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Looking for a creepy good time this Halloween? Sleep (or don’t sleep!) in one of the country’s haunted hotels! If you’re looking for a spooky stay, read on to learn about the ghosts who checked in and never checked out of one of these hotels across America.
Writer Cindy Richards checked into the Hotel Alex Johnson, one of South Dakota’s famed haunted hotels, conveniently located in downtown Rapid City. the last thing she worried about was a ghostly visitation.
Then the clock struck 3 am and she woke with a start.
She heard drumming — IN HER ROOM! — and then felt as though someone had laid a weighted blanket over her. The haunting lasted a few minutes, but her restful sleep was over. Just as she finally drifted off again, around 5 am, the ghost returned.
It made her a believer in ghosts and hauntings. But it didn’t make her want to spend another night in at the Hotel Alex Johnson.
Would You (Not) Sleep in a Haunted Hotel?
Certainly, hearing ghost stories about a haunted hotel and choosing to book a guest room IN a haunted hotel is not for the faint of heart. Yet, thousands of ghost hunters and other believers bed down for the night at famous haunted hotels around the world, especially during Halloween.
From flickering lights to faucets that turn on by themselves, the hotels on this list are reported hot spots of paranormal activity, offering guests the chance to have their own spooky experience.
Are you one of those? I am. I love ghost stories, even as a youngster, the creepier the better, the scarier even better! Now that I’m an adult with an income that can support my haunted hotel stay habits, I’m ready to check in — and hopefully check out.
I’ve stayed at several haunted hotels, anticipating ghostly visits, and then totally freaked out when it happens! Yet, I keep going back for more.
If this sounds like you, read on to discover where to find the best-haunted hotels in the USA. Several claim to be the most haunted places in the country. Which one will shiver your timbers?
Haunted Hotels in Arkansas
Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
75 Prospect Ave
Eureka Springs AR 72632
Are you brave enough to spend the night at America’s Most Haunted Hotel? From glowing orbs to ghostly shenanigans, Arkansas’s 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa claims visitors can share rooms with “guests who checked out but never left.”
And believe it or not, my family shares my obsession with all things haunted, and we decided to check into the Crescent Hotel Arkansas. As a multigenerational family of five, a hotel room wasn’t feasible, so we stayed at the cottages, part of and across the parking lot from the main hotel. It was a lovely two-bedroom, treetop cottage, but alas there were no ghost sightings here.
The luxury hotel opened in the Ozarks in 1886 and cost $249 million to build. By the 1930s, the hotel had fallen on hard times and a shady character named Norman Baker bought it and opened a sham cancer hospital, with patients disappearing. Eventually, Baker was prosecuted; but not for murder, for mail fraud. That leaves the question: did he get away with murder? Many think he did.
I first discovered The Crescent Hotel while watching the popular SYFY series, Ghost Hunters, revealing the hotel’s hauntings. While I am intrigued by ghost stories, some of them totally terrify me. Yet I’m always the first to say “Let’s do it” when presented with a ghost tour, such as at this Eureka Springs hotel.
We joined the early evening group for a Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, available whether a hotel guest or not. My daughter, her husband, my 16-year-old grandson, my 7-year-old granddaughter and I joined the early evening group ghost tour. (Apparently, the late-night tours are reserved for adults.)
SheBuysTravel Tip: The hotel offers a less-spooky Kids Ghost Tour, ages 5-12, accompanied by a guardian age 18 (with complimentary access). This 45-minute walking tour is a kid-friendly introduction to the ghosts.
Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour
The ghost tour included the history of the hotel, interesting to me but not so much to the grandkids. As America’s Most Haunted Hotel, the walking tour explores the hotel’s nooks and crannies (including its morgue) and retells the stories of past guests who have “never checked out.”
Ghost hunters believe that the area over the hospital morgue, where Baker’s victims ended up, is a portal to “the other side.” During the tour, my grandson and I volunteered to step inside the morgue, and I can say I’m not a fan! It was definitely claustrophobic and hair-raising creepy.
We also were shown the room with the glass jars discovered buried in the backyard and filled with various “things” – but I had no intention of getting a closer look. However, my grandson and granddaughter were definitely intrigued, taking a few steps closer to get a better look.
Our guides also told us of several resident ghost stories including two who died falling from the roof (a young Victorian-era woman and a stonemason named Michael) and Room 3500’s Lady in Victorian Lingerie.
The bottom line is that it is a fun (and spooky) activity that we all enjoyed.
Regardless of whether you find a ghost, the ghoulish history of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa will make you shudder.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Can’t get enough spooky stories? Gather by the fire pit for tales of witches, monsters and apparitions told by the ghost tour guides at the hotel’s outdoor Crescent Moon Theatre. And seriously the dark corners of this historic hotel are enough to freak anyone out.
California Haunted Hotels
Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, California
1500 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118
Amber Johnson went on a ghost hunt at the Hotel del Coronado, which is rumored to be haunted by Kate Morgan, a young woman who checked into Hotel del Coronado in 1892—and never checked out.
Amber says, “On our ghost hunt, we used what I thought was a silly app that detected “movement.’ I’m not really a believer in stuff like that, but it creeped me out. The app had a sensor for ghost activity. In certain areas where the activity was high, random words came across the screen. Or at least we thought they were random until we ran some of them by the hotel’s archivist and several of the more random ones (I think there was the word monkey?) had connections to the hotel.”
A Google search for “Haunted Hotel del Coronado” pulls up pages and pages of stories about ghostly visitors to the San Diego area hotel.
Most of the reports center on the third-floor guestroom where Kate stayed. According to the hotel’s website, visitors have reported “flickering lights, a television that turns itself on and off, breezes coming from nowhere, inexplicable scents and sounds, items moving of their own accord, doors that randomly open and close, abrupt changes in room temperature, and unexplained footsteps and voices.”
Haunted Ship – Queen Mary, Docked in Long Beach, California
1126 Queens Hwy
Long Beach, CA, 90802
How about a haunted ship? Writer Catherine Parker stayed in the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
Catherine says, “The staterooms are vintage and feel more haunted. It’s known as the haunted ship and it even offers a haunted tour. I didn’t explore after dark, but my family joked about what we would do if we saw something.”
The haunted tour involves exploring some of the paranormal “hot spots” on the Queen Mary on a two-hour ship walk. Visitors can see rooms and compartments not often seen by the general public.
The hotel does not recommend the tour for younger kids. In fact, when Cindy Richards did the tour with her then-11-year-old daughter, it was far too dark and scary for both of them!
Claremont Club and Spa, Berkley, California
41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley, CA, 94705
The Claremont Club and Spa in Berkley, California, was originally built as a castle-style home for a wealthy family in the 19th century. After a fire destroyed it in 1901, it was rebuilt as a hotel that opened in 1915.
Legend has it that the hotel is haunted either as the result of the fire or the death of a young girl, whose apparition is often seen in Room 422.
The Hollywood Roosevelt, Los Angeles, California
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA, 90028
The Hollywood Roosevelt on Hollywood Boulevard has hosted numerous celebrities through the years. According to legend, some of them stuck around.
Marilyn Monroe’s ghost appears to hotel guests in the reflection of the mirror in her old room, and the spirit of a young girl allegedly roams the hotel in search of her mother.
Haunted Hotels in Colorado
Psychics and paranormal investigators will tell you that Halloween releases a special spirited energy in the air, enticing ghosts to walk the halls of historic hotels perhaps more often than usual.
Perhaps the spookiest moment of my life to date was when I dared to explore the haunted hotels of Colorado including the Stanley a few years back. I had already stayed at this haunted historic hotel, but this was the first time a ghost had visited me.
These Colorado haunted hotels are guaranteed to send the chills down your spine.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
333 Wonderview Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517
“Paranormal activity is at its all-time high in October, especially at historic hotels,” according to Madame Vera, the resident psychic at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.
I sat down with Madame Vera during a visit to one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. She went on to add that perhaps that was due to people being more open to visits from the other world.
One of the first horror films I watched was The Shining—and raise your hands if that still makes you want to hide under the covers! While his visit to The Stanley Hotel inspired Stephen King to write this novel, the Hollywood movie wasn’t actually filmed at this haunted hotel in Colorado.
Still, there are plenty of spirits roaming these haunted hallways, hotel lobby and rooms.
Real-life ghost sightings and hauntings have been recorded (and rumored) at The Stanley Hotel since as far back as 1911, just two years after its opening in 1909.
The most infamous of all is Room 217 where Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, a housekeeper, was electrocuted during a lightning storm. Although she wasn’t killed, this guest room is a hotbed of paranormal activity, as are many other rooms in this haunted hotel.
Ghost Tours at The Stanley Hotel
Night tours are already creepy, right? It’s dark, and guests are venturing into places they’ve never been. Combine that with the tour guide telling stories about past guests’ ghost sightings, and you’ve got a recipe for a spooky Halloween.
A group of us went on one of The Stanley Hotel’s guided night ghost tours, and we used our phones and cameras to snap many photos (looking for orbs) and turned the recorder device to listen for ghosts.
We also downloaded paranormal apps like EMF Meters and ghost detector radars (many free). The hotel also provided paranormal devices such as drowsing rods and other meters.
A Ghostly Visit
I admit I was at first skeptical. I’m not a believer, but I’m not necessarily an unbeliever of ghosts. Yet when I toured the concert hall next to the Stanley, I felt a definite decrease in temperature and I felt a presence. Several of my photos also showed orbs.
That night, after a calming nightcap, I returned to my room and quickly fell asleep, only to have “something” wake me up. An eerie presence and a very strong smell of roses— and this stay occurred in October.
I turned on the TV to calm me down, only to have it default to the 24-hour showing of The Shining. I quickly switched to another station, and at the advice of our guide, chanted, “You are not welcome” until I fell asleep.
The next morning when our group visited Madame Vera, she immediately said, “Someone had a visit from Mrs. Stanley (original owner of the hotel). She was worried about you and brought roses.”
I gulped and said it was me, and Madame Vera related that Mrs. Stanley looked out for the guests, especially women when she felt like other “male ghosts” were visiting them.
The Stanley Hotel Spirited Night Tour Night Tour is 60 minutes and costs $30 per person. No one under age 8 is permitted.
The Brown Palace, Denver Colorado
321 17th St.
Denver, CO, 80202
Downtown Denver’s haunted hotels include the historic Brown Palace. The triangular space that once served as President (elect) Dwight D. Eisnehower’s campaign headquarters and a private gentlemen’s club, is the area of the hotel with the most spooky stories.
This 1892 hotel regularly has reports of lights turning off and on, carpet “crawling” under guests’ feet, and a bartender who appears to go in and out of the walls. Also, just outside the Club entry near the 90-degree angled space, a man in a dark suit or uniform and cap, similar to an old-fashioned railroad conductor, is spotted retreating into the ground floor or corner wall. When the hotel first opened, this is also where the Rock Island Railroad ticket office was located.
The Brown Palace does offer historical tours, which also highlight tales of unexplained phenomena and spirits who appear to have chosen to spend eternity at The Brown Palace. The tour price is $20 per person and $10 for overnight guests. Reservations are highly recommended.
Read More: Looking for more holiday hotels? Check out these Thanksgiving hotels and these Christmas hotels.
Haunted Hotels in Louisiana
Cornstalk Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana
915 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA, 70116
Even people who don’t scare easily are freaked out by the Cornstalk Hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
It was built in the 1850s (pre-Civil War era) and some original residents remain.
Says one guest: “We’d sit out on the veranda and listen in to the hourly stops made by guided ghost tours, so I figured that played into what I thought I’d felt. And maybe even some of what we’d seen. The light in the bathroom would go on and off; just an electrical issue, of course—it’s an old house. The door to the sitting room would open when I knew I’d closed it. Again, it’s an old place, the foundation could be askew causing the doors to not quite fit into their frames.
“The view from the veranda is gorgeous, and I love to take pictures of architecture. One of those pictures, the third in a series of six, had more than tourists and wrought iron in it. Now I know what you’re going to say: ‘It’s a smudge on the lens.’
“But there’s no smudge in the other five photos taken before and after the ‘mist.’ Maybe it’s a blur created by a person. You can clearly see the people in the image. The man closest isn’t running.
“It was October in NOLA, no fog and it wasn’t humid. Is it a ghost? I doubt it. But it’s fun to speculate.”
Haunted Hotels in Massachusetts
Lizzie Borden B&B, Fall River, Massachusetts
230 2nd St.
Fall River, MA 02721
At the spooky Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Mass., book a stay in the murder room. You’ll need to feel brave to tour this Victorian mansion. The autopsies were done on the dining room table and replicas of the skulls are displayed there.
Though Lizzie was acquitted, the double murder of her parents, by ax, is still considered unsolved.
Not surprisingly, the house books up quickly, especially on weekends.
But you don’t have to stay there to be scared. Join a 90-minute guided house tour during the daytime between 10 am and 3:30 pm. Or choose an evening interactive, hands-on ghost hunt. Or go all in and book the 10 pm tour of the first floor and basement.
Or, if you prefer getting your chills from the comfort of your own home, take a virtual ghost tour or house tour.
Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
215 Charles St.
Boston, MA, 02114
The Liberty Hotel has a long and storied past. Before opening in September of 2007, the Boston historical site served as a jail from 1851-1991. Housing notorious prisoners in its imposing granite facade, the Charles Street Jail was built in a “modern” style. Large windows and soaring ceilings provided prisoners with light and ventilation. These features remained in the jail’s makeover into a luxury hotel.
Home to infamous prisoners such as the Boston Strangler, The Liberty Hotel is said to be haunted by its former inmates.
Find out what happened when writer Nasreen Stump stayed at the Liberty Hotel.
Haunted Hotels in New Mexico
La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico
100 E. San Francisco St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
While the La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, may look relatively harmless by day, fans of haunted historic hotels may want to book a guest room here—or at least take one of the ghost tours. Ghostly footsteps can be heard pacing the hotel lobby and hallways, reportedly the ghost of the Honorable John P. Slough.
The judge spent his afterlife here after a deadly altercation in the hotel lobby back in 1867. Since this hotel has been around since 1607, you can be sure there are more ghostly encounters possible at La Fonda.
Haunted Hotels in South Dakota
Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City, South Dakota
523 6th St.
Rapid City, SD, 57701
The hotel that freaked out non-believer Cindy Richards, the Hotel Alex Johnson in the Black Hills displays a binder on the front desk in which guests recount their ghostly encounters. Most center around the lights turning on or the shower starting to run at odd hours of the night. Or guests who are convinced they turned off the lights and closed the door when they left their room only to return to find the door open and the lights on.
There were six people in Cindy’s traveling party and everyone reported being awakened at 3 am on the dot. While they were all freaked out, she is the only one who had an actual visitor.
The hotel is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts, but the star of the ghostly show is a jilted bride who committed suicide by throwing herself out of a room on the eighth floor. The majority of the visitors’ hauntings happen on the eighth floor, although Cindy was in a room on the fourth floor.
Haunted Hotels in Texas
The Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas
204 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX, 78205
This hotel, built in 1857 on the original battlegrounds of the Alamo, is said to have many ghostly residents. Some are famous — President Teddy Roosevelt — and some infamous — Richard King, a Confederate tycoon who died in one of the hotel’s suites. That room is now considered to be one of the most haunted at the hotel.
A hotel maid who was killed by her abusive husband is the most often sighted ghost.
Emily Morgan Hotel, San Antonio, Texas
705 E Houston St.
San Antonio, TX 78205-2023
The building that houses the Emily Morgan Hotel was constructed to be a Medical Arts Building for doctors and other medical professionals. The building had a morgue and crematorium.
Not surprisingly, the hauntings tend to be medical in nature — guests say they have heard “medical carts” outside their rooms, smelled antiseptic or saw a woman in white walking the halls.
The staff has reported hauntings too. After cleaning a room, the pillows from the bed are tossed to the ground. Doors close for no reason and staff reported feeling a presence on certain floors with no one else around.
Haunted Hotels in Washington, D.C.
Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.
1127 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC, 20036
Said to be home to the ghost of Calvin Coolidge, The Mayflower Hotel haunting is most pronounced on January 20th. That’s the anniversary of Coolidge’s inauguration as president in 1925. But he was mourning the death of his 16-year-old son, so he did not attend the inaugural ball that was held at the Mayflower that night.
Each year at 10 pm on January 20, the lights flicker and the elevators get stuck on the eighth floor and stay there for several minutes.
Haunted Hotels in New York
The Shanley Hotel, New York
56 Main St.
Napanoch, New York 12458
This 1845 hotel in the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains has so many tragedies in its history that it reportedly has too many spirits to count.
Owned by Beatrice and James Shanley in the early 1900s, the couple lost three children, all before their first birthday. Many guests have reported seeing a woman in a period dress wandering the hallways and said they smelled her fragrant perfume.
Christine Tibbetts says
Such a concept – 10 years worth of haunted October travel following these tips.
Angie Walker says
Totally freaked out! Loved this article! I live in California and have never stayed at the Claremont (only spent a day at the hotel) I am not eager to return with a hair-raising story!