5 Delightfully Haunted Hotels
Today on The Daily Meal
No matter how creepy you make your Halloween costume, it doesn’t really frighten anyone over the age of five. For the real ghoulish deal, pack your bags for one of these bewitching breaks. But be prepared to be scared. The ghosts in these hotels apparate at the most unexpected times — and places. Luckily, meals are mostly spook-free, so you can dine in style, then settle down for a phantasmic night.
Rest in peace!
La Posada de Santa Fe: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Built in 1882 as a family home, La Posada was struck by tragedy when the seventh child, a son, died at a young age. His mother, Mrs. Julia Staab, was devastated and passed away by unknown causes a few years later at the age of 52. (Rumor had it she’d lost her mind.) The spirit of the grieving Julia is said to linger in La Posada de Santa Fe to this day.
To investigate the ghoulish goings-on, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries was filmed here, focusing on Julia’s former bedroom (now Room 100), where the most sightings of her have been reported. She’s also occasionally seen on the stairwell and once, frighteningly, staring back at a guest from his bathroom mirror! It’s said that she wears a long flowing dark gown with a hood, and has been known to move objects, such as candlesticks, around the room while guests are asleep.
Guests stay in the family’s former home, a beautiful pueblo-revival building, or its annexes, and can hit the nearby slopes for good skiing. Refuel with a meal at the hotel’s award-winning Fuego restaurant, although you might struggle to make a selection from the vast cheese cart, one of the region’s largest. But in a haunted hotel, there’s one cheese you must sample — the Muenster.
Hotel El Convento: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
When Doña Ana’s husband died in battle in the 17th century, she was so distraught, she decided to devote her life — and her home — to god, turning the house into a convent. She petitioned the king to build a new, larger convent, and it was opened in 1651 with Doña Ana as the Mother Superior. Hundreds of nuns lived — and died (of natural causes) — in the convent over the centuries, and it finally closed down in 1903.
Now one of the city’s finest historic hotels, guests frequently report hearing the swishing of the ghostly nuns’ robes as they walk the corridors. Peeking out of their rooms, the noise stops and nobody is there. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/cogito ergo imago)
Even if there are no nuns on your visit, you’ll still love Hotel El Convento’s historic architecture and laid-back ambience. Pop on a sundress and sandals, and grab a table at the hotel’s El Picoteo restaurant, which overlooks the sunny specter-free patio, to share tapas, empanadas, and the island’s best paella.
Lady of the Manor
Manor House Hotel & Golf Club: Castle Combe, England
With a building older than America, it’s no surprise it has a resident ghoul. Dating to the 14th century, Manor House Hotel survived for several centuries phantom-free. Then, in the 19th century, residents and guests of this home in the Cotswolds started catching glimpses of a Gray Lady.
She’s been seen moving through rooms, halls, and walls, and even floating through the grounds with an air of serenity and a regal bearing about her. Nobody knows who the Gray Lady is, and while catching sight of her can be alarming, she does seem harmless enough.
Fright-loving gastronomes book into this historic country-house hotel, three hours from London in a medieval village near Bath, as much for its Michelin-starred Bybrook Restaurant as for its haunting atmosphere. The Bybrook dishes up elegant British classics — much like the Gray Lady herself.
Shining Happy People
The Stanley Hotel: Estes Park, Colorado
“Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” Nightmare-maker Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining after a visit to this spooky hotel in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. And while Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation was filmed elsewhere, you can’t help but imagine Jack Nicholson stalking the corridors.
King’s never confirmed it, but it’s possible he was motivated by a paranormal experience during his visit, as there have long been reports of phantom parties in the ballroom. Over the decades, both staff and guests claim to have heard the clinking of glasses, the chattering masses, and the faint sound of music, but on inspection find nothing more than cold air and creepy quiet. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/paurian)
Two TV shows, Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, have filmed episodes here to investigate the haunting, but they never managed to capture footage of the revelers. Nobody seems to know who they are, but one thing’s for sure… happening upon these good-time ghouls would be far less frightening than encountering a psychic kid cycling down the hall on his tricycle repeating “redrum” over and over.
While you should get your dose of spooky by braving a night at The Stanley, you’ll want to fortify your soul an hour away in Boulder. Book a table at Frasca, owned by award-winning chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, who worked at The French Laundry. The menu is experimental Italian, with dishes like ravioli with eggplant, heirloom tomato, and opal basil, or cannelloni with braised short rib, parsnip, and anchovy. After dessert, head back to The Stanley to crash the party.
Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa: Asheville, North Carolina
At one of North Carolina’s most glamorous hotels, there’s an air of mystery around a longtime guest, the Pink Lady. Wearing a pink evening gown, this ethereal woman has often been glimpsed in the atrium, on the stairs, or in room 545, where she’s been known to tickle guest’s toes and to ring repeatedly for the bellhop. One theory is that, in the 1920s, a young socialite fell (or was pushed) to her death over the stairs near room 545, landing in the atrium, and bringing her own roaring ‘20s to an abrupt end.
Thankfully, the Pink Lady seems to have been on best behavior during President Obama and Michelle’s getaway here last year. Apart from the occasional apparition, the hotel is a good choice for romance, with its Smoky Mountain setting and sensational spa.
Dinner is always dramatic here, in the Blue Ridge Dining Room, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains and the starry, starry sky. The chef serves Southern food with savoir faire and was awarded the American Culinary Federation Achievement of Excellence in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa)
Stay here in the run-up to Halloween, and even if you miss the Pink Lady, you’ll be greeted by a frightening sight — dozens of creepily carved jack-o'-lanterns. Trick or treat!
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