Footsteps in empty hallways, ghostly apparitions, lights flickering on and off and things that go bump in the nights. We’ve all heard these stories about paranormal activities in possibly haunted hotels. How about a ghost that crawls into bed and spoons with you?
People react in opposite ways. They freak out and flee, or they book rooms known to be haunted, like the Abigail Room at the Union Station Hotel in Nashville or Room 932 of Hotel Bethlehem in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
What would you do? Read these troubling tales of haunted hotels before you decide. If you dare.
She Never Made it to the Altar
Poor Emily, all dressed in her wedding gown in the bridal suite at The Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia, in the early 1900s when she learned her fiancé had been shot and killed. She refused to take off her gown for weeks and eventually died of a broken heart. Guests and staff at the inn report seeing a ghost with long hair in the halls in her wedding gown.
Mary Welch stayed there shortly after her husband had died. She got out of the shower one day and written in the steam on the mirror was “I love you,” with a heart shape. When she went to get her camera to take a photo, it disappeared.
That Stay Was Murder!
While they may not tout it in the hotel marketing materials, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered his first victim in room 507 of the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1987. He smuggled the body out in a suitcase.
One guest, knowledgeable about Jeffery Dahmer, stayed there. She woke up at 3 a.m. and saw her partner still asleep hanging off the side of the bed in an awkward position, much like the murdered man, looking like he was dead.
See related story: The Raynham Hall Ghost
The Messy Ghost
At Hotel Lafayette in Marietta, Ohio, guests have had suitcases overturned, shampoo bottles emptied on the floor and doors opening and closing by themselves. Apparently the former owner, S. Durward Hoag, is not happy about people staying here and haunts the third floor. A maid in a black dress has also been seen walking the hallways.
No Maid Service for Us
The luxury Skirvin Hotel opened in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1911, built by Texan oilman William Skirvin. Guests report seeing the ghost of a young maid, Effie, who reportedly had an affair with Skirvin and got pregnant. To avoid scandal, he locked her in a room on the 10th floor where she gave birth and leapt to her death, with her baby in her arms. Guests hear a baby crying and male guests claim to see the image of a naked female ghost in the shower, or hearing her voice propositioning them.
Hold The Phone
Cindy Walker, a director with Tauck, was developing a new tour for the travel company and stayed in Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim in Arizona. Her phone rang at 3:33 a.m. in her room #328 but no one was on the other line. Her colleague called her on her cell phone in the morning, mentioning he had tried the phone in her room first, but he couldn’t get through. She checked her phone and saw it was unplugged.
She told the front desk, and the clerk said, “It’s probably the ghost.” She went back to the hotel on a tour with a Tauck group and heard a guest complaining about a 3:30 a.m. phone call. In room #328.
Curtains that shift on their own and photos that go flying are just a few of the paranormal activities reported at the Historic Anchorage Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. The sightings date back to the 1920s and ghosts appear in dress from that period. The hotel keeps a ghost log at the front counter. You may choose to read it after you check out.
When Megan O’Malley stayed there she heard kids noisily playing in the hallway late one night. She mentioned it to the hotel clerk who said that’s a frequent comment from guests. But there are rarely any children in the hotel.
We’ll Sit This Game Out
What does it take to scare major league baseball players? Paranormal activity will do it. Players at The Phister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, have been so spooked by activity there that they have slept on the couch in the lobby, gone to sleep with a bat, or in a few instances, left the hotel to find another down the street.
They’ve seen windows and blinds opened, furniture moved and heard strange pounding in the night. One player said his iPod started playing on the other side of the room, more than once.
Are You Brave Enough for State Room B-340?
The famous Queen Mary began transporting guests across the ocean in 1936 and during WW II transported 800,000 soldiers to the frontlines. Now docked in Long Beach, California, The Queen Mary Museum & Hotel in Long Beach, California, has had guests report faint screams, flickering lights and shadowy figures. A lady in white has been seen dancing and young children haunt guests who dare to enter the swimming pool.
State room B-340 is the scene of the most activity, with a sink turning on and off and covers being yanked off guests. There were so many complaints, it was not rented for a while, but you can now book it and try to conjure spirits yourself with the Ouija board, tarot cards and crystal ball in the room. In the fall the ship becomes a haunted attraction.
See related story
Best Southern Hotels Where We Always Feel Welcome
Don’t Book Your Honeymoon in Room 525
The Driskell Hotel, built in 1886, is a landmark of Austin, Texas. Three ghosts are said to make their presence known here. The sounds of laughter and a ball bouncing are said to come from a little girl who was chasing a ball in 1887, fell down the stairs and died. Others report the smells of cigar smoke said to be coming from the ghost of Col. Jesse Driskill who build the hotel. And two brides are said to have killed themselves in the bathtub on their honeymoon in Room 525.
Ghost sightings are common at La Concha Hotel & Spa Key West in Key West, Florida, where guests have heard whimpering sounds, bursts of cold air and vanishing Chardonnay. (That happens to me, but ghosts can’t exactly be blamed.)
The hotel has also experienced some accidental deaths under mysterious circumstances. The scariest tale is of a waiter who was cleaning up after a New Year’s Eve party in the ‘80s. He backed into an open elevator shaft and fell to his death. Guests say they still hear his screams.
Ask for the Red Room
No list of haunted hotels would be complete without mentioning The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Opened in 1909, this historic hotel is famous as the inspiration for Stephen King’s book “The Shining” after he visited in 1974. It’s been called the Disneyland for ghosts. Just the music of the movie scared me so bad I had to run and hide when my husband was watching “The Shining.”
Guests report lights flickering on and off, doors slamming, shadowy figures and hearing children’s laughter.
One of the most haunted rooms is 217 where King and his wife stayed. It is said to be haunted by the head housekeeper who was injured by a storm as she was lighting a lantern in this room. Other areas of the hotel said to be haunted include the concert hall where the ghost Lucy communicates with ghost hunters with flashing lights, the fourth floor where guests hear furniture moving around above them, and in room 428 where a cowboy appears at the foot of the bed.
The Admiral Fell Inn in Baltimore, Maryland, tops some lists as one of the most haunted hotels in America. When a tropical storm hit in 2003, the hotel was evacuated but a general manager who was boarding up windows heard a party upstairs. A guest mysteriously died in room 413 and housekeepers have reported a chilling presence ever since.
Rosemary Ostmann said she stayed in the dog-friendly hotel one night. Her dog woke up in the middle of the night and started chasing something around the room. There was nothing there.
A Trickster Ghost Named Bob
A former engineer at The Wort Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming, ghost Bob is friendly yet mischievous. One of the most haunted places in the hotel is the maintenance shop where he worked. He rearranges the maintenance shop at night, leaving some doors open to show current staff what needs repairing. He has been known to visit guests during a tour of the property.
I Don’t Usually Stay in Haunted Hotels. But I Did Here.
I don’t make it a point to stay in haunted hotels. I got the poo scared out of me as a child when I saw the movie “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” with Don Knotts. I’m not one to sign up for scary movies or haunted houses.
The closest I came to a ghostly sighting was staying in the haunted bedroom of Julia Staab at La Posada de Santa Fe years ago. The story I heard was that Julia lived in the Victorian mansion that now belongs to La Posada. After having six children, she and her husband, Abraham, had a seventh that died and after years of trying to have another child she killed herself from grief in 1852. Employees have said they have seen a beautifully dressed woman standing near a fireplace, reposing in an armchair or other places in the hotel. A bartender said one night glasses began flying off shelves, a fireplace kept turning on and off and a server dropped trays, saying she felt like someone was pushing them from underneath.
I stayed in Julia’s bedroom and proposed a toast to her portrait, asking her to visit if she liked. She seemed like a nice enough ghost. Not like the creepy kind in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” But I had a quiet night.
Haunted Hotels Where the Founders Never Left
Some people think Graham Brown, founder of The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, never left. The elevator mysteriously stops at his 14th floor suite and guests have heard footsteps coming from it.
Thomas Taggert, the former owner of French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana, is said to operate the hotel elevator that moves mysteriously on its own. Staff members say they receive phone calls from empty hotel rooms.
Duck This One
The Peabody Hotel, a landmark in Memphis, Tennessee, and famous for its resident ducks, also has a ghost that likes to wander on the 11th floor where guests report whispering, strange noise and cold spots.
The Princess Ghost
Carol Stickney was married to the owner of the Mount Washington Hotel, now the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. She visited every year, even after her husband died. She went on the marry a French prince and hosted lavish parties at the hotel. After she died in 1936, employees report seeing a ghost drifting down the stairs or turning the lights in the tower on and off.
She likes the visit a guest room on the third floor where her maple bed is. Guests say they have woken up and seen a woman sitting at the end of the bed brushing her hair.
The Never-Ending Fraternity Party
A group of fraternity brothers died in an accident in Hanover Inn Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1934, and are said to haunt the hotel. Some of them have been spotted walking down the hallways and some Dartmouth students have reported seeing a room that doesn’t exist filled with the men and their dates partying. As far as haunted hotels go, this sounds like a pretty realistic scenario.
The Outlaw Guest
Outlaw Jesse James stayed at Talbott Tavern B&B in Bardstown, Kentucky, and has been seen by guests at the inn that opened in 1779. Guests also report lights flickering, keys and glasses being moved, and a pale lady roaming the halls in a 17th-century white dress.
Several ghosts have been reported at the Boone Tavern Hotel of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and ghost hunters have confirmed paranormal activity. They report seeing a young boy, Timmy, who likes to hang out in room 312. But he’s not alone. A doctor who tried to save him is said to be looking out for him.
It’s Cold in Here
The Calumet Inn in Pipestone, Minnesota, is haunted by the ghost of a guest who died in a fire on Valentine’s Day in 1944. Children’s voices have been heard in a former Indian boarding school building and guests report flickering lights, footsteps and sudden drops in temperature.
How Much Do You Want That Discount?
We’re always up for a good discount. But this one comes with a catch. Take one of the private ghost tours of The Historic Naples Hotel in the Finger Lakes region of New York and you’ll see the most active rooms and watch footage of paranormal activity and participate in an attempt to communicate with any of the six ghosts said to haunt the hotel. They move pictures, lock doors and turn lights on. If you decide to stay the night, you get 20% off.
A Lady in Pink
The ghost who haunts the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, prefers the color pink earning her the nickname Pink Lady. The story was that a young woman in pink fell to her death in the atrium in the 1920s. She has been seen around the hotel but most often in room 545. A painted and an engineer working on the room in the early ’60s independently reported cold chills when working on that room. A guest reported that her 2-year-old son asked her, “Who is that lady?” Another guest reported her feet being tickled.
A Rocking Good Time
President John F. Kennedy stayed on the third floor of Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park in California in 1962. A rocking chair was placed in the room to help with his chronic back pain. After he died, housekeepers would report seeing a rocking chair slowly rocking in that room, although it had been taken out after his visit.
The Ghostly Postcard
Built in 1796, Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, is said to be one of America’s most haunted homes. It started in 1922 with a photo the owner took of the property for the insurance company. An image showed up of what seemed to be a young slave girl standing between the two buildings. It’s referred to as the Chloe Postcard.
And a couple had a photo taken of themselves and in the window in the back is the reflection of a young girl. It’s been carefully examined but no evidence of doctoring could be found.
Things That Go Rumble in the Night
The housekeeping staff at the Dunbar House, a former mansion turned luxury inn in Murphys, California, leave the doors of unoccupied rooms open to signal they are ready. In the mornings they sometimes find these doors closed and latched. They also see books pushed off tables, photos skewed and dining rooms chairs that have been moved.
The marketing director, Christopher Buttner, reports that when you are along in the house, “You will feel a trembling, like a shudder, through the floorboards, up through the furniture you’re sitting on and through your body. It’s more rapid of a frequency comparable to a truck rumbling down the road, but the house is set back far enough that you NEVER feel vehicle vibration. The vibration always starts low and then increases to a more rapid rate and intensity before cutting off completely.”
The Ultimate Celebrity After Party
It was the first story I saw about a celebrity haunted hotel. Is the famous Roosevelt Hotel haunted? Guests at the The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles have reported sightings of Marilyn Monroe, who is said to still be in residence in suite 1200. Montgomery Clift brushed up against people in room 928 and has been heard playing the trumpet.
Rub the Wrong Way
Massage oils move around, doors open on their own and the hydrotherapy tub lights flicker at the spa at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans in the French Quarter. Three ghosts have been spotted at the Ritz-Carlton, including an older gentleman reading in the library on the club level and two young girls who run up and down the hallways.
Of all of America’s Haunted Hotels is This the Scariest?
The paranormal activity of eight spirits at the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has drawn film and TV crews from 15 productions to air episodes on it. It has embraced its reputation as America’s most haunted hotel.
Built as a luxury resort hotel in 1886, it became a cancer clinic in 1937 run by Norman Baker who claimed to have a cure. It reopened as a hotel in 1997 and now guests can take a tour that ends in the former morgue. They report seeing orbs flying around, smelling tobacco, seeing blurred figures and EMF (electromagnetic field) ghost meters going crazy.
Here are just a few other things guests have spotted: children under the morgue’s autopsy table, a patient/hospital assistant in and around room 419, wheels squeaking in the third-floor hallway and a nurse pushing a corpse on a gurney. An EMF ghost meter has recorded conversations with former patients.
Here is one of many first-hand accounts of the most haunted hotel in America.
Written to a tour guide: “While sitting and waiting while you spoke about what will happen on the tour, my legs, from mid-thigh down to my toes suddenly went freezing cold. I looked around for the air-conditioning and noticed it was not blowing on me and the rest of my body was normal. I then looked at my friend and she asked if I felt like the floor was shaking and I told her that the whole hotel feels like it’s shaking. It felt kind of like being on a ship on water. She then felt something brush against her leg and looked to see what it was but nothing was there.”
Excuse Me, Is This Stool Taken?
Built in the 1740s, Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, then known as The Lumberville Hotel, served as a haven for river travelers, traders and sportsmen. The hotel was first owned by a man that went by Hans. In the early 1800s, a group of immigrant workers arrived in Solebury to build the Erie Canal. Hans got into a dispute with one of the workers and was stabbed to death. The barstool he sat on when murdered is still in the Canal Tavern today. Some have noted a large, burly man lurking near the crime scene.
Why It’s Called America’s Most Haunted City
With a reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the United States, Savannah, Georgia, has its share of haunted hotels. Kim Pezza reports several experiences there, including at River Street Inn. “On one trip, I shared a room with my parents. I woke up about 6:30 a.m. and there was daylight in the room, but still some shadows. I sat up and looked over at who I thought was my dad sitting on the end of their bed. He hadn’t been feeling well, and this person was sitting slumped over, back to me, just like he didn’t feel well. He was in shadow, but a full male figure sitting on the bed. I couldn’t see the chair or lamp on the other side of the room. Then, I happened to take a quick glance to the right, and my dad was sound asleep on his pillow. My mom was asleep as well. I looked back and the sick man on the bed was gone. I could see the lamp and the chair.
Another night, I could also hear pulleys, like when they would be lifting the cotton bales when it was a cotton warehouse. It sounded like it was right outside the door. My mom heard what sounded like a tricycle running down the hall. And because I tend to be a sensitive, I could feel a few times that “someone ” was in the elevator with me. So I’d talk to them.”
Another reported haunted hotel in Savannah is Marshall House, one of the oldest in Savannah. It was built as a hotel in 1851, used as hospital during the Civil Way, and reopened in 1999 as a luxury hotel. Guests and staff report children’s footsteps in the hallways, while one guest reported feeling a hand pressed on their forehead. Another guest said he was woken up several times by the feeling of someone tickling his feet, and the last time he looked up to see a little girl standing in the room.
Another Lady in White
It seems to be the most popular dress color for women in haunted hotels, followed by blue. This white-wearing ghosts is an opera singer named Isabella who strolls in the 19th-century Belhurst Castle in Geneva, New York. The castle has also been the scene of embezzlement, an owner who died of blood poisoning, one who fell off the roof during construction and another who went insane putting it together.
Shades of Anna Karenina
The ghost of Abigail is said to haunt Union Station Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, which served as a railway station until the 1970s. During WW II she said goodbye to her soldier as he shipped off to France. She went back to the same spot to greet him on his return but learned he had been killed so she threw herself in front of a train.
The most haunted hotel room is 711, the Abigail Room, her haunted suite, but you won’t find it on the website as it’s a secret room. You have to know to ask for it. Guests report lights going on and off, noises from above this top-floor room and images showing up in photos.
Disbelieving Hotel Clerk
Ruta Fox stayed at The Raleigh in South Beach, Miami, before it was renovated. She felt it was haunted and told the desk clerk that her TV had come on in the middle of the night. He laughed and said, “Oh, it must be an electrical problem.”
Remember the Emily Morgan
The Emily Morgan Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, is close to the historic landmark, The Alamo. It’s where 600 men died during the Battle of the Alamo and was once a Medical Arts building with a morgue and crematorium. Some claim it’s one of the most haunted hotels in the world. Guests report phone calls in the middle of the night with no one on the other line, a bathtub mysteriously filled with water and the noises of hospital carts outside their doors. Housekeepers report that while cleaning a bathroom they come out to find the bed pillows tossed on the floor. Video cameras have caught orbs floating around the hotel.
My Daughter Spoke a Foreign Language in Her Sleep
As publisher of Supernatural Travel and host of the Supernatural Travel Tales podcast, Ciaran Blumenfeld hears a lot of creepy tales. But one of her favorites involves her daughter when they stayed in a haunted Airbnb in Krakow, Poland. “My daughter began chanting the mourner’s kaddish in her sleep, in Hebrew with a heavy Yiddish accent. Spoiler alert, she doesn’t speak Hebrew or know this prayer.” Yeah, I know all the other places are haunted hotels in the USA and this one is an outlier. But it was too good not to include!
She Lost Her Head and Can’t Get Over It
She was beheaded in the bathtub in the 1920s by a jealous lover and just can’t get over it. Annalisa Netherly has been making her presence known in room 311 of The Read House in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for years.
Guests have experienced flickering lights, unexplained noises and shadowy figures. Janice McDonald of Atlanta reported, “My niece fled the room with her three kids after the bathroom door kept opening and shutting and then a huge mirror toppled over almost hitting them.”
Room 311 has been renovated to Annalisa’s time period with antique furnishings, a pull chain toilet and AM radio and is open for tours daily from 12-2. During the month of October, it’s available for overnight stays for five nights only. Would you dare?
There May Be No Room at the Inn
Things may get a bit crowded at the six-room Waldo Emerson Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, where innkeeper Hana Pevny tells me five ghosts are in residence in the 266-year-old inn. Here’s what Hana shared.
- Charlene is 6-year-old girl who died of whopping cough. She really loves chocolate and has been known to tickle guests feet while they sleep.
- Sarah, who died in childbirth after six children, was the daughter of the original builder of the house, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s great uncle, who built it in 1753. She has been known to occasionally add extra salt to my cooking.
- Eric, who was a ship worker at the shipyard, stays relatively low key but I saw him recently early in the morning from the kitchen window checking out the new landscaping.
- Thomas is an African American, who most likely came while the house was a safe house during the Underground Railroad. He later worked in the kitchen when it was located down in the basement and he’s also relatively low key.
- Henry Kingsbury was the fourth owner of the house who bought it in 1839 for $400. He has been known to sit on the edge of the bed and admire the female guests. He enjoys a pipe and a shot of rum in the morning. I can attest to noticing the level of rum missing from our bar on a routine basis.
I’ve been told by a medium in Nashville that four of them are read to pass on. However, Henry is very happy with the renovations I’ve done and doesn’t plan on passing over to the other side.”
An Extra Guest at The Wedding
Tanya, the ghost of a little girl who died in a fire on the property, haunts the Grand Island Holiday Inn, now known as Radisson Hotel, Niagara Falls in Grand Island, New York. Staff and guests have reported a little girl with blond hair and a white nightgown standing in their rooms, playing in a drained pool that was being remodeled and bouncing on the bed and crying in the room above them. Except that floor was being remodeled and no one was staying there.
The elevator stops on floors where no one presses a button, an unoccupied room was chained from the inside and when a couple got married there, a ghostly image appeared between them in one of their photos.
Always Loved the Smell of Lavender, Even in Haunted Hotels
A famous ghost at The Lumberville Hotel in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, is “The Woman in White.” She has been seen wandering the halls of the hotel and sitting in a guest room with a pearl-handled revolver in her lap. According to legend, she found her husband and his mistress in one of the guest rooms. Distraught and angry, she killed them, then turned the gun on herself. Guests report that her presence is precipitated by the smell of lavender.
Guest Christina Cordaro wrote a post about her stay at The Logan Inn, established in 1772 in New Hope, Pennsylvania. “My husband, Justin, and I had the privilege of meeting with the General Manager, Maggie, to receive a tour of the Inn. As soon as we stepped into the building, we noticed a large portrait of a man and a woman. Later we learned they are Carl and Emily Lutz – owners of the inn in 1904. Emily died peacefully in guestroom #6. Throughout the years, guests have witnessed shadow figures on the bed in that room.
Justin and I got to see the guestroom, and as soon as we walked in, the lights started flickering when Maggie was talking about Emily and her photograph on the wall. I can’t believe what we witnessed! Equally as spooky, guests have also witnessed orbs or even a face when they snap a picture of the large portrait painting of Carl and Emily.”
The Lady in Blue
Ethel Bounell owned the historic The Buxton Inn in Granville, Ohio, from 1934 to 1961, and saw no reason to leave or change the color of her favorite dress after she died. She is said to haunt the hotel wearing this signature color of blue. And she’s one of the few ghosts who keeps a pet in the afterlife. Guests have seen a ghostly cat wandering the halls and jumping on guests’ beds.
The Lady in Green
Cincinnati, Ohio, has its own colorfully dressed owner, where the Lady in Green is said to haunt the halls of the Hilton Netherland Plaza. Her husband was a laborer and was killed during the construction of the hotel in the late 1920s and his body was never found. Her reflection is often seen in the Hall of Mirrors.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s a Ghost?
James Cave, blogger in chief of Portugalist.com, had a ghostly encounter in Scotland. “Years ago I walked the West Highland Way in Scotland and had the chance to stay at The Drovers Inn, a hotel rumored to be haunted.
As the legend goes, in the year 1792, a family who had been evicted from their home was traveling through Scotland when they were caught in a storm. They tried to reach The Drovers Inn but took a wrong turn, which led to them freezing to death in the storm. Since then, many people have reported seeing a ghostly family in the woods nearby and in The Drovers Inn itself.
After a long day of walking I got tired so I left the bar where I’d spent the evening and went upstairs to the bedroom. As I lay on the bed reading, I noticed a grey shape start to form at the end of the bed.
I was rooted to the bed, afraid to move, and just kept staring at it for at least 10 minutes. It wasn’t till I caught a whiff of smoke that I realized the grey shape wasn’t caused by something from the other side but a leaking chimney flue instead – not unusual for such an old hotel.
I spoke to reception and was able to change rooms and get an uneventful night of sleep. I didn’t think anything else of it until I was walking through the woods the next day and a thought occurred to me: I’d been sitting in the bar all evening and couldn’t remember the fire being lit.”
The Mistress Who Wouldn’t Leave
King Mansion sits on a hill in Tarrytown, New York, and is part of the Tarrytown House Estate. Thomas M. King, a railroad magnate, purchased it around 1900. Years later Thomas King’s son Frederick married Sybil Harris and they lived in the King House until Sybil died in 1955. It is believed that the former lady of the mansion continues to walk the halls of the second floor of the King Mansion, appearing as an apparition in white.
Guests Who Never Checked Out
Famous guests from Charles Dickens to Harriet Beecher Stowe have stayed at The Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio, and the 17 suites are all named after the inn’s famous guests. But some guests stay on uninvited. The ghost of a young girl, Sarah Stubbs, who lived here in the 1800s roams the floors. Some people report seeing an Ohio Supreme Court Justice named Charles R Sherman who died in the hotel in 1829.
Oh Haunted Inn of Bethlehem
About an hour north of Philadelphia, historic Hotel Bethlehem in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, has welcomed guests that include Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy and Dalai Lama. But if it’s ghosts you want to see in one of Pennsylvania’s haunted hotels, ask for room 932.
Guests have seen flashes in the mirror, papers flying off a table and in one instance, a guest looked into the bathroom and saw an entirely different bathroom. Another reported seeing a man standing in the room in his boxers and asked the guest, “What are you doing in my bed?”
A Little Night Music
When you have a wife and nine kids, you need a big house. General Frances Preston built a large brick home in 1832 in Abingdon, Virginia, and lived there with his family until 1858 when he sold it to founders of the Martha Washington College. During the Civil War it served as a hospital, then served as a school again until 1932. It became The Martha Washington Inn & Spa, welcoming guests like Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Eleanor Roosevelt.
One ghost who haunts the inn is Beth, who cared for soldiers during the Civil War. She fell in love with one, playing violin music for him. He died and some people report hearing her violin at night or seeing her in room 217 where she nursed her beloved.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
If you hear a little girl running down a hallway in the Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia, she may not really be a guest. The ghosts of Emily Mae and her daughter, Emma, are said to haunt the hotel where Emily Mae was a housekeeper in the early 1900s. After a fight with her lover on the third floor, he shoved her into an elevator shaft, but it was empty and Emily Mae and Emma fell to their deaths.
Guests say they have seen the reflection of a woman in a long black dress in the mirror of that hallway, and lights and radios turn on and off mysteriously while pots fly off tables.
The third floor seems to be where most activity is found. Ruth Sykes was on a ghost tour that stopped at the hotel and was being filmed for a news segment about Americus’ haunted history. She walked up to the service elevator, which began vibrating, moving on its own.
Some of the most interesting stories of haunted hotels come from people who own them. In 2002, just before Elisse and Dan Clark bought a three-story brick building built in 1922 and in an advance state of disrepair, a psychic told them, “The house you are about to buy – you’re going to get it. And there is a female spirit in the building, a woman who died in the building. She wasn’t a happy person, but she means no harm.”
They turned that building in Landgraff, West Virginia, into the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre. During the renovation, odd things occurred, which Dan began calling Molly Moments. Here are just a few of them from Elisse.
- On numerous occasions, after we’d turned off all the lights to go upstairs to sleep, we’d find them all on in the morning.
- One morning at 7 a.m., we were both awakened by a loud bonking noise that sounded like 2x4s being banged together; I was angry because I thought Dan had given one of our helpers the keys, and he insisted he hadn’t. We ran around the building and found no one; the Inn was locked up tighter than a drum!
- One night we heard crystal shattering, apparently at the end of the hall on the 3rd floor. We looked at each other, and then ran through the building again, and found nothing amiss.
- One night I was at the computer (Dan was asleep) and heard pounding on the front door. It sounded like someone was hitting the door with a battering ram! One heavy bang, and then bang-bang-bang. I thought someone was trying to break down the door. I woke Dan up and we both ran downstairs, only to find nothing, except that every light on the 2nd floor was on, and one painting that had been on the wall was now lying flat on the floor, face down. I re-hung the painting and we turned off all the lights and went back to bed. The next day the same painting was down again but leaning against the wall. I looked at the ceiling and said “Okay, Molly! I know you don’t like that painting! Why??? What am I supposed to do?” No answer! We re-hung the painting and it’s been there ever since.
- One night my husband was so spooked by the feeling that someone besides us was in the building (and he is US Army Retired, three tours in Vietnam, etc., and spooks at NOTHING!), that he spent the entire night sitting in a chair in the middle of our then-living room up on the 3rd floor.
It got to the point where lights would go on or off or things would go bang, and I’d simply look up at the ceiling and exclaim, “Molly, if you want me to understand what you want, write it on the bathroom mirror with my lipstick!” (I’m still waiting.)
- In 2003 we had three Irish roofers come from NYC to re-do our roof, and they stayed at the Inn for almost a week. We told them NOTHING about Mollyor anything we’d experienced. One evening, at dinner, one of the men told us that although he had locked his room at night, he’d found it unlocked in the morning. So the next night he made certain that he had locked it, only to find it again unlocked in the morning. And then he told us that while he was seated at the dresser with his back to his room’s door, the door had opened and a “female spirit” had stood in the doorway, and he had said (without turning around), “We’re just here to do the roof,” at which point he said that “she” left. As our jaws hit the floor he told us that all this was okay, because he was used to it; as he put it, “this is normal in Ireland.”
The activity didn’t stop after the 14-room inn opened in May 2003. Here are a few more Molly Moments. One of our inn-sitters swore that “Molly” repeatedly trapped his two little dogs in various bedrooms throughout the Inn the month we were away. He told us that although he put a doggie fence at the bottom of the stairs to keep the dogs from going upstairs, he would later hear them yapping upstairs and find them a guest room with the door shut!”
I save the best for last. Of all the stories of haunted hotels I’ve encountered, this is the scariest story of all. What would you have done?
Now You’ve Read About a Lot of Haunted Hotels. But This is the Scariest.
As a travel writer, Jason Frye has stayed in hundreds of hotels around the world. He didn’t believe in ghosts or ghosts stories he heard on his travels. Until one crawled into bed and spooned with him.
He spent three nights at Loyd Hall Plantation in Cheneyville, Louisiana, said to be haunted by the owner Mr. Loyd who was a double spy, got caught by the Union, was tarred, feathered and hanged in his front yard. Other reported ghosts are a cook slave, a Union soldier who was shot in the attic and Loyd’s daughter who was left at the altar and leapt to her death from the attic.
While on a tour of the home with other journalists, Jason jokingly asked if he could stay in Mr. Loyd’s bedroom. They agreed. As he was going to bed the first night at 11 p.m. he heard the fireplace tools in the other room fall over.
“I think, okay, old house. They probably just fell over and the vibration from one tipped the other over,” Jason said. “At 3 a.m. I learned how wrong I was. A crash pulled me from sleep and the fireplace tools in my bedroom have hit the ground, scattering from the force. As I turn on the lights and see the fireplace tools in my room, the tools in the front room are hurled to the ground. The next day the caretaker of the place tells us that was likely Mr. Loyd, causing some mischief for an unbeliever.”
The next night he wakes up again around 3 a.m. when he hears a voice. “I assumed it was the writer staying across the hall having a late-night argument, talking and muttering and pacing on the balcony we shared. Nope. The noise was from my front room. “Mutter, mutter, grumble, mutter,” each word accentuated by a heavy footstep. From one side of the room to the other. I listened for a minute, then turned on the light and it instantly stopped. I turned on my bedroom lights, investigated the front room, found nothing and went back to bed. It took a while but I fell back to sleep. With the lights on.”
He told the story at breakfast and the caretaker told him it was probably the soldier. “In the middle of the story there’s a crack and a crash from the room behind us. A finial knob has been broken off a china hutch and hurled across the room. From the sound it made and the marks we saw on the floor and wall, there was no way it just fell and bounced.”
That night he once again woke up in the middle of the night when he heard a woman in his room. “She laughed, a playful, tittering little laugh. And then I heard footsteps and my bed creaked and something had jumped in behind me. You know how you roll toward whoever is heavier when they get into a cheap mattress with you? Well, I heard the laugh, the footsteps and the creak of the cheap mattress, then I ROLLED INTO SOMETHING ICE COLD. Something – the boy crazy daughter – was spooning me.
I was freezing. Goosebumps all over, hair standing up, absolutely frigid. I tried to turn my head and I couldn’t. I tried to talk and no sound came out. I tried to roll over and was pinned there.
Then I felt a hand run along my shoulder, arm, hip and leg, and the bed creaked, I rolled back to my original spot, the footsteps ran away and I turned on the light to find no one, absolutely no one except me, in the room. I turned on every light. I turned on both TVs. I unlocked my door. I got fully dressed – including shoes – and had my bag packed and beside the door, then sat on my bed with my back to the headboard and watched two movies on my laptop until it was time to go.
Before that I was skeptical about ghosts, but now you tell me you got a ghost or were haunted and I’m all in. Say no more, I believe you.”
Here are a few things that several haunted hotels seem to have in common:
• Children noisily playing in hallways
• Lights flickering on and off
• Voices caught on ghost meters
• Objects moved or being thrown around
• Typically haunt historic hotels.
I found it interesting that ghosts in haunted hotels are usually in a period dress from around the 1890s to the 1920s. I’ve yet to hear of a ghost wearing full shirtdresses and pearls from the ’50s or bellbottoms from the ’70s. Many of the women wear long flowing gowns, which makes sense. If you’re wandering around for eternity, you want to be comfortable.
Do you have any stories of haunted hotels? Leave it in the comments below!
– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief