The United States is home to many places that are allegedly haunted, but few locations inspire legends of spirits and apparitions like hotels. From Revolutionary War soldiers to Hollywood starlets to jilted lovers, just about anyone who died under tragic or mysterious circumstances may still be clinging to our world, intent on resolving some unfinished business before they move on to the afterlife. If you’re interested in meeting one of these lost souls, a hotel may be a good place to start.
Hotels said to be haunted often have remarkable histories that help explain the alleged presence of ghosts. These properties are not only reputed to be some of the nation’s most haunted hotels, but they’re also stunning buildings with fascinating backstories that are worth seeing even if you don’t quite believe in ghouls.
The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)
Perhaps no haunted hotel looms larger in the popular imagination than the Overlook Hotel, featured in Stephen King’s novel The Shining, as well as the subsequent film adaptation directed by Stanley Kubrick. King was inspired by his stay at The Stanley Hotel, during which he was plagued by horrible and vivid nightmares. But this Colorado hotel’s haunted history dates back to at least the early 1900s when a gas leak in room 217 caused a deadly explosion. Ghosts are rumored to wander around the bar and piano, and the apparition of a small child is alleged to play with women’s hair. A pet cemetery and a hidden cave network underneath the hotel add to the creepy ambiance.
The Hollywood Roosevelt (Los Angeles)
The Hollywood Roosevelt is a landmark of Old Hollywood—it’s the site of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Many legendary actors have walked through its doors, and some supposedly never left. Marilyn Monroe was allegedly seen dancing in the Blossom Ballroom, many years after her untimely death, while Montgomery Clift supposedly haunts the ninth floor (room 928, in particular). A series of renovations over the years have improved this old hotel’s appearance, making it a popular destination once more, but its reputation for being haunted by Hollywood icons lives on.
1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (Eureka Springs, Arkansas)
Located in downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa has a long and strange history. At one time, the building was purchased by a man who claimed to have a miracle cure for cancer, but a later investigation revealed that he had scammed his sickly patients out of millions of dollars. Today, it’s claimed that the ghost of a nurse can be seen roaming the halls, while a cancer patient is also alleged to haunt room 419. But the most terrifying part of the hotel is the morgue, where ghost hunters have reported chilling experiences.
La Fonda on the Plaza (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
La Fonda on the Plaza, luxurious hotel in adobe Pueblo Revival style in downtown Santa Fe, capital city of New Mexico, United States.
Santa Fe might be a popular destination thanks to its arts and crafts scene, but it’s also home to some violent and horrifying events. La Fonda on the Plaza sits on the site of Santa Fe’s first inn, built sometime in the early 1600s. Back in those days, shootouts and public hangings were regular occurrences. It’s believed that the spirits of men and women from the times of the Wild West still remain at the location of their deaths. Perhaps the most terrifying ghost said to haunt La Fonda on the Plaza is the young bride murdered on her wedding night by an ex-lover—you might spot her in room 510.
The Marshall House (Savannah, Georgia)
Savannah, Georgia, may be one of the ghost capitals of the world, and few sites in Savannah have a more spine-tingling reputation than The Marshall House. Although a lovely building to behold these days, it formerly served as a hospital during the Civil War. It’s rumored that the spirits of Civil War soldiers who died inside this hospital still walk its halls, sometimes even turning on faucets late at night.
Omni Shoreham Hotel (Washington, D.C.)
There is far more than one infamous hotel in Washington, D.C., but none can compete with the Omni Shoreham Hotel when it comes to reported ghost sightings and strange occurrences. Many decades ago, the Doherty family occupied a suite on the eighth floor—and they experienced two unusual deaths while living there. Ever since the Doherty family left the suite in the 1970s, hotel guests and employees have claimed to hear strange noises coming from the eighth floor, including the sounds of a piano being played. Plus, when the Doherty’s suite was renovated in 1997, a worker allegedly fell to their death from the suite’s balcony.
The Queen Mary (Long Beach, California)
After retirement, this iconic ocean liner, launched in 1934, has been permanently docked in Long Beach, California, where it currently serves as a hotel. Though The Queen Mary is a very old property with a unique past, guests may be unaware of the ship’s haunted history—several rooms in the hotel are purportedly haunted. Perhaps the most hair-raising incident occurred in the Mauretania Room: in 1989, three women claimed that a silent passenger sat in a chair in this room and wouldn’t move. When the women called security, the mysterious passenger disappeared right in front of them.
The Sagamore Resort (Bolton Landing, New York)
Lake George has long been a popular summer destination for families across New York, and few hotels there can match the splendor of The Sagamore Resort. But not everyone who visited this grand resort has checked out. The ghost of a young boy said to have been struck and killed by a car is said to haunt the golf course, stealing balls and tossing them at golfers. A woman dressed in white has reportedly been hovering over guests while they sleep, chilling them to the bone. Once, a chef at the hotel said he spoke to a blonde woman who walked right through him—the chef was so distraught by this encounter that he quit right away.
Concord’s Colonial Inn (Concord, Massachusetts)
Concord is home to many historical Revolutionary War-era sites: Its Colonial Inn, built before the war even began, is said to be the home of restless spirits who once fought for their freedom but may now be trapped somewhere between life and death. The most notorious room in the hotel is 24, where many injured soldiers died from wounds suffered on the battlefields.