Hotel of Horror - 2020 Review
Haunted Attraction Reviewed: Hotel of Horror
Location of Attraction: Saylorsburg PA
Date of Review: 10/9/2020
Total Number of Attractions Available: 2
Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 9/10
Entertainment & Food Rating: 5/10
Atmosphere Rating: 9/10
Overall Costume & Makeup Rating: 9/10
Overall Cast & Crew Rating: 9/10
Overall Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 9/10
Overall Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 9/10
Overall Feedback: On Friday, October 9th, our squad ventured into the mountains of the Poconos to visit the Hotel of Horror. This haunt has the unique privilege of being hosted in a 200-year-old hotel which sets the perfect stage for a haunted attraction and lends an authenticity and atmosphere that few other haunts can deliver.
All tickets are timed for this attraction and available to purchase in 30 minute increments from 7PM until 10:30PM. Tickets are available online and we strongly suggest purchasing tickets in advance due to crowds and risk of sell-out. Entrance to Hotel of Horror is a reasonable $20, and the add on combo to experience both attractions is $30. These two attractions flow one into the other, and they are of equal quality, so we feel that the combo ticket is the only way to truly experience this haunt.
Hotel of Horror is an entirely indoor haunt. They have a large outdoor canopy over their outdoor overflow line and a generously sized indoor staging space for waiting crowds. This haunt would be a great option for a cold or rainy day because it is entirely indoors and shelters waiting guests from the elements. For those with mobility issues or injuries, the haunt does rely on working your way through almost all floors of the hotel (multiple times), which contain many staircases.
In 2020, under COVID guidelines, the haunt provides hand sanitizing locations at the entrance of each haunt and gives guests instructions that masks must be worn at all times. For the safety of actors and guests, several areas within the walkthrough areas were strategically draped with clear, protective curtains or roped off. This protects both the actors and the beautiful accumulation of antiques and hand-created props. But, don’t let that fool you into making you feel safe from scares, because the actors can and do use these areas of distraction as a way to startle you while you are off guard.
Now, onto the review.
Hotel of Horror is an imposing five-story building, positioned at the corner of two intersecting roads. From outside, driving into the haunt, you get a glimpse of what was once surely a spectacular luxury hotel. A wrap-around porch with covered awnings hint at the presence the hotel once was. The remains, announcing the former property’s title “The Lake Hotel,” once served as the temporary housing for visitors to nearby lake communities and housing for railway workers. In 2008, a paranormal activity group investigated the several-centuries-old property and its long, spooky halls for signs of otherworldly activity. Now the hotel greets you with broken windows — many of which are boarded and covered — with curtains visible and the towering faded white walls of the building.
As you step out of your car and walk toward the huge façade of the building, the sound of a bell tower chimes eerily through the air. Moving closer to the haunt, the sound of crows cawing reverberates over the bricks, echoing deep into the parking lot and making you suddenly aware of the open spaces around you.
Our group took our tickets to the ticketing window where they were converted from a digital QR code to a hard style ticket, and then moved through the lines of covered awnings, bypassing the general admission line and entering through the VIP admission ticket line, which brought us immediately into the building. The waiting area to enter the first haunt is indoors on the ground level of the hotel, with cement walls and spooky decorations. A haunt actor worked the lines, while another attendant guided groups into the haunt.
Hotel of Horror really relies heavily on atmosphere and isolation, so they stagger groups apart using a timed system. Small groups enter through a doorway and the door closes behind them. Minutes later, an overhead light turns red, signaling the timing for another small group to enter. As long as groups don’t hurry forward, or lag behind, spacing here should be intimate to your group only. Staying with your group and keeping space between you and other parties will give you the best experience here.
Immediately when the door opens for you, you begin to sense the eerie, heavy presence of the building itself. You wander through a dimly lit dark “tunnel” with walls carved into mud and dirt, riddled with human skeletons. You have found yourself underground, inside a tomb, and emerge on the other side to be greeted with a glass coffin, huge ancient tomb, skeletons and a haunt actor who drives you forward through the fog and up a staircase. In that one split second of haunt experience, the stage is set for what are clearly intricately designed hand-made props and sets that seem more like period-accurate antique shops than animatronic prop-shops.
The haunt winds you down halls and up and down staircases, with new scenes on each floor. We don’t want to give away the entire experience by walking you floor by floor, because the visuals here in some of the rooms are quite stunning and deserve to be seen and experienced first-hand. But to give you an idea, there is a full sized taxidermized black bear in one room, an old piano, collections of stuffed animals that fully line entire walls of a room, a glimpse of a long, fully stocked bar and a massive church that could easily fit a medium sized congregation. There are so many small, significant details in Hotel of Horror as a haunt that at times it feels like you are taken back in time walking the halls of a hotel trapped in time, or stepping into an antique shop where something has gone darkly, horribly awry.
Acting here has always been top notch. There are very few “boo” scares from actors, instead they seem fully committed to their parts and work spooky one-liners into their brief interactions with us. If you are brave enough to linger for a few moments, they continue on in character, never missing a beat while inventing hilarious or chilling commentary — and sometimes a combination of both. With the combination of atmosphere that truly draws you in, paired with committed acting skill, we needed a bit of humor — we’re looking at you, sassy tailor in the dress shop. You really rocked our worlds.
Although the haunt did feel a little short on actors on the particular night we visited, those actors we did encounter were predominantly truly memorable and top-notch performers. Whether they utilized body movements, posture and their chilling presence, or delivered clever lines to make our skin crawl, we can tell that this is a committed group of haunters.
Memorably, we entered a room with ruins written all over the walls, a woman with a doll-like, distorted face in a padded room screaming with crazed intensity, a humorous tailor who terrorized us with a combination of threats and one-liners without pause who somehow gave each small group of ours a different but memorable experience, a woman in a hallway calling for our organs as she stood in front of a wall of shelved ingredients, a voodoo priestess amid her collection of ingredients, and a nurse perched atop an examining room table who informed us that she far preferred performing autopsies in the morgue to saving our terrified lives.
There are also some truly spooky scenes created in this haunt that linger in our memories because of the details of the rooms combined with the performances, including a beautiful Victorian nursery with a curtained crib in the center of the room, while a “mother” rocked a dual-headed baby. Oil lamps, candelabras and a skeleton rocking horse decorated the room.
Most striking of all has to be the church scene, that has some of the most visually impressive sets in the building, with full rows of pews and haunting chants while actors interact with groups desperately trying to weave their way out of the room.
The two haunted attractions have a very small break between them that is almost unnoticeable. You reach the base of a staircase where a worker instructs you to pause, checks your tickets, guides you to the hand sanitizing station and then checks the timing of your crowd spacing before letting you move through the second attraction. It could almost be combined into one full length attraction, with the overall experience lasting approximately 20-25 minutes. You certainly get what you pay for at this haunt.
There is very little to complain about with this always well-performing haunt. This year’s COVID guidelines to protect actors had several areas with clear curtains that took away from the experience for some of our group, but the acting staff utilized these spaces well. Other areas protected book shelves full of old books, or other antiques that would be impossible to clean.
Overall, Hotel of Horror makes for solid haunt experience that has adapted well to the difficult challenges of 2020. When pairing the unique, spooky experience of walking through a centuries-old hotel mixed with detailed sets and strong actors, we easily recommend checking out this haunt.
Individual Attraction Ratings:
Attraction Name: Hotel of Horror
Overall Attraction Rating: 9/10
Cast & Crew Rating: 9/10
Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 9/10
Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 9/10
Attraction Name: Altered Nightmares
Overall Attraction Rating: 9/10
Cast & Crew Rating: 9/10
Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 9.5/10
Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 9/10