Haunted Historic Hotels (US)
Updated: Nov 1
Fall is finally upon us, and I have to say that I’m so excited. There’s a chill to the air, the nights are getting longer, and soon enough it will be Halloween. (Did I happen to mention that is my favorite holiday? Well, now you know!)
I’m finally back in the States and I’ve been hopping from one hotel to the next. When looking for places to stay, I find myself gravitating toward historic buildings. I don’t know why, there’s just something about them that makes me feel warm and comfortable, it’s as though your being transported to another time and place, where the walls tell stories of the times that once were.
Not all historic places are haunted, but I found that a lot of them are—and given my passion for the strange and unusual, haunted places are just up my alley (especially a place where you can stay the night!) Places tend to be haunted by ghosts, but you must understand that not all ghosts are bad or evil. Some ghosts may not even know that have passed on and are just going about their normal routine. So, what makes a place scary? Perhaps it’s experiencing something that you simply cannot see.
On that note, I’d like to share with you some haunted, historic hotels across America, and tell you about some of the ghosts that made them so.
Historic Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
I’m sure you’ve all heard the rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one!”
In the late 1890s, Abby and Andrew Borden were found brutally murdered in their home in Fall River. Investigators quickly pinned the crime on the couple’s daughter, Lizzie. However, Lizzie was never found guilty of the crime, but this didn’t stop the interest of the public. The story of Lizzie Borden has since been made into many books, TV shows, and films, and today, guests can visit the very house where the story started.
Tours are offered daily, with ghost hunts of the first floor and basement, while courageous guests have the opportunity to stay overnight in the very room Abby Borden’s body was found in. But the overnight stay may not be for everyone, as guests have reported hearing footsteps in the halls, disembodied voices, witnessing objects move on their own, strange odors of unknown sources, and apparitions.
Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
In the 1930s, Norman Baker purchased what would be known as the Crescent Hotel and turned it into a hospital. He claimed to have a guaranteed cure for cancer. Patients flocked to the hospital in hopes to be rid of their ailments, and while many patients entered the building, not nearly as many came back out.
Norman Baker was not a doctor and disagreed with the ways of the American Medical Association—he instead practiced alternative medicinal healing. It turns out, however, that Baker’s miracle cure was really a mixture of clover, watermelon seeds, corn silk, and water. The hospital was soon shut down and later converted into a hotel, but some of Bakers patients never left and are said to haunt the hotel today.
Guests can visit the hotel’s historic archives and learn all about its spooky past, and ghost tours are held nightly. Visitors are taken through some of the hotel’s most ominous parts, one of which is the morgue. Guests have reported being poked or touched by spirits, feeling cold spots, and seeing dark figures. The hotel even hosts an annual paranormal weekend where attendees can partake in overnight investigations, seminars, and exclusive access to the creepiest parts of the hotel.
Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts
Located in Salem, Massachusetts, the Hawthorne Hotel is often regarded as one of the most haunted hotels in America. Salem in and of itself is an ominous seaport town—where the famous witch trials occurred nearly 300 years prior—but rather than witches haunting this hotel, it’s said to be sea captains. Named after one if its residents and esteemed author, Nathanial Hawthorne, guests of the hotel have reported feeling cold spots, lights and faucets turning on and off, and a ghostly woman roaming the halls of the sixth floor.
A séance was held in the Grand Ballroom of the hotel in 1990, in an attempt to contact Harry Houdini. But much like other attempts to contact the famous illusionist, no contact was made. However, this event sparked the beginning of the now annual Hawthorne Halloween Ball where guests can attend wearing their favorite costumes.
The Sayre Mansion, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Ghosts can be creepy, but encountering the ghosts of children? I think that takes it to a different level. The Sayre Mansion was home to the Sayre family and their 12 children. Although there were many children, many also died in the mansion, and some at very young ages. The mansion was later converted to a hotel, with employees and guests reporting mysterious occurrences—tugs at their clothing, televisions sets turning off, and other subtle, innocent manifestations.
Paranormal investigators detected paranormal activity, and given the type of experiences, rumors have developed that the mansion is haunted by the spirits of the Sayre children. The Mansion however did not hold any paranormal events until 2021, when it officially launched its first ever experience for guests. The event consists of a four-course meal, cocktails, a tour of the mansion, psychic readings, and an investigation held in the wine cellar. Guests can also opt to stay overnight, though the children have been known to keep some people awake.
Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, Louisiana
Ah, New Orleans. There’s a spice to New Orleans that is simply one of a kind. From creole cooking and Mardi Gras to Voodoo practices and essences of the old South, it’s safe to say that New Orleans is home to several haunted hotels.
Perhaps one of the most haunted is the Hotel Monteleone, which gained its reputation due to its famous ghosts. One of the most famous ghosts is Maurice. Maurice was a young boy, who visited the hotel with his parents in the 1890s. His parents were avid theatre goers and often frequented the French Opera House, leaving Maurice in the care of his nurse or nanny.
One night, while staying at the hotel, Maurice’s parents went to the theatre, and Maurice developed a terrible fever and passed away. Maurice’s parents were grief-stricken and returned to the hotel to see the spirit of their lost son. According to legend, they didn’t have to wait long to see the apparition of their child, as the boy supposedly appeared before his mother, saying: “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m fine.” Shook by the event, Maurice’s mother cried, but was happy to know her son was at peace. Many guests have reported running into Maurice’s spirit on the 14th floor.
The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
Have you ever wanted to stay on a ship, but were afraid of being far out at sea? Well, the Queen Mary may be the place for you—if you can handle the spirits, that is. The Queen Mary is a docked ship in Long Beach, California, which has been converted into a hotel, attracting guests from all over due to its haunted history.
The Queen Mary was built in the 1930s and initially departed from England carrying passengers across the Atlantic. But she wasn’t your average transport ship—she was a luxury ship with 5 dining areas and lounges, 2 bars, a swimming pool, a squash court, and even a small hospital. She was top of the line travel for the time, that is until 1939 when she was stripped of her gold and converted into a troopship during WWII. After the war, she continued to transport passengers, until the need for sea travel was replaced by planes, and The Queen Mary set sail for her last voyage to Long Beach, California in 1967.
The ship contains several known hotspots, including Shaft Alley, where it’s said that a crew member was crushed under a hatch door. Guests can experience paranormal tours and activities, and overnight stays where things really go bump in the night. Guests have reported lights and faucets turning on and off, and loud knocking at their doors when they’re trying to sleep.
There’s nothing better than a good ghost story. One of my favorite introductions when a story starts is: “It was a dark and stormy night…” You can picture it in your mind. You can smell the rain as it covers an old, dark building set before a purple and blue sky, riddled with storm clouds, and the only light you see is the moon watching over it all.
Ghosts, stories, about people told by people through language. I guess you could say ghost stories are as essential to language and culture as well, any other part.
I think my purpose in life is to tell stories—to paint pictures to those who cannot see, describe places where some may not be able to travel to, and to share my love for the planet we all inhabit.
Please be rest assured that I will always be here to share my stories. And even when my time comes, I will live through my letters which will forever remain.
Until next time,
1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. (2023, September 21). 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa | Eureka Springs, Arkansas Historic Hotel. https://crescent-hotel.com/
Grisler, A. (2022, September 7). The 27 most haunted hotels in America. US News & World Report. https://travel.usnews.com/features/the-most-haunted-hotels-in-america
Queen Mary Story - TheQueen Mary - Legendary Queen Mary Ship in Long Beach. (n.d.). https://queenmary.com/history/
The 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Haunted Hotels. (n.d.). https://www.historichotels.org/us/2022-Haunted-Hotels.php