Haunted Hotels Are In Full Swing

If luxury horror is your thing, look no further than haunted hotels this Halloween. As rounded up in a spread on USA Today, several hotels across the country are incorporating their own tales from the crypt into their businesses this time of year. A couple examples of haunted hotels participating in the spooky season:

The Biltmore Coral Gables in Miami has been everything over the years from a speakeasy during Prohibition to a hospital ward for World War II soldiers to the murder scene of a gangster. Guests have complained of visions and other kinds of ghostly disturbances-including getting dropped off at the 13th floor form the elevator despite the button not being pressed-since the building reopened as a hotel in the 1980s.The Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans once served as a ballroom and theater, but was then turned into a girls’ school, orphanage and medical ward. Guests routinely complain of hearing voices that sound as though they belong to children.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And if you can’t convince them your hotel isn’t filled with ghosts, convince them of the opposite instead.

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Galley Gossip: Flight attendant haunted layover hotel ghost stories (and a haunted plane!)

In the spirit of Halloween, I’d like to share a few layover hotel ghost stories from flight attendants I know…

At a hotel in San Francisco the water kept turning itself on during the night. After the 3rd or 4th time, instead of getting up and turning it off, I had a little talk with the ghost. I was thinking I must have lost my mind. Water went off automatically. Never came on again! – Vicki Howell

At our current Paris hotel, I had an apparition appear at the foot of my bed. At first I didn’t think it was anything until I felt somebody sit on my bed. I turned on the light near the bed and of course there was nothing there. – John Gonzales

On a layover in Miami, I felt someone/something pull the covers off of my shoulder and breathe cold air onto the back of my neck. I jumped out of bed, ran for the door, turned on the light… and no one was there. On the next trip another flight attendant couldn’t get into that same room with her key. Security couldn’t get in either. They had to change her room. Gives me the chills even talking about it. – Penni Reynolds Piskor

At a Sheraton in New Jersey in 1989, I kept thinking there was someone in my room. Woke up several times convinced. Searched the room. Nothing was there. Found out later the hotel was reputedly haunted, and one of the elevators was known to run all night, stopping at each floor even though nobody called it – Julie Meyer

I always clip my curtains closed so the light will not shine through and wake me up. In the middle of the night it was like someone used their hands to push both curtains back forcefully. I was lying there freaking out! Another time I woke up to find the decorative bed quilt folded neatly in the corner of the room. I don’t fold at home nor am I good at it, so I know I didn’t do it in my sleep. The third time we did a seance. We asked for a sign and all the elevators opened simultaneously. We jumped up and ran! – Lynne Smith

In Mexico a friend had similar experience as John did above. A guy sat on the edge of his bed in the middle of the night, but when he turned on the lights, no one was there. He mentioned something to the front desk and they sheepishly asked if he was gay. When he said yes, they said that Jorge always visited gay guys in their rooms (I was never visited!) I don’t believe in haunting and have waited for them every time! – Gordon Valentine

Lights, faucet and bathtub all turned on during my sleep at the layover hotel in New Orleans. Just asked the naughty perpetrator to behave themselves because I needed the sleep before an early roll out. – Alx Stellyes

It was an old hotel in Boston, next to an historic graveyard. I was having a crazy dream about a Nun. My room was in a corner and I woke up in the middle of the night to repeated pounding. Turned the lights on, it stopped. Asked the driver the next day what the deal was with the hotel. (Didn’t tell him about my dream) He said a certain floor was haunted ( mine, of course!) by a NUN. – Lori Polka

In Manchester England we used to stay at a hotel with huge vaults and all were opened except one where someone locked themselves in it hundreds of years ago. The skeleton key is still in the lock, from the inside, but nobody can get it opened. Then you go into the bedrooms and they are all different themes. Mine was very opulent. She (the ghost) Kept turning on the sink faucet. After getting up 2 times to turn it off I was getting pissed. The third time I just screamed “turn that effing water off! And it did. Never picked up another Manchester trip. – Daniel Koukes

At Tower Air there was an aircraft (604) we ferried a lot. A spirit would walk up and down the aisles and wake us up. It also would unlatch everything in the galley and open all the carts and bins. You would close them and tell her to stop. A little later you’d hear it happening again. – Lynne Smith

The hotel Jakarta is known for having all sorts of ghost stories, especially amongst female, Chinese, Japanese and Korean crew. They tend to sleep 2-3 in a room instead of alone in that hotel! – Sodwee.

There was an Eastern Airlines airplane that went into the Everglades. It was Flight 401. The airline finally had it dismantled and used parts in other aircraft – Vicki Howell

Eastern Airlines L-1011 #318 was a haunted plane. It had ovens taken from the airplane that crashed in the Everglades in the early ’70’s. So many sightings and occurrences were reported that the a/c # had to be changed. Who knows where it is now – Julie Meyer

I remember reading the book of Eastern flight 401 and all the happenings from that incident. Came to be they had to remove all the extra parts from the plane and any carts that were used on other flights had to be grounded as they were all linked to Flight 401 – Gordon Valentine

Photo courtesy of dantc and roeyahram

Ten most haunted hotels, as ranked by travelers


haunted hotels - hotel queen mary

Planning a creepy getaway this Halloween? Don’t rely on rumors when hunting for a hotel with the most paranomal activity. According a poll of more than 800 on TripAdvisor, 17% of travelers say that they have had a supernatural or ghostly encounter while staying at a hotel. Just in time for Halloween, the site has released their list of the country’s most “haunted hotels,” ranked by the number of times “ghost,” “haunted” or “supernatural” appeared in reviews.

“Paranormal experiences may not be guaranteed at these ‘haunted’ properties, but their rich histories and colorful pasts offer travelers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip back in time,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

So go ahead – “boo”k away this fall. Just don’t blame anyone if things go bump in the night.

1. 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa , Eureka Springs, Arkansas – Average Nightly Rate: $91 – $214

Constructed in 1886, this mountaintop spa resort boasts a number of spirits, including Michael, an Irish stonemason who fell to his death while building the hotel, and even a cat, named Morris. Daily ghost tours ($18 for adults; $7 for under-12s) offer a behind-the-scenes peek at the property, and access to otherwise off-limits sights including the basement and morgue. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “I found it to be the spookiest of all the ‘haunted’ hotels I have stayed at… I was surprised to find many orbs in the photos we took.”

2. Hotel Queen Mary , Long Beach, California – Average Nightly Rate: $89 – $179

Since making her maiden voyage in 1936, this historic steamship has served as a luxury ocean liner, troopship and in more recent years, a stationary hotel. Some 55 ghosts are rumored to linger on-board, including Jackie, a young girl who can be found taking a dip in the swimming pool. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “I want to believe that everything that we experienced was real. We did record some orbs flying around our room while we slept. (We set up our video recorder on night vision).”

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3. Stanley Hotel , Estes Park, Colorado – Average Nightly Rate: $142 – $291

This property, which first opened its doors in 1909, is known for its inspirational role in the Stephen King classic, “The Shining”. Regular ghost hunts ($7 – $50 for adults) take travelers to some of the property’s most haunted hotspots, including the concert hall, in search of paranormal experiences. One TripAdvisor traveler wrote, “Had a lot of activity from the playful spirits there. The closet door opened and closed several times, the TV turned itself off and on, the covers were pulled off of us in the night and there was audible whispering in the room.”

4. Copper Queen Hotel , Bisbee, Arizona – Average Nightly Rate: $75 – $150

Completed in 1902, this property was the product of a booming mining town, and built to accommodate visiting investors and dignitaries. Today, guests can rub shoulders with three resident ghosts: Julia Lowell, a lady of the night; a dapper gentleman wearing a cape and a top hat, and a mischievous young boy. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “If you want to try finding a ghost ask for an ‘active’ room! We had an active room and let’s just say I couldn’t quite explain all that I saw and heard!”

5. Marshall House , Savannah, Georgia – Average Nightly Rate: $112 – $236

Designated as a National Historic Building by The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, this property has served many different uses since being built in 1851, including serving as a hospital for Civil War soldiers. Since reopening as a hotel in 1999, many guests have reported ghostly sightings. One TripAdvisor traveler stated, “…Heard someone running in the room above me. Upon telling the staff we were told the entire floor above us was empty. So if you’re looking for a ghostly experience, definitely consider this hotel.”

6. Admiral Fell Inn , Baltimore, Maryland – Average Nightly Rate: $154 – $333

This historic property, comprising seven different buildings dating back to the 1770s, boasts a rich history. Among other uses, the Inn has formerly served as a theater and a boarding house for sailors – and today, travelers can choose from 80 unique guestrooms and partake in free ghost tours on Friday and Saturday evenings. “If you are searching for character, charm, great service and ghost history this is the place to stay,” suggested one TripAdvisor traveler.

7. The Menger Hotel , San Antonio, Texas – Average Nightly Rate: $90 – $175

This hotel, situated next to the Alamo, was built in 1859 on the site of Texas‘ first brewery. Photos of prominent former guests, from Babe Ruth to President Theodore Roosevelt, line the walls – and Roosevelt’s spirit is rumored to have since been seen sipping on a drink at the hotel bar, in which he recruited cowboys for the Rough Riders. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “…Felt cold spots in several places in and around the hotel and got plenty of goose bumps during our stay, but I never once felt afraid.”

8. Bullock Hotel , Deadwood, South Dakota – Average Nightly Rate: $100

This historic hotel was founded in the 1890s by Deadwood‘s first Sheriff, Seth Bullock, and today, visitors to the town can pay their respects to the former lawman and other notable Wild West figures, including Calamity Jane, at the nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery. Hotel guests may be in for a much closer encounter with Bullock, whose spirit has supposedly roamed the property since his passing in 1919. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, “Heard tell of the ghost tour, but didn’t need to go on it as we could feel Seth Bullock‘s presence in the hotel already!”

9. Place D’Armes Hotel , New Orleans, Louisiana – Average Nightly Rate: $119 – $480

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this property is said to have been built on the site of a former school house that was destroyed in a fire, in which many perished. Resident ghosts are rumored to include former pupils, as well as an elderly bearded man dressed in 1800’s attire. One TripAdvisor traveler noted, “…My husband and daughter said they heard children laughing and playing in the next room and the ceiling fan came on all by itself. There was no next room, it was a brick wall outside!”

10. Hotel Del Coronado , Coronado, California – Average Nightly Rate: $289 – $720

Sun, sand and spirits are the order of the day at this beachfront getaway, built in 1888. The property has seen a stream of famed visitors over the years, from Charlie Chaplin, to Humphrey Bogart – but it is a former guest by the name of Kate Morgan who has continued to make her presence felt, since taking her life at the resort in 1892. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “I brought my K2 Meter (it’s believed the meter can pick up the ‘magnetic fields’ of spirits). I actually got some ‘hits’ on it while we were having breakfast in our room.”

The good old days were horrible


Ah, Merry Olde England! A time and place with happy people, clean streets, and scenes that looked just like they do on BBC historical dramas.

Not!

Premodern England was a grim place of death, filth, and general misery. Actually that can describe pretty much everywhere in the nineteenth century, but the town where the Brontë sisters lived was especially nasty. Some authors write novels to escape reality, and the Brontë sisters had a lot to escape from. Two of their sisters died in childhood thanks to the neglectful conditions at their boarding school. Then the Grim Reaper took the remaining sisters and their brother one by one.

This may have been due to the horrible health conditions in their town of Haworth, Yorkshire. At a time when all towns were unsanitary, Haworth took the prize. Haworth stands on the side of a steep hill with much of its water supply coming from natural springs near the top. Also near the top of the hill is the town graveyard. So crowded was this graveyard that the coffins were often buried ten deep. Water flowing through the graveyard contaminated the public pumps and ensured a steady supply of more dead bodies, which would rot, seep their juices into the water supply, and start the cycle anew. The Black Bull pub contributed to this by using this spring water to brew its own beer. One wonders what it tasted like.

%Gallery-104759%This wasn’t the only spring in Haworth, but the locals managed to ruin the others by placing open cesspools next to the pumps. Although the connection between cleanliness and health was only imperfectly understood, Patrick Brontë, local clergyman and father of the Brontë sisters, realized a place where 41 percent of the population died before age six had some serious issues. In 1850 he brought in Dr. Benjamin Babbage (son of Charles Babbage, who built the first computer) to make an inspection. Babbage was horrified at what he saw and his damning report of the local squalor made reformers take notice. If it wasn’t for Babbage, Haworth probably wouldn’t get so many tourists. People tend not to like smelling open cesspits and drinking decayed bodies while on vacation.

If natural causes didn’t bump you off, the Haworth poisoner might do it for you. John Sagar ran the local workhouse, the place where the poor were forced by law to live. There they were underfed, overworked, and slept in rat-infested little rooms as a punishment for the cardinal sin of poverty. Sagar was a “short, dark, vulgar-looking man” who only had one arm, which he used to beat his wife Barbara mercilessly. Everyone was too afraid of him to come to her aid. When she finally died it wasn’t by beating, but by arsenic poisoning. Sagar was the obvious suspect. Questions were also raised about the deaths of their nine children. Yet Sagar got off due to lack of evidence, and he lived to the ripe old age of 78, a small miracle considering the conditions of the town. Strangely, his is one of the only graves in the cemetery that shows signs of weathering. Some locals say nature is serving justice where the courts did not.

Links to the eerie past still linger. On some old buildings, strange stone faces stare out onto the street. They look like ancient Celtic stone heads, but researcher John Billingsley says they were a continuing folk magic custom that experienced a rebirth of popularity in the area in the 17th and 19th centuries. They were used to ward off evil, and as late as 1971 a head was placed over the front door of the Old Sun Inn to stop a haunting. It’s said to have worked! If you had witch trouble you could also carve a “W” into your door frame, or put pins into a bullock’s heart and bury it beneath the floorboards. Special witch bottles could be used to trap witches. I’ve seen pinned hearts and witch bottles at the West Highland Museum in Ft. William, Scotland, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, so the practice was widespread

With all the death and tourists, it’s not surprising that Haworth is full of ghost stories. Not only did I stay in a haunted hotel room, but every single bar I drank at or restaurant I ate in had a resident ghost. Phantom drinkers, gray ladies, even haunted carriages all prowl Haworth at night. There are deeper mysteries than ghosts, however. Witchcraft and folk magic abounded. Fear of witches was so great that local “cunning man” Old Jack Kay, a contemporary of the Brontës, would lift curses for a price. He also told fortunes and could show you your future spouse in a mirror or bowl of water. He and other “cunning men” brewed cures for the sick. Some were herbal medicine that might have been effective, while others had dubious ingredients. The urine of a red cow supposedly cured cancer. I suppose it would be unscientific to dismiss red cow’s urine as a cure for cancer with testing it, but good luck getting volunteers for the clinical trial.

So the next time you’re in some charming historic locale, think back on how things used to be, and be thankful that they’re not like that anymore!

Don’t miss the rest of my series on Exploring Yorkshire: ghosts, castles, and literature in England’s north.

Coming up next: Hiking the Yorkshire moors!

A special thanks to local historians Steven Wood and Philip Lister for all the great stories that contributed to this article, and all the great ones I couldn’t fit in.


This trip was sponsored by
VisitEngland and Welcome to Yorkshire, who would have a lot less to brag about if Dr. Babbage hadn’t fixed a few things.

Five haunted attractions for Halloween: options around the world

Halloween is the one day a year we seek fear rather than try to avoid it. We invite the prospect of ghosts, witches and vampires, and even if we concede that they aren’t real, it’s fine to suspend disbelief for a day. To heighten the sensation, consider wrapping your next trip in the Halloween spirit. There are plenty of destinations around the world that will help the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end.

1. Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop
Ghost-hunter and historian Drew Sinton is waiting for you at The Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia. If you’re not afraid of the written word, this starting point won’t scare you, but along the way, you’ll hit a number of spots where ghosts have been sighted. Old Melbourne Goal (jail, that is) was home to 135 hangings. One of them, Ned Kelly, is said to have resulted in a ghost that won’t leave the site of his demise. While you’re there, walk the road to the gallows. If this isn’t enough for you, look for nutty ghosts on the Beechworth Ghost Tour at what was once the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum.

2. Under the Royal Mile
Beneath Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile, you’ll find a warren of hidden “closes” where people once lived, worked … and perished. Mary King’s Close, once abandoned and forgotten, is now open via the Supernatural History Tour. Explore one of Scotland’s most haunted locations, get the scoop on urban myths and hear about sightings that occurred as recently as 2003. A few claim to have felt ghosts brush past on this tour. Will you be one of them?

3. Follow New France’s Great Master
Old Montreal‘s cobblestone streets set the scene for any supernatural encounter. The sun goes down; the wind blows off the river. You don’t know what’s gust and what’s ghost! History is the breeding ground of the other-worldly, and the Great Master will take you through the century’s that have contributed to what is now the “New France Ghost Hunt.”

4. The Darker Side of Luxury
No, you won’t have to worry about peasant uprisings, but if you’re looking for paranormal trouble, you can find it at a handful of Fairmont hotels. At the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (where I suffered through a business trip from hell a decade ago), keep an eye open for Victoria, a now deceased member of one of the founding families of the Sonoma Valley. A former steward, now dead, of course, hangs out in the silver room at the Fairmont Royal York, and a hotel maid who fell to her death in 1908 has yet to leave the Fairmont Empress.

5. The Ghastly Side of Downtown Orlando
I’m sure there’s something going on at Disneyworld, but skip it in favor of downtown Orlando (my favorite part of Florida). On the Orlando Ghost Tours, you’ll get two hours to pick up the basics of parapsychology and poke around in locations confirmed to be haunted. You’ll even get to use specialized equipment to conduct your own paranormal investigation. Who you gonna call? After this, probably yourself.