America is saturated with legends and tales of ghosts who haunt our hotels. Our rich and diverse history provides for stories of murder, loss and tragedy: all of which are the introduction into some of the most fascinating ghost stories told today. Deciding on five hotels is a daunting, but fascinating, task.
1. The Hotel Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, California. The Queen Mary is a retired cruise ship that operated in 1936-1967. During World War II the ship was used for military purposes and is well known for the “Brides and Babies” voyages when war brides were brought to the United States and Canada. In 1971 the ship was officially opened as a tourist attraction, and amenities were made for a hotel in 1972. With 150 rooms and various activities, restaurants and salons, the Queen Mary is rarely empty. Reports of haunting began shortly after the hotel opened, and current ghost stories provide an account of over forty-five lives lost on board to simple accidents. Over a dozen different ghosts have been reported, including that of a young engineer who was killed in the engine room when he was caught in a portal and crushed during a fire drill. Multiple television series and well known personalities, including Sylvia Browne, have visited the ship and come to the same conclusions. There is a strong presence throughout the ship, and each spirit has a different reason or story for why they are choosing to remain on board. More information on the Queen Mary can be found at legendsofamerica/CA-QueenMary.html.
2. The St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Florida. The St. Francis boasts a tragic love story. Founded and run in the 19th century by a military officer, the legend holds the officer’s nephew was in love with a servant girl. When the love affair was discovered, the uncle forbade the nephew from seeing her again. The nephew was so distraught and depressed he hanged himself in the attic. Upon learning of his death, the servant girl committed suicide by jumping from her third floor bedroom window. Today, “Lily” as she is known, is frequently seen by guests and patrons of the area. If you stay in her room, you should be prepared that she is very picky about TV shows, lights, and anything (such as a curling iron) being left on with electrical current. Ghost tours around the centuries-old town of St. Augustine always include this sight and story; and few people walk away without experiencing some form of paranormal activity at the St. Francis (history and legends can be seen at stfrancisinn.com).
3. Provincial Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana. Originally opened in 1772 as a military hospital, The Provincial is in the heart of the French Quarter, surrounded by tales of voodoo and Cajun History. Additionally the hospital housed Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Vacated after the war and eventually purchased and renovated, the hotel opened in 1961. A postage stamp layout providing smaller buildings and intimate courtyards, it is rumored the most haunted building is #5. Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) has shown significant activity, and many stories echo the same tales of blood stains spreading on floors or ceilings, a Confederate Soldier walking in hallways, and rows of full hospital beds lining dark rooms. New Orleans provides multiple hotels along the cobbled streets of the French Quarter that all advertise some form of haunting. A full list and more information of these places can be found at hauntedneworleanstours.com/hauntedhotels and a more in-depth history of The Provincial viewed at hotelprovincial.com.
4. Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, California. The Del Coronado, simply known as The Del by locals, is a Victorian beachfront compound stretching over thirty acres, well know not only for it’s ghost but because it was the first hotel to adopt and use electrical lighting. The ghost, Kate Morgan, is a young lady who is often seen wearing all black along the grounds and in the room she occupied when she died. The mystery surrounding her death allows that she was at The Del waiting for her estranged husband and found dead at the foot of the stairs. It is unknown if her husband ever came to see her, or if he might have been the reason she perished. Multiple mediums and paranormal investigative groups have confirmed Kate Morgan’s existence and refusal to leave. She stays in the area of her room, 3502 (the number has changed the room number multiple times), and is reported often sitting on the edge of the bathtub or turning off lights; the most common complaint, however, is the freezing temperature often encountered while inhabiting the room. A local group has set up a website devoted to stories of seeing Kate Morgan, sdparanormal.com, and history of the The Del can be read at hoteldel.com.
5. Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado. The Stanley, built by F.O. Stanley (the inventor of the steam engine) in the 1900s is most well known for its role in Stephen King’s Bestseller, The Shining. King wrote the book based on his own experience and stay at The Stanley, and the hotel has repeatedly brought in crowds from national television shows, psychics, and curious onlookers. The kitchen staff reports sounds of a piano playing and a party in the ballroom, and when they go to investigate it is vacant. The well-known Discover Channel show, Ghost Hunters, spent many hours using EVP and thermal imaging techniques in the ballroom, and while they did not experience paranormal activity in the ballroom they reported multiple occurrences in hallways and private guest rooms. Some of the things they witnessed were children playing in the hallways, imprints on sleeping bodies on empty beds, and surges in electrical current. Thermal imaging and EVP confirmed what they reported seeing, acclaiming The Stanley as a true Haunted American Hotel. LegendsofAmerica.com/CP-EstesParkHaunting has a full account of the experience and history regarding The Stanley and F.O. Stanley can be located at stanleyhotel.com