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The historic Driskill Hotel built in 1886 and located on Brazos Street in downtown is a popular tourist destination.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 19 most haunted hotels in America

Your room service might be delivered by a ghost at the most haunted hotels in America.

Written by
Mark Williams
Shoshi Parks
Sarah Medina

If you’re the type of person who packs an ouija board and EMF detector for every vacation, or someone who just loves a great ghost story, nothing beats a stay at one of the most haunted hotels in America. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of creepy accommodations across the country.

At La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, a site of numerous gruesome murders, you might encounter the spirit of a judge who was gunned down in the 1800s or a young woman killed by a jealous ex (on her wedding night, no less!). Over in Milwaukee, the Pfister Hotel is so terrifying that some Major League Baseball players are scared to stay there. Prefer someplace that’s a little less spooky? Try the Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles, rumored to house the spirits of film legends Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

The good news is that many of these properties are steeped in rich history and include luxurious linens and antique decor, so you’ll find plenty of comfort and charm to accompany those thrills and chills. But you may want to sleep with the lights on, just to be safe.

Ready to be greeted by an innkeeper who’s been dead for 200 years, or find your pillows inexplicably floating across your room? Here are the top hotels for exploring things that go bump in the night. Make a reservation… if you dare.

p.s. These haunted Airbnb listings, real-life haunted houses, and jaw-dropping ghost tours are as fun as they are bone-chilling. 

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Most haunted hotels in America

Nestled atop Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains and overlooking the Victorian village of Eureka Springs, the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is considered an icon of Southern hospitality, but welcoming smiles give way to a dark history. Called “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” by Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, the hotel was once used as a hospital run by radio host and inventor Norman Baker, who claimed to have the cure for cancer (and was later convicted of mail fraud). Several ghosts are said to have “checked out but never left,” including Theodora, a cancer patient spotted fumbling for her keys near room 419, Breckie, a four-year-old boy seen bouncing a ball, and Michael, who fell to his death during the hotel’s construction. You may want to avoid room 218, his favorite hangout, where guests have reported seeing hands in the bathroom mirror and hearing a man screaming on the ceiling. For a friendlier ghost, look for Morris the cat, who was affectionately called the hotel’s “General Manager” for over 20 years.

Sure, this elegant century-old hotel just outside Rocky Mountain National Park offers beautiful panoramic views, but its drop-dead gorgeous setting also inspired Stephen King to write one of the scariest stories of the last hundred years: The Shining. While there is no evidence of anyone having a violent psychotic breakdown in the hotel (unlike Jack Torrance, the book’s central character who was famously played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film adaption), paranormal experts have discovered some otherworldly activity on the premise. For the inside scoop, book The Historic Stanley Night Tour to hear some spooky stories after dark.


Known as the “Grand Hotel of the West,” the Pfister Hotel opened in 1893 and wooed guests with its gorgeous interior (including gold trimmings and striking chandeliers) and modern technology such as electricity and thermostat controls. Owner Charles Pfister loved his new building so much that he decided to stick around for all eternity, roaming the halls and offering guests a spookier take on room service. The hotel is also known to terrify Major League Baseball players, who have described hearing strange noises, seeing electronics come to life on their own, and being touched by a ghost. Some players are too scared to stay here, but those brave enough to stay here may hit a home run of horrors.

  • Hotels
  • Penn Quarter

Visitors to this comfy, luxe hotel in the heart of the nation’s capital should be aware: if you catch a scent of almonds, something is fishy. Named for its former distinguished residents, John Hay and Henry Adams, this Italian Renaissance-style hotel opened in 1928 and has 124 guest rooms, 21 deluxe suites, and one famous ghost. The spirit is said to be Clover Adams, Henry’s wife. She was a photographer who allegedly committed suicide in the house by ingesting potassium cyanide, a liquid used in darkrooms that smells like almonds. Today, her ghost is rumored to open and close doors, turn on music, and sob through the walls—carrying a lingering, almondy scent as she haunts the hotel.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Coral Gables

A crown jewel of Southern Florida architecture, the Biltmore Hotel opened in 1926 as a premier resort and golf course frequented by celebrities and world leaders such as Babe Ruth, Judy Garland, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. During World War II, the government converted the property into a military hospital (and later a veterans’ ward). Though it was remodeled and returned to its four-star glory in the 1980s, some spirits lingered. Today, visitors still claim to spot ghosts, including nurses, wounded soldiers, and a gangster named Thomas "Fatty" Walsh who was shot at a party on the 13th floor during the Jazz Age.

Georgia’s oldest city has gorgeous architecture, cobblestone streets, large oak trees, and a handful of ghostly residents that date back a hundred years or more. You’ll find some of these spooky souls at The Marshall House, a 19th-century hotel that was used as a hospital during yellow fever outbreaks in the mid-1800s and to treat wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Although a few guests have reported seeing phantoms winding down the narrow halls, you’re more likely to hear the sounds of children laughing (when no young guests are nearby) or experience faucets randomly turning on. In October, the hotel embraces its reputation by offering special Halloween packages with discounts for local ghost tours (not a bad deal, if you ask us).

  • Hotels
  • Pacific Heights

This glamorous Pacific Heights Victorian bed and breakfast is full of 19th-century details like antique furniture, fireplaces in guest rooms, a salon for afternoon tea (or sherry), and at least one rumored resident ghost. Before becoming a hotel, the venue was a girls’ etiquette school, but eventually shuttered and became a gentlemen’s club. However, the former headmistress of the school, Miss Mary Lake, was displeased about the sale (we can’t blame her), and she’s not afraid to show it: her spirit still likes to pull late hours patrolling the halls and hanging in her former office, Room 410, like a posthumous protest.

Lucky guests of this elegant hotel near Boston commons may encounter the ghost of its founder, Harvey Parker, who likes to roam the halls of the 10th floor and appear as a misty apparition with a black mustache. Though he hasn't been seen for years it's unlikely that he's gone for good; reports of floating lights and the sound of a rocking chair on the 10th floor suggest his spirit is still lingering. And Parker isn’t the only spirit here. If you’re staying in room Room 303, you might catch a whiff of a long-time, cigar-loving resident who still puffs his stogies. There have also been reports of the hotel’s elevators mysteriously rising on their own and sightings of a man in a stovepipe hat.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Congress Ave District

Austin’s oldest operating hotel is a luxurious landmark, but considering its 136-year-old age, it’s no surprise the property has its share of alleged ghosts. Locals tell stories of a young girl named Samantha, who tripped on the hotel’s grand staircase and fell to her death but still lurks in the shadows. Listen for her giggles as she chases a ball down the steps (doomed to repeat her fatal mistake). Another tale details how two brides committed suicide on the same day — in the same room (525) — but during different decades. The head-soul-in-charge, however, is the stately Colonel Jesse Driskill, the hotel’s original owner, who likes to pop up now and then to check in on his grand creation.

This splendid hotel, located in the heart of Santa Fe, is a favorite with guests and ghosts alike. Though the current hotel was built in 1922, the site has seen its fair share of inns where murders and other gruesome acts took place. You may encounter the spirit of the Honorable John P. Slough, a judge who was shot in 1867 and occasionally likes to shoot the breeze with hotel patrons, a businessman who gambled away his fortune and committed suicide, or a woman who was murdered on her wedding night by a jealous ex. She’s been noted to appear in room 510 (the wedding suite, of course).

  • Hotels
  • French Quarter

Constructed in the early half of the 1800s, the Orleans Ballroom and Theater (where the Bourbon Orleans Hotel now stands) was a lively place. Nevertheless, the ballroom was eventually converted into a convent that also served as an orphanage and medical ward during a particularly deadly yellow fever epidemic. Today, ghosts are said to roam the halls and they include a confederate soldier, a lonely dancer, nuns, and even children. Some advice: take it easy on the signature Voodoo Mojo cocktails in the Bourbon O bar if you don’t want to see double trouble!

The once-thriving settlement of Story, Indiana, was mostly abandoned during the Great Depression, and the surrounding area was acquired by the state for public parkland. Today the “Blue Lady,” one of Indiana’s most notorious ghosts, haunts the Story Inn, a secluded hotel known for its rather inconvenient location in the wilderness. Believed to be the wife of the town’s founder, Dr. George Story, the apparition has spooked hundreds of guests who’ve all recorded their encounters in the inn’s guest log. She is said to have blue eyes, carry the scent of cherry tobacco, and occasionally leaves blue items for the guests to find.


If you remember the schoolyard chant about Lizzie Borden, the girl who gave her mother 40 whacks (and her father 41), you’re familiar with the gruesome ax murders that occurred at this site in 1892. While we’ll never know whether Borden was actually to blame for her father and stepmother’s death, many people are convinced that their spirits still haunt the place. The three-story home is now a historic bed and breakfast, but if you’re too nervous to spend the night, you can opt for a 50-minute tour of the house and museum.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Hollywood

Located alongside the Hollywood Walk of Fame and just across the street from the TCL Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Roosevelt is a part of La La Land's storied history. In the mid-1900s, many big-screen legends stayed here, but none were as captivating as Marilyn Monroe, who called the hotel home for two years. The blond bombshell’s ghost is said to still haunt the grounds along with Montgomery Clift, who lived in suite 928 for six months while shooting From Here to Eternity. Today, some claim to hear the Hollywood heartthrob still practicing his trumpet. Too spooked to stay the night? The hotel is one of the many stops along the LA Ghost Tour, which scours the neighborhood for paranormal activity.

  • Things to do
  • Loop

Dating back to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, this iconic landmark in the South Loop has seen its fair share of historic visitors (including two presidents, international celebrities, and notorious gangsters). Unfortunately, some guests liked the accommodations so much that they never checked out. These lingering spirits include the ghosts of Al Capone, a man named “Peg-Leg Johnny,” and a young boy who was allegedly thrown from the 12th story by his mother. However, the Congress Plaza is most famous for Room 411, which accounts for dozens of creepy stories and prompts terrified guests to call security and the front desk.

The Historic Bethlehem Hotel has a long history of friendly hospitality, so it’s no surprise that some of its characters decided to stick around. There’s a stage performer from the 1800s who still enjoys putting a show in the lobby, an 18th-century cabinet maker, and the former landlord of the Eagle Hotel (the hotel that was on site before Historic Hotel Bethlehem) who caused quite a stir around town (she had a habit of not wearing stockings or shoes—shudder!). For your best chance at meeting one of these spirits, book the “room with a boo” on the ninth floor, a.k.a. Room 932, where many guests have previously claimed to experience paranormal activity.


This Montana hidden gem is filled with both old-warm appeal and old-world spirits. Constructed in 1910 by John Q. Adams, the hotel was primarily used as a rest stop for train passengers and crew. Mr. Adams, however, decided to make this his final resting place. Guests have reported seeing his spirit lurking in the hotel’s lobby and grand staircase; some even claimed that he visited their room in the middle of the night (not cool, Mr. Adams). Joining him is the ghost of a female housekeeper, who will appear from thin air and then quickly vanish into a wall, searching for a closet that’s no longer there. If this doesn’t keep you up at night, know that several guests have claimed to see strange lights and hear odd sounds. Many have called the local police department to investigate the occurrences!

  • Restaurants
  • First Hill

Though Alice B. Toklas is best known for her life in early 20th century Paris, where she and life partner Gertrude Stein presided over a salon frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso, she spent her youthful years in Seattle. Rumor has it that Alice returned to the Emerald City after her death, and her spirit is said to be on an extended stay at the Sorrento, one of the city’s oldest and most elegant hotels. If you stay on the fourth floor, be on the lookout for moving drinking glasses, as Alice likes to keep the party going by playing bartender in her afterlife.

  • Hotels

The Alamo isn’t the only haunted and historic spot in San Antonio. Designed in 1924 as an advanced medical arts facility, the Emily Morgan Hotel was once a hospital complete with surgical floors and a crematorium. After the Texas landmark became a hotel in 1984, guests have reported strange phenomena like lights flickering on and off, old phones ringing mysteriously, video cameras capturing orbs, and a woman dressed in all white who disappears and reappears in a flash. Some guests have described hearing the sounds of hospital carts outside of their rooms, while others report a strong scent of antiseptic and other hospital-like smells on the 14th floor.


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