Words by Theodora Sutcliffe
Sadly, none of us will ever sit at The Shining's Gold Room bar and chat with the world's most sinister bartender, Lloyd. Yet from vampire strippers to HR Giger, from steampunk to feasting zombies, plenty of spots around the world deliver thrills, chills and – often – plenty of cheese, too. Here's 9 of the world's creepiest bars to visit this Halloween.
Giger Bar, Gruyères
The walled town of Gruyères, Switzerland, makes an unlikely setting for a bar that's half alien cathedral, half medieval bone chapel, and absolutely the belly of the beast. Yet H.R. Giger, the surrealist who designed Alien, was Swiss, and Gruyères is home not only to a museum of his work but to this stunningly creepy bar. Sadly, doors close at a not terribly sinister 8.30pm.
Musée H.R. Giger, 1663 Gruyères, Switzerland
+41 (0)26 921 22 00
Jekyll & Hyde, New York
Times Square sibling to the werewolf theme pub, The Slaughtered Lamb, Jekyll & Hyde is a kitsch classic, a theme bar and restaurant designed like a marginally upscale haunted house. Expect live action horror, bizarre animatronics, skeletons, talking monsters, and seriously weird stuff behind the mirrors of the ladies' loos. Need more? There's a full haunted house downstairs.
216 West 44th Street, New York, NY, USA
+1 (212) 869 4933
Le Cercueil, Brussels
The name of this Exorcist-inspired bar means 'The Coffin', and The Coffin has been letting the metal rock and the good times roll since 1974. Coffins star as tables and back bar decoration, drinks come in skull mugs, skeletons decorate the window and the paintings on the walls are as disturbing as the worst outsider art. Oh yes, and bar staff dress as undertakers. Charming.
10-12 Rue des Harengs, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
+32 (0)2 512 3077
Casa Diablo, Portland
Portland claims to have more strip joints per, err, head than any city in America, among them Casa Diablo, which majors on the unlikely pairing of veganism and vampirism. Inspired by the Titty Twister, the dive bar in From Dusk Till Dawn, and its vampire strippers, tattooed gals and topless bartenders take tips in blood-stained two-dollar bills. The gals do many, many things, but biting is not among them.
2839 NW St Helens Rd, Portland, OR 97210, USA
+1 (503) 222 6600
The Spaniards Inn, London
One of London's most historic pubs, this timber-beamed affair is truly scare-spirational on a dark and stormy night, when the winds howl across Hampstead Heath. Look out for highwayman Dick Turpin galloping across the heath, a woman in white in the garden, the ghost of a murdered former landlord, Juan, and a sleeve-plucking spirit around the bar area.
Spaniards Road, Hampstead, London NW3 7JJ, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 8731 8406
Lafitte's Blackmith Shop, New Orleans
The pirate and New Orleans icon Jean Lafitte supposedly used this raw brick building as a base for smuggling negotiations. Today it's one of the world's most haunted bars. Jean Lafitte swings by from time to time, a beautiful woman appears in an upstairs mirror, a dead chap waits at the bar for his wife, as he promised, an invisible hand taps customers on the shoulder, and the lights can't be relied on. Spooky!
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, 941 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
+1 (504) 593 9761
Garlic & Shots, London
A Soho staple, with branches in Stockholm and Palma, Garlic & Shots does what it says on the tin. That's garlic - including garlic beer, garlic vodka and garlic brandy - and, err, shots (101, to be precise). The theme is rowdy goth-metal, and the cavernous cellar features Satanist graffiti, a coffin and a weird zombie mannequin. Vampire hell, but werewolf heaven. What would Bella Swan say?
14 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RD, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7734 9505
The Edison, Los Angeles
Love steampunk? The dark, nightmarish Victoriana-sci-fi fusion pioneered by William Gibson? Then don your finest dress shirt and closed-toe shoes and head to The Edison, Los Angeles, where a glowing absinthe fairy wanders through revellers, dancers and aerialists, and grungy fittings from the former power plant contrast with Gatsby-esque bling.
108 W 2nd St #101, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
+1 (213) 613 0000
Frankenstein's Laboratory, Bali
Downtown Seminyak is home to Frankenstein's Laboratory, where the mad doctor mixes up creepy concoctions in test-tubes, vials and flasks, and the back bar is lined with bottles labelled Witches' Warts and similar. Nightly cabarets feature the Dancing Dead, including some surprisingly foxy zombies, while their zombie face-painting service makes Frankenstein's the perfect choice for date night. Raaaar!
6 Jalan Dhyana Pura, Seminyak, 80361, Bali, Indonesia
+62 (0)361 731 622