Eat & Drink

We Ranked Sydney’s Most Haunted Bars By Spookiness (And Drink Quality)

I don’t believe in ghosts. But I do love The X-Files, so I pretend to be into ghosts so I can feel like Mulder and Scully. So you bet your ass I dragged my friends on a haunted bar crawl through Sydney. You. Bet. Your. Spooky. Butt.

Grizzly murders, sinister kidnappings and accidental deaths have all gone down in various Sydney bars, leading to reports of all kind of ghost and paranormal sightings. So one night I took three of my best (and most patient) friends through the places that are supposed to be the most haunted bars in Sydney.

Some of these bars shy away from their spooky reputation, but others lean into the haunted aesthetic. A few bartenders even shared ghost stories with us. But which stories are real, and which bars are really haunted? And which are worth a night out to?

I’m glad we’re on the same page.

These are the most haunted bars in Sydney, ranked by how spooky they are, and how good the drinks are:

#5 The Russell Boutique Hotel

Where: 143A George St, The Rocks

 

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This is definitely the nicest bar on the list but, unfortunately, that’s not what we’re ranking. We’re ranking how spooky a place is, and the bar at The Russell Boutique Hotel is less spooky than a middle-aged aunt on a cruise, despite the fact that it’s built on top of an old hospital site and it’s supposed to be the most haunted hotel in Australia.

Stories say that this place is haunted by a ghost who only appears to single women, so I dressed extra nice.

But the stupid sexy ghost didn’t even appear, let alone buy me a drink.

The drinks range here is amazing, I guess, but I’m still mad about being literally ghosted.


#4 The Observer Hotel

Where: 69 George St, The Rocks

 

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The Observer Hotel is another very nice bar that’s tried a bit too hard to glam up its haunted history, which mostly revolves around the ghost of a woman who was said to have been murdered here by a politician.

Cheap pints, lots of spirits, friendly bar staff and live music is great – but the Maroon 5 covers must have scared off any ghosts that were in the area because I didn’t see anything spooky.


#3 Australian Heritage Hotel

Where: 100 Cumberland St, The Rocks

 

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The Australian Heritage Hotel is the kind of bar you’d find the Midsomer Murders detectives drinking in at the end of an episode after they’ve cracked the case. It had the best drinks range of any of the five bars, with lots of weird craft beer and a few boozy pink lemonades.

The bar is said to be frequented by Maddox, the friendly ghost who was murdered in the hotel but apparently got over it.

I didn’t meet Maddox, but I did fight my way through a crowd of business men, and capitalism is pretty spooky.


#2 The Hero of Waterloo

Where: 81 Lower Fort St., Millers Point

 

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The Hero of Waterloo takes great pride in being the most haunted bar in Australia. When the pub was built in 1843, the cellar connected to a secret tunnel that was used to smuggle workers and stolen goods in and out of the city. Patrons have reported seeing the ghosts of people who died in the tunnels, as well as the ghost of the former landlady.

Today, the cellar is still haunted, according to the bartender, and none of us got any reception while we were inside the bar – probably because of the ghosts.

The drinks range was decent, but if you’re coming to the Hero of Waterloo you’re probably more interested in the charming old-school aesthetic than in trying a fancy new drink. The bar feels welcoming and, ghosts or no ghosts, you could easily lose track of time and spend an entire night here.


#1 Carlisle Castle Hotel

 

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The resident ghost at the Carlisle Castle Hotel has expensive taste and a penchant for red wine. Sydney – the only city where even the ghosts have more money to spend on a night out than the young working professionals.

The ghost has been caught on camera taking bottles of wine off the shelves, throwing glasses to the floor and leaving the beer taps running. Wow, rude.

The drinks range here is pretty standard, but there is a giant Jenga tower to play after a drink or two. Our tower fell over on its own, so I’m pretty sure the ghost knocked it over and the stories are 100 percent confirmed.


Final verdict?

I didn’t see any ghosts, and my friends may never go out with me again, but there are some v cute old pubs in Sydney that are worth a night out anyway.

The Carlisle Castle Hotel is definitely the spookiest bar we visited and the most fun, but the Australian Heritage Hotel had the best drinks range, so make of that what you will.

(Lead image: Elevate / Unsplash)