Under most circumstances, you’d be pretty freaked out to discover a strange presence in your home or hotel room—especially if there’s no earthly explanation as to how or why it’s there. But that kind of spooky experience is part of the draw at these haunted hotels, houses, and inns across the country, where certain residents and guests have long overstayed their welcome…as in, they’re dead. They’re still there because they never left.
From the creepy hotel that inspired Stephen King’sThe Shining to a former celeb haunt where guests can still spy long-deceased screen sirens, these properties will give you the heebie-jeebies—even if you don’t spend the night.
Most Haunted Hotels, Houses, and Lodges in America
1. Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, Colorado
The Stanley Hotel first opened its doors in 1909, but it was in 1974 that the property earned its reputation as one of the most haunted in America. That’s because Stephen King spent one night (the night before Halloween, in fact) in room 217, where he was so creeped out he was inspired to write his famous book The Shining. The room is said to be haunted by Elizabeth Wilson, who was once the hotel’s head housekeeper (for what it’s worth, she didn’t die in the room), but apparitions have been spotted all over the grounds. The Stanley even has its own paranormal investigator, who leads 75-minute Night Spirit Tours.
2. LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans, LA
In a city full of spooky cemeteries and voodoo magic, the LaLaurie House stands out (not least of all because it was featured on American Horror Story: Coven). Socialite and serial killer Madame Delphine LaLaurie called this Royal Street mansion home in the 1830s, and rumor has it she built a torture chamber for slaves in the basement. The space—and the horrific evidence of her experiments—was only discovered after a fire on the property. Today, people report hearing crying, moaning, and shouting—some have even seen apparitions in the upstairs windows.
3. Hawthorne Hotel – Salem, Massachusetts
Of course Salem, with its witchy past, has no shortage of hauntings. At the Hawthorne Hotel, which opened in 1925 (on the grounds once owned by Bridget Bishop, the first woman in Salem executed as a witch), guests have reported everything from unexplained noises and flickering lights to moving furniture and ghostly appearances. In the 1970s, Bewitched even filmed an episode here. Room 325 is rumored to be the most haunted, while guests have spotted a spectral woman roaming the sixth floor and in Room 612.
4. Brookdale Lodge – Santa Cruz, California
Hollywood elite like Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, and Rita Hayworth once stayed at the Brookdale Lodge, which was converted into a hotel in 1900. Today’s creepy vibes can be attributed to the death of the original lodge owner’s niece; she drowned in the creek that now runs through the dining room. Guests have claimed to spot her ghost wandering the property, but it could also be another young girl—a 13-year-old who drowned in the property’s pool in 1972. Rooms 2209, 1209, and 5 are also said to be haunted, and guests have reported hearing music, seeing moving furniture, and feeling spooky presences around the lodge.
5. House of Death – New York, New York
How’s that for a name? This brownstone at 10th Street and Fifth Avenue (a single home when it was built in the 1830s, now split into 10 apartments), is a hotbed of paranormal activity, with as many as 22 ghostly residents. People claim to have spotted Mark Twain, who lived here in 1900, as well as a six-year-old girl who was beat to death by her father, criminal prosecutor Joel Steinberg, in 1987. There’s even a ghostly cat, if you believe residents. To really creep yourself out, read a copy of actress Jan Bryant Bartell’s book, Spindrift: Spray from a Psychic Sea—it documents her experiences living at this address.
6. Congress Plaza Hotel – Chicago, Illinois
The Congress Plaza Hotel—built in 1893 in anticipation of the World Fair—was ground zero for the campaigns of Presidents Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but it’s the less savory guests that stuck around. The hotel is rumored to host the ghost of crime boss Al Capone (he’s been sighted in the lobby, where he held business meetings) and Peg-Leg Johnny (an anonymous homeless man who was murdered in the alley behind the hotel before it was built). And while management doesn’t overtly acknowledge the paranormal whispers, it does host a haunted Halloween ball each October.
7. Myrtles Plantation – St. Francisville, Louisiana
Built in 1796 by General David Bradford, Myrtles Plantation looks like an idyllic Southern getaway. But behind all of its antebellum glory is a creepier past—a slave named Chloe was allegedly hanged here for poisoning former owner Judge Clark Woodruff’s daughters, and she’s shown up in photos taken of the property. Additional apparitions have also been photographed on site, and the current owner claims nine spectres call the bed-and-breakfast home. Claims of ghostly footsteps on the stairs, noises of children playing, and a haunting chord coming from the grand piano have persisted over the years.
8. Villisca Axe Murder House – Villisca, Iowa
You’ve probably heard of the Amityville Horror House, but have you heard of the Villisca Axe Murder House? Six members of the Moore family and two houseguests were murdered with an axe in their beds here in 1912, but the crime still remains unsolved. The house has barely been touched in the 100-plus years since, and it’s now a tourist attraction (yes, you can even stay overnight). Paranormal investigators claim to have audio, video, and photo proof of supernatural activity, and tours have been privy to hearing the children’s voices and seeing falling lamps, moving ladders, and flying objects.
9. 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The 130-year-old Crescent Hotel bills itself as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel,” and for good reason. Once a hospital, it became known as the kind of medical facility (you can still visit the morgue) where patients rarely left alive, thanks to doctor Norman Baker (he was a total quack). Spirits including a stonemason who fell to his death while building the hotel, a cancer patient in search of her room key, a lady in Victorian lingerie, Morris the cat, and even Norman Baker himself are said to still wander the Ozarks resort. Eyewitness accounts also mention drained camera batteries, mysterious voices, and unexplained drops in temperature. It’s been the subject of more than a dozen TV shows, and upon being surveyed with a thermal imaging camera, The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) team from Ghost Hunters found a full-bodied apparition.
10. Concord’s Colonial Inn – Concord, Massachusetts
As one of the oldest hotels in America, of course Concord’s Colonial Inn comes with a few ghost stories. In 1716, when the hotel opened, what’s now the Liberty Room was actually a Revolutionary War-era hospital. The operating room was in Room 24 (where, not surprisingly, soldiers died during surgery) and Room 27 was a morgue. Guests have claimed to see grayish figures in the rooms, hear whispers from the closets, and witness lights turning on and off and doors slamming on their own. The spirits of an older woman and gentleman in a top hat supposedly hang out in the sitting room, while a young girl in a bonnet lurks near the front desk.
11. Battery Carriage House – Charleston, South Carolina
While the current owners of the charming Battery Carriage House, which dates back to 1843, haven’t seen or felt any spirits themselves, there are at least eight documented sightings on the property. The inn has posted eyewitness accounts from guests and employees of a ghostly congregation that meets in Room 3, a headless (!) torso that lurks in Room 8, and a gentlemanly presence in Room 10—not to mention, loud noises, moving shutters and furniture, and spooky apparitions in the mirrors that have no earthly explanation.
12. Emily Morgan Hotel – San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo City certainly has plenty of spirits with unfinished business, but it seems the majority of them congregate at the Emily Morgan Hotel. This neo-Gothic San Antonio property was a super advanced medical facility back in the 1920s—today, the 7th, 12th and 14th floors, which housed the psychiatric, hospital, and surgery wings, as well as the crematorium, are particular hotspots for paranormal activity. Guests tend to complain about TVs and lights turning off and on, phones ringing in the wee hours, and frequent sightings of a mysterious woman in white. Another creepy fact: The lobby was once the morgue.
13. The Roosevelt Hotel – Los Angeles, CA
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which opened in 1927, was the spot for LA’s elite. In fact, Marilyn Monroe liked the property where she started her modeling career so much, it’s rumored that you can still catch her hanging out in Room 1200. Another actor, Montgomery Clift, has been seen leering at maids in Room 928—that’s where he stayed while filming From Here to Eternity. And in the Blossom Room, the site of the first two Academy Awards shows, a spectre in a tuxedo emits a cold spot while a ghostly man in a white suit plays the piano until he’s noticed.
14. RMS Queen Mary – Long Beach, California
The RMS Queen Mary has been a floating hotel since 1967, but in its past life as a luxury ocean line (and briefly a World War II war ship), it played witness to some frequent moments. Children drowned in the pool, a sailor was crushed to death by a door in the engine room, and there was at least one murder on board. You can hear all about those occurrences (and more) during the paranormal tours, but if you’re brave enough, you can also book a stay in Stateroom B340, where there have been tons of paranormal encounters since the ship’s final ocean voyage (think: lights and faucets turning on and off, bed covers being yanked off, and spooky sightings).
15. Omni Mount Washington Resort – Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
When the Omni Mount Washington was constructed in 1902, the number of steps to the second floor were varied to confuse ghosts (it’s an Italian superstition, just go with it). But one ghost outsmarted the system: Caroline Foster, the widow of railroad tycoon Joseph Stickney, who built the resort. Staff nicknamed her “the princess,” and Stickney even built a private dining room for her that’s now known as the Princess Room. She’s regularly spotted in the hotel’s halls, as well as in her old room 314, where she lingers on the bed. Guests have also reported hearing knocks on the door and having items disappear and reappear sporadically.
16. Algonquin Hotel – New York, New York
A luxury hideaway from midtown Manhattan’s hustle and bustle, this famed hotel will impress you with handsome rooms and the cocktail lounge The Blue Bar, a watering hole that dates back to the end of Prohibition in 1933. At the hotel’s literati hub, The Round Table Restaurant, the daily power lunch setting for the Algonquin Round Table gathering of theater stars, artists, and authors following World War I, you can still catch a glimpse of these noteworthy members in the lobby and dining area.
17. Hotel Alex Johnson – Rapid City, South Dakota
Ghost Hunters may have covered this hotel, established in 1928 in South Dakota’s Black Hills, but it’s hard to cram all the paranormal activity into a TV episode. That’s why the front desk staff maintains a “ghost journal” so guests can share their experiences; they also offer ghost tours upon request. Water spontaneously turning on, flickering lights, scary noises—you name it, they’ve seen it. But the most popular tale here is that of the Lady in White. In the 1970s, it’s alleged that a young bride in room 812 committed suicide by throwing herself out the window. Some claimed foul play was involved, especially considering she was in line for a big inheritance, but no murderer was ever tried. Sweet dreams.
18. The Davenport Hotel – Spokane, Washington
Hotel staffers and guests alike have claimed to witness a female ghost donning 1920s garb weave her way through the mezzanine above the property’s grand lobby. Who’s the mysterious lady? It’s alleged to be Ellen McNamara, a New York guest who plummeted to her death through a skylight by her third floor doorway. On the friendlier-side, the hotel’s namesake and original owner, Lois Davenport, occasionally swings by in phantom form to say hello.
19. Burn Brae Mansion – Glen Spey, New York
This themed bed-and-breakfast in Sullivan County’s sweeping Catskill Mountains is home to a variety of hair-raising happenings, like the strange shouts of children’s voices, balls bouncing, apparitions of various sorts, and the sound of an organ, even though there’s no organ in the sprawling Victorian estate. More recently, an elderly couple in their 90s passed away in the home, and visitors claim they can still spot their wraiths from the front yard playing chess by the big window; some have heard his classical music and smelled her baking.
20. The Carolina Inn – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Turn a corner and you may see a heavy-set man looming in the hallways, then vanish into thin air. Or, you may be sitting in your room as this fella rattles your door knobs. Paranormal investigators even recorded the faint sound of piano notes at this historic property—where no piano was being played. Tuck into a bourbon from the hotel’s Crossroads restaurant’s extensive collection as you chat with the barkeep about the 20 “ghosts in residence” that may linger here long after your nightcap.
21. Hotel Blackhawk – Davenport, Iowa
Perched on the legendary Mississippi River, this fabled hotel is where movie star Cary Grant suffered a fatal stroke on the 8th floor, dying at a local hospital. Guests report catching the Hollywood legend roaming the grounds, and some say they’ve also seen a woman in a vintage-style evening gown creeping through the halls, too.
22. Omni Bedford Springs Resort – Bedford, Pennsylvania
Erected in the 1800s, as spine-tingling lore has it, ghosts of soldiers and small children have been known to appear in travelers’ photographs here, and the hotel staff give accounts of a spirit who clammers loudly on a keyboard in the reservation office.
23. Hotel Parq Central – Alburquerque, New Mexico
One reservation in a former hospital and psychiatric facility, coming right up. Originally built in the 1920s, this now-boutique hotel once housed patients who said the space was haunted with spectres that tugged at their bed sheets at night. While a guest, be sure to check out the AlbuCreepy Downtown Ghost Walk tour, led by seasoned paranormal investigators.
24. La Posada de Sante Fe – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Once you’ve whet your appetite with the Ghostwalkers historic walking tour, check into your adobe “casita” cottage and soak up the unearthly aura in the one-time home of Julia and Abraham Staab, built in 1882. Abraham and Julia were known for hosting the upper echelons of society, but rumor has it that Julia adored her digs so much, she still greets guests with her presence. For those so inclined, you can also book the Julia Staab American Ghost Package that comes with accommodations for two nights, welcome drinks, and a copy of the book American Ghost, A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus, Julia Staab’s great-great-granddaughter.
25. Rosario Resort – Orcas Island, Washington
The idyllic San Juan Islands are also home to some seriously eerie activity. Here, the spirit of Alice Goodfellow Rheem, or “The Lady in Red”, is believed to occupy the Moran Mansion of the resort. She’s the eccentric wife of the mansion’s second owner, Donald Rheem. (The mansion no longer has guest rooms, but rather a museum preserving the rooms as they’d look at the turn of the 20th century, plus spa treatment rooms.) Paranormal film crews have captured floating orbs on night vision cameras, and audio has recorded a crying baby and a party downstairs when the mansion was empty.
26. Historic Hotel Bethlehem – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
A hotbed for supernatural occurrences, friendly ghosts may pay you a visit at this historic property which can trace its roots back to 1794. Room 932 is said to be the most haunted, with strange reflections in the mirror, phantoms hovering over the bed, and more. During your time in Lehigh Valley, don’t miss the Historic Haunts Ghost Tour.
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This story was originally published September 16, 2022 7:05 AM.