Halloween comes and goes, but in some places — the haunting never ends. When plastic skeletons and animatronic ghouls are packed away for the year, thrill-seekers looking for a spook can spend the night with a reported real-life ghost in a haunted hotel.
People who check in may experience some unexplained occurrences, whether that’s just a moderate flickering of lights or a faceless torso at the foot of your bed watching over you while you sleep.
You may even see the spirit of a celebrity, but we don’t suggest asking for an autograph. Marilyn Monroe is known to stand behind guests in the mirror of her old suite at a hotel in Hollywood. Likewise, Sex Pistols bass guitarist Sid Vicious and his slaughtered girlfriend Nancy haunt the halls of one New York City spot.
Much as we’d like to be, we aren’t formally trained ghost-busters. So, to figure out which places are most haunted, we compiled a list of locations where sightings are most often reported by hotel staff, visitors, and paranormal investigators.
If you’re into things that go bump in the night — or are simply entertained by terrifying tales — read on. For those who would rather not hang out with dead people: This list could likely benefit you too, considering a handful of travelers aren’t aware that these properties are occupied by the undead until after they check in to one of the most haunted hotels in America.
The first documented casualty at “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” was an Irish stonemason named Michael, who fell to his death during the initial construction in 1885. The finished product was marketed as a resort for the rich and famous, but it failed miserably because of an economic depression. Millionaire radio personality Norman G. Baker bought the place in 1937 and flipped it into a hospital, where he treated hundreds of people with cancer despite having no medical training. It’s estimated that 200 patients died here, and they all haunt the grounds to this day. So does a cat named Morris. Meow.
Admiral Fell Inn, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member/Yelp
In the early 1900s, the Admiral Fell Inn was a boarding house and recreational center for sailors called “The Anchorage.” These seamen were particularly rowdy and often enjoyed alcohol-fueled parties with prostitutes and gambling. When tropical storm Isabel struck in 2003, the hotel was evacuated. A former general manager stayed back to board the windows, and claimed to have heard a party going on upstairs — but the building was empty. Room 413 is reportedly the most haunted room on the premises. Ever since a guest mysteriously died there, housekeepers have felt a chilling paranormal presence in the room. Some even refuse to go in.
Owner Drayton Hastie has never seen a ghost at the inn, but guests certainly have. The most popular sighting is of the “Gentleman Ghost.” A frightened former guest alleged that he’d awoken to the limbless torso of a man with no face watching over him. Others have seen him in doorways, passing by windows, and even snuggled up next to them in bed. Some say he’s threatening — and is possibly a pirate who’d been hanged nearby — but he’s also been described as caring. For your best chance at experiencing this yourself, book a stay in room 8 or 10.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel/Yelp
People have reported several different odd encounters at this historic hotel. New Orleans was hit with yellow fever in the early 1800s when the hotel was a convent and orphanage. The nuns and children who died from the sickness are often seen roaming the halls. Many claim to have seen a little girl rolling a ball and chasing it down the sixth-floor corridors. Others have witnessed a Confederate soldier on the third and sixth floors, and a lonely ghost dancer under the chandelier of the Orleans Ballroom.
Concord’s Colonial Inn is one of the oldest hotels in the nation. A few years after it was built, the Revolutionary War began and the inn was turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers. The most famous guestroom is No. 24, which was once an operating room where several patients died on the table. In 1966, a woman named Judith Fellenz wrote the innkeeper a curious letter regarding her stay. In it, she claimed to have seen a terrifying shadowy mass floating at the foot of her bed and in front of the fireplace before melting away. A middle-aged nurse named Rosemary, injured soldiers, and other entities wearing colonial attire have also been spotted here.
The Congress Plaza Hotel & Convention Center/Yelp
This hotel is the old stomping grounds of infamous serial killer H.H. Holmes, who’d meet young girls in the lobby, take them back to his “murder castle,” and kill them. The Congress was also allegedly home to gangster Al Capone, whose spirit haunts the property today. Other entities include that of a little boy thrown to his death from a sixth-floor window, a worker trapped behind a wall when it was plastered shut, and a hobo named Peg Leg Johnny. Most of the action happens in room 441, where a female ghost stands at the edge of the bed and kicks to wake you.
Long before it became a hotel, this property was known as the Medical Arts Building. The lobby was a morgue, and its fireplace was a pilot for the crematorium on the top floor. So obviously, there were once a lot of dead people on this property, and hotel guests often report unexplained noises, apparition sightings, and the feeling of being touched. Paranormal activities are reported to Emily Morgan staff on the regular, many of which regard a woman in a white dress. Other unexplained happenings include flickering lights, phones ringing in the middle of the night, and a tub filled with ocean-blue water even though no one had run a bath.
The resident ghost at Francis Marion is Yankee shoe salesman Ned Cohen, who fell in love with a Southern belle while she was vacationing in New York. Cohen later traveled to South Carolina, where the couple had a romantic weekend that ended in terror. The woman left him in the middle of the night without saying goodbye, resulting in Cohen’s alleged suicide “face down, body smashed in the middle of King Street.” A note was found in his coat pocket that read, “I’m sorry; my family will never understand us. Goodbye,” which many suspect had to do with post-Civil War tensions between the North and South. Although he was buried in Cooperstown, New York, it’s rumored that his spirit lives at the Francis Marion. Guests have felt his presence, a brush on the cheek, and the feeling of someone watching over them while they sleep.
The Hotel Chelsea is famous for housing a seemingly infinite number of celebrities including Mark Twain, Janis Joplin, Ethan Hawke, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Cher, Madonna, and Andy Warhol. Sex Pistols bass guitarist Sid Vicious also lived here with his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. She was found stabbed to death on the bathroom floor of their room. Vicious was arrested for her murder, but overdosed on heroin before his trial. It’s rumored that the couple’s ghosts haunt the hotel. Poet Dylan Thomas also died here, but the circumstances that surround his death aren’t suspicious. The writer suffered from bronchitis, pneumonia, and had a very high red blood cell count. Many claim they’ve seen his face around room 206, where he took his very last breath.
Hotel Sorrento is home to one of the dopest ghosts in the nation. Her name is Alice B. Toklas, and she is credited with inventing the pot brownie, which was called “Haschich Fudge” in her self-titled cookbook. Toklas is often seen wandering the halls near room 408, or rearranging drink glasses in the Dunbar Room. It’s unclear why the cannabis pioneer roams the property, because apparently her family moved to San Francisco more than 10 years before the hotel opened. Nonetheless, the hotel is capitalizing on its spooky resident with a Ms. Toklas cocktail, which is made with lucid absinthe, elderflower, chamomile, honey, and lemon juice.
Legend has it a woman named Kate Morgan got into an argument with her estranged husband on the train on Thanksgiving Day, then he abandoned her. She checked into the Hotel del Coronado by herself and waited four days for a lover to join her before she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Many have experienced paranormal happenings in her third-floor room, such as flickering lights, unexplained scents and sounds, items moving, opening and closing doors, drastic changes in temperature, footsteps, and voices. Some also claim to have seen Morgan, also known as the “beautiful stranger,” in the hallways and along the seashore.
Before La Fonda opened, the lot housed various inns where people engaged in violent gunfights and others were publicly hanged. One permanent resident, Judge John P. Slough, got into a fatal argument with someone in the lobby, where people often spot him wearing his signature black trenchcoat. Another man allegedly got drunk and gambled away all of his money before jumping headfirst into a well in the courtyard. Staff and guests who’ve dined at the hotel restaurant, La Plazuela, have seen a shadowy figure float to the center of the dining room floor before disappearing at the spot where the well used to be.
During the Great Depression, a husband and wife jumped to their deaths, and brought their 7-year-old daughter along with them. The child — who staff refers to as Molly — is often spotted rolling a red ball in the hallways while her parents dance in the ballrooms. The front desk frequently gets calls in the middle of the night from guests wondering if someone could contact the girl’s parents. Apparently, some housekeepers have gone as far as quitting their jobs because they were so sick of being chased by Molly.
Bogdan Oporowski/Wikimedia Commons
This antebellum plantation was reportedly built on an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground. An abundance of mysterious illnesses, poisonings, and murders have allegedly occurred at the now-bed-and-breakfast, including that of attorney William Drew Winter. He was shot by a stranger in 1871 and died trying to climb the stairs of his home. Many claim they can still hear his dying steps. Another frequently reported apparition is “Chloe,” a slave girl from the early 19th century whose image was “captured” in a photograph in 1992. Apart from ghost sightings, guests say they’ve woken up completely tucked into their beds, furniture has moved by itself, a piano has played on its own, and handprints have appeared in various places that no claims to have touched.
The most famous ghost at Don CeSar is the original owner, Thomas Rowe. During his time as a young scholar in London, he fell in love with an opera star named Lucinda. Shortly after her parents learned of their relationship, they whisked her away to Spain and they never saw each other again. A heartbroken Rowe, now in America, built the Don CeSar. It included a replica of the fountain where he and Lucinda used to meet up in Spain. It’s reported that a gentleman in a Panama hat and a white summer suit walks the grounds and even greets guests from afar, but disappears when approached. Hotel staffers have also alleged that they’ve heard knocks on doors when cleaning rooms, and that doors have graciously opened on their own to assist servers carrying room service trays.
There are a few tales tied to The Driskill, including a little girl who fatally chased her ball down the grand staircase. But the creepiest of all is that of the “suicide brides.” On two separate occasions exactly 20 years apart, a bride died by suicide in the bathtub of room 525 on her honeymoon. This is where people have reported the most unusual activity, including someone knocking loudly on the door when no one’s actually there. Civil War Colonel Jesse Driskill is floating around here, too. Shortly after he built the hotel, he lost it in a card game. His spirit smells like cigar smoke, which often makes itself present in ladies’ rooms.
Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Marry Todd Lincoln, and children visited the Equinox in 1865 because the summers in Washington, D.C., were too unbearable. After the president was assassinated, Mrs. Lincoln never returned, but both guests and workers say they’ve seen her and a small child floating around the third floor. Paranormal investigators who’ve visited the property say the hauntings aren’t threatening. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see or feel something spine-chilling.
This Hay-Adams is haunted by Henry Adams’ wife, photographer Marion Hooper Adams, who was better known as Clover. The couple lived in a mansion, which stood on the hotel’s property before it was built. In 1885, Clover died by suicide by ingesting potassium cyanide — one of the chemicals she used to develop her pictures. Now, she haunts the halls of the Hay-Adams, most actively near the anniversary of her death during the first two weeks of December. People have reported doors opening and closing, radios turning on and off, a woman crying, and disembodied voices. Some say her spirit smells like almonds — the same scent as the darkroom chemical that killed her.
The Hollywood Roosevelt is haunted by a handful of famous people including Montgomery Clift, who is often seen near and in his old room, 928, practicing the trumpet and watching over maids. Marilyn Monroe has been documented in suite 1200, where she stayed when her modeling career was just taking off. She mostly appears in mirrors. Other resident entities include a little girl in jeans and a pink jacket, a tuxedoed man in the Blossom Ballroom, and a man in a white suit playing the piano. Apparently, the operator will sometimes get calls from empty rooms, only to find the phone off the hook and no one in sight.
The Omni Grove Park Inn/Yelp
In the 1920s, it’s speculated that a young woman staying in room 545 either jumped or was pushed to her death in the Main Inn’s Palm Court, five floors below. She is reportedly still seen on the property and is called the Pink Lady because she wears a flowing pink dress. It’s mostly young children that claim to see her. Some only claim to catch a glimpse of pink mist, while others see a youthful, long-haired beauty in her elegant pink gown.
Ghosts at the Pfister have it out for MLB athletes. In 2001, Adrian Beltre slept with a bat in his bed because he heard knocking at his door, pounding from the other side of his headboard, and the air conditioner and TV kept flickering on and off. In 2008 Carlos Gomez said his iPod started playing music by itself across the room. He turned it off, stepped back, and it turned on again. In 2009, Brendan Ryan said he saw a moving light pass through the room. Months later a rookie ballplayer woke up to find his blinds and windows open twice before sleeping on the lobby couch and eventually fleeing the scene to a nearby motel. In 2013 Bryce Harper laid out his clothes for the next day. When he woke up, they were on the floor and a table was moved to the opposite side of the room. When he checked the latch, it was still locked.
The Queen Mary is an old luxury ship that carried soldiers during World War II. About 49 of them died onboard, and as many as 150 spirits haunt the vessel. Screams and other aggressive noises have been documented in the boiler room, where an 18-year-old sailor was reportedly sliced in half by a watertight door. People have also witnessed a creepy little girl playing hide and seek in an empty swimming pool. Check out the Queen’s Salon to catch the woman in white dancing in complete silence. There are over 300 rooms on this ship and if you stay in one, hotel staff will offer you a chest containing a Ouija board, tarot cards, a crystal ball, and other ghost-hunting props. You may just experience slamming doors, temperature changes, knocking, and kids crying.
It seems that the ghosts of the Sagamore still have quite an appetite. One couple, who were among the very first guests, has been seen descending from the second floor to hotel’s fine dining establishment, the Trillium, looking for a bite to eat. A smoke-scented spirit named Walter often appears in the restaurant’s service elevator. Another apparition of a tall woman dressed in a white evening dress has visited Sagamore eatery Mr. Brown’s. There, she spoke to a cook, then walked right through him and vanished. He quit that day and never returned. Out on the green, golfers might experience the spirit of a little boy near the Club Grill. In life, he was known to chase golf balls and sell them back to the pro shop, but was hit by a car in the process.
A truly tragic story is tied to this hotel. A woman named Patricia Wilson had separated from her husband of four years and in an effort to work things out, both agreed to meet at the Seelbach. Wilson’s husband was killed in a car accident on his way to meet her. Her dead body was later found at the bottom of the service elevator shaft. It’s unclear whether the fall was intentional or accidental. In years to follow, people started spotting her on the eighth floor and in the mezzanine. She is always wearing a blue dress. Others have reported another woman in ragged clothes standing behind them in the mirror, faint perfume scents, and disembodied footsteps. One couple even claims there was a man looking out their eighth-floor room. When they flicked the lights on, he vanished.
Room 217 was the temporary residence of horror author Stephen King and his wife. On the first night of their stay, King woke from a terrible dream about his 3-year-old son being chased down the hall. He got out of bed, lit a cigarette, and sat on the balcony to write the plot for his 1977 bestseller “The Shining.” It’s reported that this room is haunted by the head housekeeper, Elizabeth Wilson, who nearly died in a fiery explosion in 1911 when she entered the room during a power outage with a lit candle unsuspecting of a gas leak. She broke both ankles, but survived. Now, her ghost folds guests’ clothes and climbs into unmarried couples’ beds to force them apart. If you aren’t brave enough for a stay at the Stanley, perhaps you should do a little sight-seeing instead, but be wary because we bet you didn’t know that these famous places were haunted.
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