Famous Buildings That Have Secret Rooms

Monica Gray - June 21, 2023

Everyone loves a good secret. For some reason, we feel powerful when we know something that no one else knows. The same goes for secret rooms. All around the world, famous buildings have hidden places that no one knows about… Until now. Did you know that The White House has a bomb shelter, there’s a secret room in Radio City Music Hall, and a ballroom in the Flinder’s Street Station in Melbourne? Many of these rooms operated as safe havens for the rich and famous. If there was a nuclear war, or someone was out to assassinate them, they had a place to run and hide. Next time you find yourself in one of these buildings, try and discover the secrets that lay hidden behind unassuming walls. We promise you’re in for a surprise that’ll make your jaw drop!


Harvington Hall Priest Holes

Harvington Hall dates back as early as the 14th century and was completed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1585, right when the hall was completed, priest hunters scoured the country of England for priests. At that time, it was illegal for a Catholic priest to set foot in England. If they were caught, they were executed. Many people fearing the lives of the priests built priest holes to keep them safe. Seven remain today in Harvington Hall. These holes are ingeniously hidden throughout the halls. If you end up on a tour at Harvington Hall, you can try one of the priest holes in Dr. Dodd’s library (Hisdoryan).

Daily Express

Buckingham And Windsor Palace Panic Rooms

Head to these palaces for some hidden panic rooms. The British Royal Family had to take precautions, which is how their palaces ended up with secret panic rooms. This began in 1982 when a man broke into the bedroom of Queen Elizabeth IIs and stayed for several minutes. And after 9/11, the royal family constructed panic rooms to keep them safe. They contain 18-inch thick steel walls and can protect them against assassinations, bullets, bombs, and poisonous gas. If there’s biological warfare, the panic rooms keep them safe. There’s even enough food and water to last a week. The Queen paid almost one million dollars for each panic room, equipped with air systems and battery-powered energy (Republic World).

Business Insider

The Statue of Liberty

Years ago, visitors climbed into the torch of the State of Liberty. Even though it’s closed off now, the room remains, empty and void of human occupation. In 1916 during WWI, German agents set off an explosion that damaged the room and hundreds of people, all the way to Times Square. This is a secret room we’d have to ask our great-grandparents about (Business Insider).

SciTech Daily

Pyramids Of Giza

It’s probably not surprising to learn the Pyramids of Giza contain hidden chambers and secret passages that have been the main area of interest for archaeologists for centuries. Recently, archaeologists discovered an empty chamber above the main entrance. In regards to discovering rooms, Professor Christian Grosse said, “The pyramids are a World Heritage Site. This means we have to be especially careful when conducting our investigations so that we don’t damage anything. We’re working on the Cheops pyramid with radar and ultrasound measuring devices that can be used on a non-destructive basis, and in part even contact-free.” Using this technology, they’ve discovered many secret rooms previously unknown (Scitech Daily).

Messy Nessy Chic

The Pixar Studio Speakeasy

In 1986, the founders of Pixar changed the future of the movie industry. Even though this date was years after Prohibition, it doesn’t mean they can’t have a hidden speakeasy. Andrew Gordon created the first speakeasy when he discovered a hidden door. This door led to the air conditioning controls. He decorated the space for comfort and coziness until it became an unofficial hangout. Tim Allen and Steve Jobs were two of many celebrities to hang out in the speakeasy. Steve Jobs even considered it as his meditation room. Eventually, Gordon made another speakeasy and dubbed it the Lucky 7 Lounge, accessible by a secret panel controlled by a secret button. Steve’s biography by Walter Isaacson said, “It opened to a low corridor that you could crawl through to a room clad in sheet metal that provided access to the air-conditioning valves…they commandeered the secret room, festooned it with Christmas lights and lava lamps, and furnished it with benches upholstered in animal prints, tasseled pillows, a fold-up cocktail table, liquor bottles, bar equipment, and napkins that read “The Love Lounge.” You probably didn’t expect a Love Lounge in the studio of an animation industry (Messy Nessy Chic).

House Beautiful

Winchester Mystery House

This mansion in San Jose, California, took 38 years to build. It’s earned the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous house construction. Sarah Winchester, the owner of the home, built this mansion to confuse and trap evil spirits haunting her. There are even accounts of ghosts wandering the halls. Visitors, who wish to remain anonymous, said, “I was standing in her bedroom once when suddenly I heard a noise coming from the cabinets in the dressing room nearby. The cabinets had been closed and they were very difficult to open, especially in a short amount of time. When I got into the room, all three cabinet doors were wide open! I checked every place a person could hide or slip out, but there was no one.” Winchester was also obsessed with the number 13, which is why she used that number to decorate a majority of her house (ABC7News).


Disneyland’s Club 33

To gain entrance to Club 33, you have to have a wallet full of money and a whole lot of patience. This is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. If you’re a huge Disneyland fan and don’t mind paying a hefty price, you can sign up for the waiting list to gain entry to Club 33. Oh, and spend $30,000 annually. Some people spend ten years on the waiting list before Disneyland grants them entry. But once you’re in, you’re in. You’ll get to hang out with stars like Tom Hanks and Rebel Wilson. In a blog post, Disneyland described the club and said it included “two dining rooms and several adjoining areas, all of which [held] a variety of antiques and original works of art. After ascending to the second floor in the unique Victorian-age, French-style lifts – a reproduction of one Walt had admired during a trip to Europe – you [would] enter The Gallery. Here [you would] find an oak telephone booth with beveled leaded glass panels adapted from the one used in the Disney motion picture “The Happiest Millionaire” and a rare console table which was found in the French Quarter of New Orleans.” Just reading about it is intriguing enough. Those who have a fat enough wallet can experience it themselves (Thrillist).


Vatican City

The Vatican is full of surprises. That’s part of the reason it’s so famous. There’s St. Peters Basilican and the Apostolic Palace. The Vatican Secret Archives is one of the world’s most extensive historical archives, which stores secret documents that probably give us some insights into the world’s best-kept secrets. Normally, these rooms aren’t open for visitors, and to see them you have to book a special tour. You’ll have the Room of the Masks, the Niccoline Chapel, and the Bramante Staircase, which was a way the pope went down inside the palace. Bramante came up with the idea of the double helix, and at the top, you’ll have gorgeous, sweeping views of Rome (Rome Wise).

Scottish Castle Associates

Drum Castle

There’s nothing better than having your secret bathroom in a big castle! Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for most of us, but it is for those who occupied Scotland’s Drum Castle. In 2013, archaeologists renovating the castle, which dates back to the 14th century, discovered an underground chamber. No one knew about this chamber until then. This medieval bathroom had a 14th-century toilet, which they called a “garderobe.” Not only that, but they also found a second chamber which they believed was a hiding place for the Irvine family during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. Dr. Jonathan Clark participated in the excavations that eventually led to the discovery of the bathroom. He said. “We knew that there were hidden passages because there were window openings at the first-floor level, but we couldn’t see from the inside of the tower where the windows were because they are hidden by the bookshelves of the 19th-century library. We were surprised that when we carefully unblocked the windows and peered in, and through the dim light of a torch and the mists of dust trapped for centuries, to find a perfectly preserved medieval chamber, complete with the remains of the garderobe (toilet) including the remains of the original toilet seat and the original entrance doorway for the medieval hall.” This contributed to their knowledge of how 14th-century towers were used (Scottish Castles Association).


Mount Rushmore

This one is more of a rumor. But many people believe that Abraham Lincoln’s head has a secret room. It’s called the Hall of Records and is right where the frontal lobe of Abraham Lincoln is. It contains some of America’s most important documents as if it’s straight out of the movie National Treasure. In the 1930s, designer Gutzon Borglum envisioned an 800-foot stairway leading to a grand hallway, with a large bronze eagle. And even though he died before that vision became a reality, there’s a record of America’s history inside the Hall of Records. No one is getting inside, as it’s sealed by a 1,200 pound of granite (Business Insider).

Tour Eiffel

The Apartment Inside The Eiffel Tower

There’s nothing more romantic than the Eiffel Tower. But what about the secret apartment that lies hidden within the Eiffel Tower? Gustave Eiffel, the mastermind behind the tower, built himself his very own apartment at the top. He rarely had visitors, though when he did, they included people like Thomas Edison. At the time of completion in the 1880s, it was the highest apartment in the world. The apartment itself has a homely and cozy feeling, a stark contrast to the rustic, industrial tower it sits inside. There’s a grand piano, oil paintings, and a gramophone (Headout).


The Hotel Room In Disney World’s Cinderella Castle

Step inside Disney World, and you enter a completely different world, full of colors, sights, and sounds that’ll make your jaw drop. And even though this secret hotel room isn’t necessarily a huge secret, it’s still the most exclusive hotel room in all of Disney World. Since the castle’s completion in 1971, they used the interior for storage, and at one time, housed the telephone operators for the parks. But in 2007, the builders of the castle announced the Cinderella Castle Suite. It’s almost impossible to spend the night in the Cinderella Suite, and the park has declined bribes of up to $40,000. There’s a salon, a bed chamber, a foyer, and a bathroom. You’ll see Cindarella’s glass slipper and pumpkin coach and a Victorian-style rotary phone (Travel And Leisure).

Simply France

Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles)

In the Palace of Versailles, you’ll find hidden rooms and secret passageways where the Royal family moved around discreetly. There’s also the Queen’s secret cabinet, where Marie Antoinette would reportedly go for moments of solitude. The Palace has 12 secret rooms, and around the estate, are secret tea rooms, forgotten churches, and deserted groves that offer spectacular insight into the life of Marie Antoinette and other occupants of the estate. There are even private libraries, and if you’re clever enough, you can peek through keyholes to get a glimpse into the Versaille life (Simply France).


The Waldorf Astoria

You’ve probably heard of The Waldorf, but you likely haven’t heard of Track 61, the secret train platform that lies just beneath it. It comes as no surprise that Manhattan has some of the most exclusive apartments and buildings in the world. In 1913, the creation of Grand Central Station occupied space above and below ground, and opened a world of connection to other parts of America. The Waldorf and Astoria hotels merged, as they’re located directly above these train platforms. But the public never used the platform. Only elite customers used it. FDR used this platform at one point, and Andy Warhol hosted a party on the platform in 1965. The NY Times reported on this station, and said, “Guests with private rail cars may have them routed directly to the hotel instead of to the Pennsylvania Station or the Grand Central Terminal, and may leave their cars at a special elevator which will take them directly to their suites or the lobby.” Imagine you’re so important, you have a secret room just for yourself in one of the busiest stations in the world (Gothamist).

China Highlights

The Forbidden City In China

For over 500 years, The Forbidden City in China contains secret rooms where the emperors would sneak to and hide. During renovations, people are constantly discovering new rooms that were previously unknown. There are 9,999 rooms, one less than the 10,000 rooms in the palace in heaven. In 2025, 85 percent of the total Forbidden City will be open to the public. But that means there’s still another 15 percent that we don’t know about. What’s going on behind those shut doors? (China Highlights).

Conde Nast Traveler

The Tower Of London

It’s rumored that the secret rooms and hidden spaces in the Tower of London operated as places of imprisonment. Inside the tower, you’ll also find a lookout concealed by a barrel. Supposedly, the owners kept 23,500 jewels in a safe inside the Martin Tower. As history says, only 10 people lost their heads at the Tower, contrary to popular belief. To seal his name on the throne, Richard III disposed of his nephew’s bodies on the Two Princes Staircase (Standard).

Museum of Lost

The Ballroom In The Flinders Street Station In Melbourne

As the busiest railway station in Australia, it might not be surprising to learn there’s a secret ballroom. Almost 100,000 passengers per day flood the halls and wander through the station. No one thinks about the top-floor ballroom. In 1910, when the station opened, the spacious third floor was home to many different rooms serving the Victoria Railways staff. Eventually, the owners converted it into a dance hall in the 1950s. It’s been off-limits, but if you manage to get your hands on a “Golden Ticket,” you might be one of the lucky ones that get to view this ballroom. The Table Talk magazine of 1910 said, “There is a billiard room with three of the best tables, a games room, a reference and lending library, reading and smoking rooms, and classrooms.” Best of all, the owners furnished the rooms ornately and substantially, and decorated the walls with framed and artistic pictures. Because the 30s and 40s were the height of dancing in Melbourne it was only suitable if there was a ballroom in the busiest station in the city, and country (Museum Of Lost).

Business Insider

The White House Bomb Shelter

High-ranking officials need a place to hide, which is why there are secret rooms at The White House. One, in particular, is the bomb shelter. To protect President Roosevelt from assassination, construction workers built this room. There was an assassination attempt on Roosevelt regardless. But after the war ended, President Truman expanded this bomb shelter into a Cold War-era bomb shelter, where it was a temporary command center. Now, it might not be much of a secret, as President Trump spent time in the safety bunker during the Black Lives Matter protests. In her 2010 memoir, First Lady Laura Bush said, “The PEOC is designed to be a command center during emergencies, with televisions, phones, and communications facilities.” There are also underground tunnels for extra safety measures (Business Insider).

Prague City Line

Prague Castle

Head to Prague Castle for secret rooms, hidden passageways, and underground tunnels. This is where famous Czech Kings, Roman emperors, and famous presidents roamed the halls and even snuck away using the secret passageways. The Old Royal Palace to St. Vitus Cathedral has some of these secret hidden steps. The Golden Saloon is another secret room that only the most elite people have access to. A secret tunnel between the second and third courtyards is intended to protect the President from the general public as he moved about the Castle (Prague City Line).


Medici Chapel

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the director of the Medici Chapel discovered a secret drawing room underneath the chapel. They found a trapdoor in a wardrobe, and of course, they followed it. Construction workers completed the Chapel in the 16th century as the burying place of the Medici family, but it dates back even further. And until the70ss, the director assumed they’d looked at every nook and cranny possible. The illustrations of Michelangelo cover the walls of this secret room. The room is 23 feet by 6.5 feet. After discovering the room, they believed Michelangelo hid inside his secret room for months, where you’ll find decorations with sketches and designs for sculptures. The director, Paola d’Agostino, said, “You have to go down a series of very steep steps, and you start seeing all these breathtaking drawings.” At least six of them are Michaelangelos (NPR).

Live in Italy Mag

Labirinto della Masone

Welcome to the largest bamboo maze in the world. It has 17 acres and hidden rooms, you can discover just by doing the maze. Head to the bamboo labyrinth and explore the brainchild creation of Franco Maria Ricci. In the 1980s, he invited his favorite writer Jorge Luis Borges over. He said, “It is a well-known fact that the Labyrinth was one of his favorite themes. And the paths traced by the hesitant footfalls of the blind writer as he walked around me, made me think of the uncertainty of those who move amid forks in the path and enigmas. I think that it was watching him, and talking to him of the strange journeys made by men, that the very first embryo of the project […] first took form.” He sourced the bamboo from Southeast Asia, and it now sits in his home in Italy. This is more than just a maze, it’s a journey (Live in Italy Mag).

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

If you’ve ever visited New York for Christmas, then you probably went to Radio City Music Hall for some Christmas spectacle. Even though there are multiple secret rooms in this venue, the most lavish one has to be Roxy’s home. And we’re talking about Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, an early pioneer of the movie theater industry. He helped design many of New York City’s venues like Roxy Theater, which is another spot you’ll probably recognize. He lived in Radio City Music Hall in a private apartment on the fifth floor. This is where he had 20-foot-high gold leaf ceilings, marble fixtures around the room, and custom-made wooden furniture. It’s not open to the public, but it is open to exclusive events saved for essential people. If you’re invited, you’ll roam the halls that Judy Garland, Alfred Hitchcock, and Walt Disney roamed (Rockefeller Center).

Cicerone Granada

The Alhambra

This palace, located in Granada, Spain, contains hidden chambers and a secret tunnel that connects the palace with the city. Once a month, the owners open the private parts of the Alhambra to the public. This 700-year-old citadel sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. There’s a cave that’s partially, covered by ivy, which opens up to an underground gallery (English).

Atlas Obscura

The Bowling Alley In The Frick House

The Henry C. Frick House, located on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, is home to the Frick Collection. These priceless paintings include famed works like Titan and Hans Holbein the Younger. Since bowling was a new and exciting game that had just come out at that time, Frick had a two-lane bowling alley installed in his home, in addition to a billiards room. Unfortunately, he died three years after its construction, and after his passing, his wife Helen used the space to store books. This secret room is off-limits to most visitors. The lanes are maple and pine, with red-tiled floors, and mahogany-painted walls. Because this nearly untouched bowling alley does not live up to fire standards, it is off-limits to the public (Atlas Obscura).


Russia’s Amber Room

The Amber room disappeared during WWII. In 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, the Amber Room was moved to Königsberg Castle. And that’s when the search for the fated Amber Room began, and when the Red Army seized the city in 1941, no traces were found. This room became the eighth wonder of the world. Anatoly Valuev, of the Kaliningrad History and Arts Museum, said, “But no traces of burning amber were found. And it was assumed that the room survived after all. It was hidden in the castle’s basement or it was taken somewhere else.” The former USSR reconstructed the Amber Room, which you can see on display today, though no one truly ever found out where the real Amber Room was (BBC).