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 13 of the world's creepiest bars to visit this Halloween.
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
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
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
The Winchester of Shaun of the Dead fame has met the natural end of most classic London pubs - luxury flats - but Donny Dirk's, Minneapolis, steps boldly into the fray as the ultimate hideout for the zombie apocalypse. Bartenders sport red ties and blood-stained shirts, just like Shaun of the Dead, and, apart from the odd "in case of zombie attack, break glass" sign, it's even rather classy.
2027 N. 2nd St., Minneapolis, MN 55411, USA
+1 (612) 588 9700
Rammstein and Slipknot soundtrack this "horror rock bar", complete with braziers, skulls, coffins, mouldering corpses, sinister portraits, vampire tombstones, raw metal and black lace. On special occasions, goth strippers shake their purple tassels on the bartop. Be warned: Halloween proper will have every American backpacker in Berlin downing shots in a witches hat.
5 Schönhauser Allee, Prenzlauer Berg, 10119 Berlin, Germany
+49 (0)1515 6633545
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
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
This arty, gothic venue features dark art, black sofas, doomy drinks and an Edgar Allan Poe theme. Once a month it hands over to Tokyo zombie crew, Zombiena, for a Zombie Bar - feed yourself to a hungry zombie, dine on rotting "zombie flesh" or brave a welter of zombie-themed cocktails, not including the original. Not enough? Head for dinner at Vampire Cafe, or dine on fake intestines in a prison cell at Alcatraz ER.
2F Rock and Rock Bldg., 7-8-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
+81 (0)3 3497 9119
We're not sure what it about Sweden and Goths - although some historians suggest the real, historic Goths originated in those parts - but Stockholm has more than its fair share of goth bars. Like Vampire Lounge, a dark basement featuring décor from vampire bats to metal skeletons, crucifixes and candelabras, some scary sound and light effects in the loos, and, of course, Blood energy drink, served from IV bags.
Östgötagatan 41, Södermalm, SE-116 25 Stockholm, Sweden
+46 (0)8 643 2240
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
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
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
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