By David DeMoss
Most of us have seen the movie Tower of Terror — a Disney movie about a haunted hotel. However, how many of us have stayed in a hotel that is actually haunted? From reportings of a female ghost roaming the halls at Moana Surfrider to hearing mysterious noises and doors slamming shut at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the list from the Lodging Staff below features 25 of the most haunted hotels in America. Some of these stories are truly eerie, be warned!
Historic Hotels of America has over 300 hotels with long and storied histories, some of which have reported ghosts and paranormal activity throughout their halls and in guestrooms. From ghosts who have been around since the Revolutionary War to jilted lovers, below are 25 of the most haunted hotels, ordered by age.
- Concord’s Colonial Inn in Concord, Massachusetts (1716)
The original part of the inn was built in the early 1700s before the Revolutionary War. With such a long and robust history, it’s rumored that there are spirits that still wander the halls of this historic hotel. One of the most sought-after guestrooms is room 24. During the Revolutionary War, the right side of the inn was privately owned by Dr. Timothy Minot. When patriot soldiers were injured at the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the North Bridge, they were brought to his home. Dr. Minot used what is now the Liberty Room as a hospital and room 24 as an operating room. Several soldiers who were operated on in this died during surgery and were carried directly downstairs into room 27, which was used as a morgue. Guests have reported lights flickering in room 27 or turning on and off completely. One guest woke up in the middle of the night and every light was on in the room, including the television. Others reported hearing hushed whispers coming from the closet and have seen the door to the room slamming shut on its own.
- The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (1773)
Ghostly rumors continue to swirl at the inn, among the most haunted hotels, according to Historic Hotels of America. The fourth floor and guestroom 301 have been said to have the most activity. Both cleaning staff and guests have claimed to see a “ghostly young girl carrying flowers” and “a man in a top hat.” It is rumored that guests have awoken to the feeling of someone standing over them at the foot of the bed. Cold spots, unexplained knocks, and electrical disturbances have all been reported.
- Omni Parker House, Boston (1855)
This hotel was opened by Harvey Parker and he was involved with the operations of the building until his death in 1884. Over the years, many guests have reported seeing him inquiring about their stay—a true “spirited” hotelier, even after his death.
- The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, New York (1883)
The Sagamore has its own American ghost story. Opened in 1883 as a playground resort for summer residents of Millionaire’s Row, this rambling historic hotel sits in a 6-million-acre state park and is rumored to accommodate a ghost or two. Stories persist of the ghost of a silver-haired woman wearing a blue polka-dot dress descending from the second floor to the Trillium, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.
- 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (1886)
The 1886 Crescent Hotel, known today as being a mountaintop spa resort in the Arkansas Ozarks, was once used as a Cancer Curing Hospital under the control of the hospital’s owner, reported charlatan Norman Baker from Muscatine, Iowa. Baker operated his Eureka Springs’ facility from 1937 until December 1940. Among the rumored paranormal patrons are Michael, the Irish stonemason who, while constructing the building back in 1885, fell to his death in the footprint of what is now room 218. There’s also Theodora—a patient and helper during the days when the hotel was owned by Norman Baker, who supposedly resides in room 419. Guests have reported that she placed bags in front of the door from the inside, making it hard for guests to open their door upon their return.
- Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana (1886)
A maid, known as “Mrs. Clean,” reputedly haunts the hotel. Paranormal researchers once asked why she stayed, and the maid, whose mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother also worked at the hotel, supposedly said she was picking up after housekeeping to ensure high standards.
- Jekyll Island Club Resort in Jekyll Island, Georgia (1887)
Over the years, the Jekyll Island Club Resort has seen many families come and go since it opened in 1887. With all that time, staff and guests have reported many supernatural encounters. One such involves the family of J.P. Morgan. Sans Souci, one of the buildings at the Jekyll Island Club Resort, is a four-story structure erected in 1896 as one of the first condominiums to ever be built. It was built originally for families to use, including the family of J. Pierpont Morgan, whose rooms were located on the third floor, north end of the property facing the Jekyll River. As the story goes, he was a lover of cigars—one could tell where he was by following the trail of smoke. To avoid criticisms for his favorite hobby, he would rise early every morning by 5 am to have a smoke on the porch. While most contemporary guests are not rising at such an early hour for a cigar, some who have stayed in the Morgan’s old apartment report they have awakened to the faint smell of cigar smoke wafting in.
- Union Station Nashville, Autograph Collection (1900)
One of Nashville’s most iconic landmarks, Union Station Hotel resides in a building that previously served as the city’s buzzing railway station. The hotel is also said to have a resident ghost, Abigail. Legend has it that during World War II, a young woman named Abigail said goodbye to her soldier on the Union Station train platform before he shipped off to France. When she arrived at that same spot to greet him on his return, she was instead met with word that he was killed in action. Distraught, Abigail threw herself in front of a passing locomotive. The forlorn spirit of Abigail, still looking for her lost love, can reportedly be seen wandering the main terminal and her presence felt in room 711. Now known as the Abigail Room, guests can request to stay in the haunted suite, which is decorated unlike any other room in the hotel with antique furnishings, a four-poster bed, and artwork inspired by her tale.
- Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa in Honolulu, Hawaii (1901)
On February 28, 1905, the untimely death of Jane Stanford, co-founder of Stanford University, made headlines everywhere. Stanford, who was vacationing in Hawaii following a strychnine poisoning attempt on her life, died in her room at the Moana. There have been reports that the ghost of Stanford still frequents the hotel, whose ocean vistas are said to have brought her short-lived peace. Guests and hotel staff have said that they’ve seen her walking at night trying to find her room.
- Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (1902)
Known affectionately by staff members as “the princess”, Caroline Foster was a long-time inhabitant of the hotel. Princess Caroline Foster’s ties to the resort go back to its inception when her husband, railroad tycoon Joseph Stickney, built the grand resort in 1902. Incorporating special accommodations for his wife, including an indoor swimming pool and a private dining room for Caroline known today as the “Princess Room.” A prominent figure at the resort since its opening, many guests who have visited continue to report sightings of the regal Caroline: visions of an elegant woman in Victorian dress, light taps on doors, and items suddenly disappearing and then reappearing in the exact place they were lost. But perhaps the most common sighting of Caroline is in room 314, where guests report seeing a vision of the woman sitting at the edge of their bed.
- The Seelbach Hilton Louisville, Kentucky (1905)
Legend says two lovers were to be married at the hotel in 1907, but the groom met an untimely death on his way to the wedding. His distraught bride threw herself down the elevator shaft, falling ten stories to her death. The bride is said to continue to haunt the halls of this historic hotel.
- Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, Nevada (1907)
Built in 1907 and restored to its former grandeur and glory, the hotel is said to be home to several ghostly figures, one of which is a former bellhop who reportedly roams the halls and tries to give guests a hand with their luggage. The town of Tonopah was well known for silver mining and just beneath the Mizpah are old mining tunnels. The hotel had a run-in with a few very greedy miners and lost out on a large sum of money. As legend is told, three miners dug a hole into the old bank safe and robbed the hotel. One of the men turned his back on his two accomplices and shot them. He left them for dead and took off with the money and was never caught. As the story goes, those two miners still lurk in the basement.
- The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina (1913)
There is a strange, but gentle spirit residing within the walls of Asheville’s historic Grove Park Inn, one of the most haunted hotels, according to Historic Hotels of America. Known simply as the “Pink Lady”, she has reportedly been seen, felt, and experienced by hotel employees and guests for nearly a century. The Pink Lady is believed to have met her demise on the Palm Court floor after falling two stories from the fifth floor to the third floor. She has been described as a dense, pinkish smoke.
- La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1922)
Shot to death in 1867 in the hotel lobby, John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, is said to have never left. Meanwhile, a distraught salesman, who jumped into the hotel well after losing a card game, has been seen emerging from the fountain by visitors and guests alike.
- The Emily Morgan San Antonio—a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Texas (1924)
The Emily Morgan is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in all of Texas. According to various reports, even some given by the hotel’s own management team, the most haunted floors are the seventh, ninth, and 14th floors, in addition to the basement. These particular floors once functioned as a psychiatric ward, surgery level, waiting area, and morgue, respectively, when the property was a medical building. Guests have reported strange things occurring on these levels: those staying on the 14th floor say that the smell is acutely reminiscent of a hospital. Guests have also reported opening doors to hallways only to find a scene from a hospital.
- Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina (1924)
In the early 1930s, New Yorker Ned Cohen was visiting his Southern lady friend in Charleston. Whatever happened was never clear, but he was found face down, body smashed in the middle of King Street facing toward the old Citadel’s parade grounds. Today, visitors have reported hearing eerie sounds at night of rustling silk drapes and rattling windows, and a vision of a man questioning either himself or the witness. Some see the ghost in short sleeves.
- Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts (1925)
The city of Salem is notorious for the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Among the most haunted hotels, according to Historic Hotels of America, Hawthorne Hotel has its own ghost stories, mostly surrounding sea captains returning to their gathering place. In particular, guests staying in rooms 612 and 325 have reported lights turning off and on.
- Hotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island (1926)
Hotel Viking has had many guests and staff members come and go, reporting stories of spirited guests. One story that has been reported repeatedly is of a little boy often seen cleaning the floors of the building’s historic wing. There have been about 10 different guests regaling a similar story of a young boy cleaning. This has also been confirmed by housekeeping staff.
- Hotel Saranac, Curio Collection by Hilton in Saranac, New York (1927)
This historic hotel—one of the most haunted hotels, according to Historic Hotels of America—was built on foundation of a former high school. It is the only hotel building remaining of 13 luxury hotels that once served this community. Fires led to the downfall of some of the area’s hotels, and Hotel Saranac was the area’s first fireproof hotel. It had a civil defense tower on top, where it is said that Boy Scouts would wait to watch for Russian Bombers. A guest of room 308, Emily Balsam, worked at a local college and had a cat. As the story goes, she was not feeling well for a while and became tired of people checking on her. She had her phone disconnected and stopped all housekeeping. She did not want to be disturbed for any reason. No one saw much of her after that. At some point the guest and staff started to complain about the smell coming from that room and the cat always “crying.” Emily refused to answer the door. The manager at the time went up to talk to her and found she had been dead for weeks and the cat was still alive. The cat was taken to a shelter, but it is said that the ghost of Emily’s cat can still be heard crying or scratching at the wall.
- Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, California (1927)
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, among Historic Hotels of America’s most haunted hotels, welcomes guests past and present and tells the tales of guests who never wanted to leave. When the evenings are still and the fog rolls in from the Bay, a woman has been seen strolling the hallways of the inn in period dress. Victoria, as she is fondly referred to by many of the inn’s tenured employees, had a family that traced back to the founding fathers of Sonoma Valley and is said to have celebrated her wedding and many anniversaries at the resort.
- Hassayampa Inn in Prescott, Arizona (1927)
The year it opened, the Hassayampa Inn developed its most famous legend. A very young bride named Faith Summers checked into a balcony suite with her much older husband in 1927. According to the story, Faith’s husband went out to buy cigarettes and never returned. Faith waited for three days and then took her life in despair. Since then, countless hotel guests and employees have reported encounters with a young woman throughout the hotel crying at the end of a bed, dressed in a pink gown in the hallway, and appearing and disappearing from rooms. One housekeeper saw a woman by a bed, holding flowers and crying. When asked if she needed help, the woman reportedly vanished. Kitchen staff have reported feeling Faith’s presence right before the burners on the stove suddenly went out. Others have reported strange cold spots in Faith’s honeymoon suite.
- The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Florida (1928)
Over the years, there have been a number of reported “sightings” at this historic hotel, one of the most haunted hotels in the country, according to Historic Hotels of America. The most common presence reportedly felt through the building is that of Mr. Thomas Rowe, the man who brought the Don CeSar to life and is the focal point of the love story surrounding the hotel. It is rumored that people have reported seeing Mr. Rowe throughout the hotel, on the beach, and even interacting with guests and staff. In the evening, it has been reported that guests have looked up to the windows on the fifth floor and see the figure of a man watching from above.
- Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland (1928)
Over the course of its more than 90-year history, the Lord Baltimore Hotel has had reports of paranormal activity, making it one of the most haunted hotels, according to Historic Hotels of America. Built in 1928, the hotel was one of the tallest building in the city (the Great Fire of 1904 destroyed Downtown Baltimore), and around the time of the Great Depression, there were at least 20 documented reports of “jumpers” from the 19th floor rooftop deck, including a couple who attended an event at the hotel with their daughter before proceeding to jump off the building. Their daughter, “Molly,” is said to walk the halls wearing a white dress and playing with a red ball. There has also been a lot of paranormal speculation around a handprint of a child on a wall in one of the hotel’s penthouses that won’t go away.
- Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C. (1930)
During the Shoreham’s early years, three people died unexpectedly in suite 870. At that time, the apartment was occupied by one of the hotel’s owners, Henry Doherty. Juliette Brown, the family’s housekeeper, dropped dead mysteriously one night at 4 a.m. Doherty’s daughter and wife also perished mysteriously in the same suite. During its vacancy there were claims of mysterious noises, doors slamming shut, and furniture moving—many of which happened around 4 a.m., the time of Juliette’s death.
- Tubac Golf Resort and Spa in Tubac, Arizona (1959)
There have been hauntings throughout this resort that have been reported by guests, including sights of a boy, a lady in gray, a very active gentleman spirit, and a cowboy. Some of these spirits are believed to date back to the early age of the resort when it was the Otero Ranch. The haunts have been investigated by the Phoenix, Arizona Paranormal Society and featured on the “Haunted Series, Arizona,” making it one of Historic Hotels of America’s most haunted hotels.