With Halloween just around the corner, we're all gearing up to delight in things that go bump in the night. Best of all, for enthusiasts of ghost stories and paranormal encounters, this scary season doesn't have to end. To experience chills and thrills year-round, consider treating your conference attendees to a stay at a haunted hotel.
Some of these properties have even made it to the Historic Hotels of America's list of the Top 25 Most Haunted Historic Hotels in the nation. Read on, if you dare.
- 401 Regent St., Excelsior Springs, Mo.
- Meeting space: 11,000 square feet
- Year built: 1888
With frequent spirit sightings, the 153-room Elms Hotel and Spa has earned its reputation as one of the most haunted places in Missouri. In fact, its ghostly guests are so renowned that the property was featured on an episode of SyFy's Ghost Hunters back in 2013.
Ten years after the Elms Hotel was built, it was destroyed by a fire. The hotel was rebuilt, but burned down yet again in 1910. Although no one died in either incident, it is rumored that one of the spirits seen on-site was involved in one of the fires, according to the hotel's website.
During Prohibition, the basement became a speakeasy for gangsters who stored liquor and held all-night gambling parties in the blocked-off rooms. Today, the basement has been transformed into a lap pool area, where the ghost of a man who was killed by the Mob during one of these illegal events can be seen. There have also been reports by both guests and staff of a maid on the third floor wearing a 1920s-style uniform. It is said that she is one of the more friendly inhabitants, and has lingered for all these years to oversee the housekeeping staff.
The last on the supernatural roster is a woman who wanders the halls searching for her child. In moments of distress, she is known to pull at people's hair or throw objects across the room. Guests can learn more about the Elms' haunted happenings by taking a tour led by the property's historian.
- 60 School St., Boston
- Meeting space: 23,000 square feet
- Year built: 1855
The 551-room Omni Parker House was opened in the 1800s by Harvey Parker, a well-known Boston hotelier. Parker was involved with the operation of the building until his death. Over the years, many guests have reported him interacting with them and inquiring about their stay.
According to the Omni brand, there have been many ghost encounters here, but one in particular happened around 1950. "An elderly woman guest insisted she saw an apparition outside room 1078. At first it was a misty apparition in the air, then it turned toward her," recalled the late longtime bellhop John Brehm in a 1992 Boston Globe interview. "She said it was a heavyset older man with a black mustache — Parker. He just looked at her, then faded away. She came downstairs and security went up to the 10th floor. They checked it out, but reported they couldn't find anything."
The third floor of the hotel is allegedly also ghost-ridden. The elevator has been reported to repeatedly arrive there and open its doors, though no one is in it and no one called it up. A reporter for the Austin American Statesman, Becca Hensley, confirmed this occurrence when she stayed there to research her article, "Boston’s Scariest Haunts."
"Nevertheless, my elevator does send itself several times to the third floor — though I don't push the button — and when I arrive nobody is waiting. 'Ah, yes,' says the woman at the front desk, as if it's nothing. 'That elevator’s been doing that since [actress] Charlotte Cushman died there,'" recounts Hensley.
If that isn't enough, Charles Dickens once stayed on the third floor of Omni Parker during his U.S. tour, practicing his speeches in a mirror that now hangs in the hotel's mezzanine. Some travelers report his silhouette still appears when they gaze into the glass.
The Sagamore is a luxury resort located on a private, 70-acre island in Lake George. It includes an extensive spa with 14 treatment rooms, eight dining options and an 18-hole golf course. In addition to being named one of the top golf resorts in North America, the Sagamore has been listed by USA Today as one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S.
A number of paranormal sightings have occurred over the years, including that of ghostly children who have been spotted out on the golf course and giggling in hallways. One boy in particular has been said to steal golf balls and throw them at people. Some guests have claimed that an eerie woman in white has entered their hotel rooms and frightened them while they're sleeping. Another spirit supposedly spoke to a hotel chef before walking right through him, causing him to quit.
The venue has 32,000 square feet of indoor meetings space, as well as 20,000 square feet of outdoor event space.
- 214 Royal St., New Orleans
- Meeting space: 26,000 square feet
- Year built: 1886
Hotel Monteleone is one of the last family-owned and -operated hotels in New Orleans. Built in 1886 as a then 64-room French Quarter hotel by Antonio Monteleone, a Sicilian shoe-factory operator, the property has been maintained by more than five generations of the namesake family.
According to the hotel's website, guests and staff at the now 522-room property have reported experiencing haunted events for years. The hotel has a restaurant door that reportedly opens almost every evening and then closes again, despite it being locked, an elevator that stops on the wrong floor, and a hallway that grows chilly and reveals the ghostly images of children playing when guests walk along it.
In 2003, the International Society of Paranormal Research spent several days at the Monteleone. While visiting, the team supposedly made contact with several entities, among them former employee William Wildemere, who died on-site of natural causes. Another spirit is that of a friendly toddler named Maurice Begere. According to the hotel's own lore, the boy died in the hotel, and his distraught parents returned frequently in hopes he might visit them. To this day, guests frequently recount seeing Begere near the room where he passed away.
Historic Hotels of America also says that a maid known as "Mrs. Clean" is often seen by guests. Paranormal researchers reportedly once asked why she stays at the property even though she is dead, and the maid — whose mother, grandmother and great-grandmother also worked there — responded that she was picking up after housekeeping to ensure high standards.
- 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, Fla.
- Meeting space: 69,400 square feet
- Year built: 1926
Since its inception in 1926, there have been many occurrences at the iconic 271-room Biltmore Hotel that have led to the plethora of paranormal activity witnessed by guests, staff and mediums alike.
In March 1929, Thomas "Fatty" Walsh, a New York gangster, was staying in the Everglades Suite, which takes up the entire 13th floor. The room, which has now been dubbed the "Al Capone suite," was used as a speakeasy and casino by Fatty and his friends. After getting into an argument, most likely over a gambling debt, fellow mobster Edward Wilson shot Fatty, who died on the scene — and has decided to take up post-mortem residence at the hotel.
The gangster's ghost opens doors for waitresses and brings guests to his suite. But not just anyone can be summoned to the infamous 13th floor; only attractive women who would be Fatty's type have found themselves taking a detour. One woman recounted her stay at the Biltmore with her husband: They were in the elevator when all of a sudden the doors opened on floor 13. Since the doors wouldn't close, the woman stepped off, only for the elevator to then immediately shut and deliver her husband to the lobby. With staff in tow, he returned to the suite to find his spooked wife saying she heard laughter and smelled cigar smoke.
During World War II, the hotel was converted into a military hospital and many soldiers died there. After the war, the site was used as the University of Miami's medical school, where cadavers were stored and studied.
When the building was closed between 1968 and 1986, high school kids would sneak in, only to realize they weren't the only ones there. Local tales include seeing ghosts floating through the hallways and being tapped on the shoulder by a man in an army uniform. Those who stood on the golf course behind the hotel could see windows opening and closing, lights turning on and off, and hear music despite the electricity being turned off.
The list of spooky encounters at the hotel is long and continues to grow; there are also accounts of a woman in white in guest rooms and a couple waltzing across the ballroom floor before vanishing into thin air.
- 100 East San Francisco St., Santa Fe, N.M.
- Meeting space: 20,112 square feet
- Year built: 1922
This 180-room hotel has been open to travelers since 1922, but the location had been home to an inn for many years before that. When Santa Fe was founded in 1607, records show that a lodge at the East San Francisco Street address was one of the first businesses established in the new settlement, according to Legends of America. Local lore also suggests that court was held in the original structure, as well as executions, with guilty offenders being hanged in what is now the hotel lobby.
In addition, Historic Hotels of America reports that in 1867, John P. Slough, then-chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot to death in the hotel lobby following a dispute. It is said that his presence still lingers. And more than a century ago, a distraught salesman who lost his company's money in a card game leaped to his death down a deep well located outside the gambling hall of the property.
Through the years, the hotel has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Today, La Fonda on the Plaza is said to host several ghosts that have carried over from sites past. Aside from ongoing sightings of John Slough, the hotel's dining room is also haunted, according to Legends of America. The eatery, known as La Plazuela, is situated directly over the old well, and both guests and staff alike have reported a ghostly figure (namely that of the suicidal salesman) that walks to the center of the room, then seemingly jumps into the floor and disappears.
- 123 E Broughton St., Savannah, Ga.
- 2,675 square feet of meeting space
- Year built: 1851
The Marshall House — now an elegant 65-room hotel with three meeting rooms — served as a Union hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War and remained a hospital through two yellow fever epidemics.
Legend has it that guests often encounter ghosts in the hallways and foyers of the hotel late at night. Many have said they saw soldiers with missing limbs wandering about on the first floor. Others have heard children running down the halls of the hotel, or have reported faucets turning on by themselves with no explanation.
To enhance the thrilling experience, hotel management offers groups staying at the Marshall House the opportunity to book haunted and cemetery tours of Savannah.
- 65 Avenida de Otero, Tubac, Ariz.
- Meeting space: 7,000 square feet
- Year built: 1959
Historic Hotels of America reports that at least four unique ghosts — a boy, a lady in gray, a hyperactive man and a cowboy — frequent this historic hotel. The ongoing paranormal encounters have been investigated by the Arizona Paranormal Society, which reported hearing moans, "woos" and "oohs," and seeing objects slide across the floor throughout the evening.
The Paranormal Phenomena Blog in 2010 reported on travelers experiencing unexplained, unpleasant smells throughout their stays here. They also recounted the terrifying tale of a hotel worker who once stayed the night after a long day's work. "Suddenly, he felt the couch move," according to the blog, "and not just a little. Where his head lay relaxing on the arm rest, the entire couch lifted up from the floor, with him in it, and jerked a good distance toward where the television stood in the far right corner of the room.
"The unexpected jolt startled him. But before he could get up from the couch, the large heavy curtains which hung snugly on an iron curtain rod next to the couch lifted up and came down in a swoosh on top of the employee, draping his face and upper torso." You can read the full tale here.
- 18 Washington Square W, Salem, Mass.
- Meeting space: 9,000 square feet
- Year built: 1925
It's no secret that the city of Salem has some serious haunts, and the 89-room Hawthorne Hotel is no exception. Guests have reported moving furniture, flickering lights, flushing toilets, crying babies and unexplained noises.
Room 325 is allegedly the most haunted, while room 612 — and the sixth floor in general — is where the apparition of a woman can be found roaming the halls. She is believed to be the ghost of Bridget Bishop, who was the first woman executed during the Salem Witch Trials, and who may have owned an apple orchard on the land where the hotel was built. However, some historians argue that her orchard was in a different part of the city.
In the hotel's restaurant, the Tavern, a ship's wheel is one of many nautical decorations. The wheel is known to move back and forth on its own, as if being controlled by one of the Salem sea captains who used to gather at the property.
If the hotel doesn't provide enough frights, it's just a two-minute walk from Salem Witch Museum.
- 2365 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
- Meeting space: 13,137 square feet
- Year built: 1901
One of the oldest hotels in Hawaii, the 791-room Moana Surfrider opened in 1901 and was the first luxury property along Waikiki Beach, beating out famed establishments like the Royal Hawaiian by more than 25 years. The historic hotel is often referred to as "The First Lady of Waikiki," and while it undoubtedly embodies old-time elegance, it is also rumored to be haunted, per the following.
Jane Stanford, cofounder of Stanford University, died in her room at Moana Surfrider on Feb. 28, 1905, where she had gone following an attempt on her life. She had been poisoned one month earlier at her Nob Hill mansion in San Francisco, when she consumed water that tasted bitter. According to a report by Stanford Magazine, a subsequent investigation showed the drink had been laced with a lethal dose of strychnine. Her maid fell under suspicion and was dismissed, though no evidence existed pointing to a specific culprit or motive. Depressed and suffering from a cold, Stanford sailed to Hawaii to recover.
On the evening of her passing, Stanford allegedly asked for soda to settle her stomach, which her personal secretary, Bertha Berner, prepared for her. According to the report, Berner was a trusted employee of 20 years, and the only other individual also present during the previous incident. Stanford died in her hotel room that evening of what was determined to be yet another case of strychnine poisoning. Berner was never charged with the murder, and what exactly happened remains a mystery to this day.
According to Historic Hotels of America, there have been reports that the her ghost still frequents the hotel. Guests and hotel staff have said that they've seen her roaming around at night, trying to find her room (and perhaps a glass of water).
- 333 Wonderview Ave., Estes Park, Colo.
- Meeting space: 41,000 square feet
- Year built: 1909
No list of haunted properties is complete without this 142-room hotel, which also happened to be the inspiration for the ultimate haunted hotel story, The Shining. Author Stephen King spent a night here in 1974, and the hotel's grandeur, its remote location set against the stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and its historic details gave him plenty of spooky inspiration. (The hotel’s bartender was even named Grady.) The Stanley is reputed to have its share of spirits and supernatural occurrences, from the sound of giggling children near the old servants' quarters, to recent reports of appearances by former owner F.O. Stanley, who died in 1940.
The property has embraced its spine-tingling reputation, and offers visitors nighttime ghost tours and a theatrical séance hosted by the property’s "resident illusionist," Claire Voyant. Whether they believe in ghosts or not, attendees will find plenty to like about the Stanley’s meeting offerings, with 41,000 square feet of event space including the Pavilion (offering views of Rocky Mountain National Park), the 2,640-square-foot Concert Hall, and the Music Room, with historic details such as arched Palladian windows and the unexplained tinkling of piano keys even when the room is empty.
- 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, Fla.
- Meeting space: 38,000 square feet
- Year built: 1928
This iconic pink palace on the Gulf of Mexico is home to a ghost love story for the ages. The owner, Thomas Rowe, built the 277-room hotel as a tribute to a Spanish opera singer named Lucinda, who he met in England while attending the opera Maritana. They quickly fell in love and referred to each other as Maritana and Don CeSar during secret rendezvous at a secluded fountain. But Lucinda's parents forbid the relationship and brought her back to Spain. Rowe never heard from the singer again until receiving news of her death.
The Don CeSar's lobby courtyard and fountain are an exact replica of the star-crossed lovers' meeting spot. Today, visitors and employees of the hotel recount seeing a man wearing a white suit and Panama hat, strolling the grounds and greeting guests. The former owner's presence is notably felt on the fifth floor, which is where he lived. Housekeepers have heard knocking on the door while cleaning rooms, but find no one there. In the kitchen, doors open by themselves for waiters with their hands full of trays.
Sometimes the man will be seen walking with a woman wearing a traditional Spanish dress who is thought to be Lucinda, reuniting with Rowe in the afterlife.
- 833 Poydras Street, New Orleans
- Meeting space: 12,000 square feet
- Year built: 1907
At the turn of the 19th century, the land where Le Pavillon sits today (near the French Quarter and New Orleans' Central Business District) was deemed inhospitable and dangerous, according to an account by Ghost City Tours. And when the 226-room hotel opened in 1907, it quickly became evident that several of the spirits left over from the neighborhood's murderous past decided to extend their stay.
Over the years, one paranormal investigating team cited catching nearly 100 undead entities roaming the property throughout the night. "Some say the reason the hotel is so haunted is because it sits on a portal to a parallel universe," explains Maria Pinheiro, media director of Ghost City Tours. "There's no other explanation, paranormal investigators have said, for counting so many different spirits within a hotel's walls."
Haunted Rooms reports that guests, staff and investigators have come into contact with ghostly figures that stand at the foot of their beds. Legend has it that bed sheets are often tugged off of guests while they sleep and that strange and unexplained noises are often heard. Guests have also detailed odd occurrences such as their shower heads turning on and off in the middle of the evening.
Pinheiro says one particular guest reported seeing a gray-haired woman appear before his eyes. The ghostly apparition allegedly sat on his bed, touched him with cold hands and said she'd never let him go before vanishing in plain sight.
Unlike some haunted hotels in the city, Le Pavillon truly embraces its paranormal reputation. Upon arrival, travelers can obtain a pamphlet detailing the hotel's haunted history, including a paranormal investigation that was conducted in 1996 by parapsychologist Dr. Larry Montz. Groups looking for that "something extra" to happen during their visit can request staying in one of the hotel's more haunted rooms.