform the scattered mass grave into something a living person might want to look at. Much of that work involved constructing walls and other decorative structures out of the only real material on offer, the naked bones of the dead. Today, you can travel tunnels nestled between walls made of human skulls and bones.
Generally speaking, it’s not the sort of place you stay the night — a sign above the entrance reads Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort (Stop! This is the empire of Death) — but in 2015 a couple of people got the chance. Airbnb ran a special contest during which one person and a guest got to spend the night with a bed, private violin concert, and meals included, in a candlelit cavern with a few million corpses.
Sentenced to 3 Days, 2 Nights at the Liberty Hotel
Today, the Liberty is a luxury hotel, but it began life as Boston’s Charles Street Jail in 1851. A number of notable prisoners came through its walls during its time, including Albert DeSalvo, the infamous Boston Strangler. Over the years, the prison fell into disrepair and conditions declined such that the prison population rioted in 1973.
Around the same time, the prison was declared unsuitable (ostensibly for overcrowding) but remained in operation for nearly two decades more. The last prisoner wasn’t moved until 1990. About a decade later, the prison was transformed into the Liberty Hotel. The décor and the vibe have certainly changed but the overall structure is intact.
Visitors can stroll the walkways where prison guards once patrolled before retiring to a private room (no open air cells these days) or visiting the on-site restaurant, appropriately named Clink.
Centralia, Pennsylvania, Modern Ghost Town
Centralia was born, like so many towns before it, to serve the needs of growing mining operations. In the mid-1800s, vast coal deposits were identified, and a number of mines sprung up. Mining continued mostly unfettered until the 1960s when an underground fire broke out.
It isn’t clear how the fire started but it has been raging since at least 1962 and is still busily converting fossil fuels into fire today. After it was identified, the fire continued quietly underground with the townspeople mostly ignoring it until 1981. That’s when a sinkhole opened up and swallowed a 12-year-old kid. Fortunately, he had the reflexes of an action hero and grabbed onto a tree branch, saving himself.
Still, the debate raged on, much like the underground fire, for another decade until the town was placed under eminent domain in 1992. The buildings were condemned, purchased, and largely demolished. A few holdouts remained and, in 2012, won the right to remain in their homes for the remainder of their lives. In 1980 there was an estimated population of 1,000 people; as of 2020, there were only five.
Of course, there aren’t any hotels to rent out in Centralia, at least not any with anyone working the counter, but there are camp sites where you can pitch a tent. Although, we’re not sure you’d want to.
The Hotel That Scared Stephen King
In 1903, Freelan Stanley (inventor of the steam-powered car, in case you didn’t know) arrived in Colorado fleeing tuberculosis; the prevailing wisdom at the time being that crisp mountain air might cure what ailed him. We’re not sure the medical science holds up, but Stanley lived to 91, in any event.
The hotel offers nightly haunted tours around the hotel grounds, but its actual haunted history is dubious at best. The Stanley’s major claim to fame is an association with Stephen King, author of every nightmare you’ve ever had. King stayed there once, in room 217.
Unlike Stanley, the crisp mountain air did little to comfort King. Instead, he reported having a horrible nightmare which woke him up during the night. That nightmare, and the hotel where it occurred, would inspire The Shining. It might not actually be haunted, but if it’s frightening enough to scare the king of terror, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us.