Haunted hotels in the US

“The tender word forgotten, the letter you did not write, the flower you might have sent dear, Are you haunting ghosts tonight.”
– Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Spending an evening away from home in a luxurious hotel invites the opportunity to be pampered in a spa-like setting, enjoy fine dining and spend a romantic evening in a beautiful room. Over the years, some guests have enjoyed their stays so much at these hotels that they never leave … even after their demise.

With Halloween fast approaching, it’s time to explore some of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. that ooze with charm, history and ghosts. As an intuitive and paranormal researcher, I’ve had the opportunity to stay at many of the hotels on this list and have personally experienced some of the paranormal activity reported there. The question for you is: Do you dare spend an evening in the company of ghosts?

The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)
Ghosts at the Stanley Hotel include children running through the halls and the original owners and namesake of the hotel, Freelan Stanley and his wife. Paranormal reports at the Stanley inspired Stephen King to write his novel, The Shining and part of The Shining mini-series was filmed at the hotel.

TAPS investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson from the Syfy TV show Ghost Hunters investigated the Stanley and observed a number of paranormal occurrences including a thick glass cracking on the bedside table during filming.

Bourbon Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Once home to some of New Orleans’ most elegant parties and balls and at one point operating as a convent and an orphanage, the Bourbon Orleans is steeped in history. Ghostly reports run the gamut from children playing outside, to nuns shushing noisy guests and confederate soldiers pacing on the seventh floor.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s a ghostly Romeo who steals kisses from attractive female guests of the hotel. Located in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, if you don’t have a ghostly encounter while visiting NOLA, chances are you never will.Hotel Del Coronado (Coronado, California)
Located oceanfront in San Diego, the ‘Hotel Del‘ as it’s referred to by locals has a glamorous history, including the filming of Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe on the beach in front of the hotel.

Sadly, the ghosts reported to roam the hotel are two women, both of whom committed suicide while guests of the hotel, the most famous story being of Kate Morgan, who was pregnant and apparently abandoned by her husband. In her distress, she bought a gun and shot herself on the steps of the hotel. Guests who stay in her room report strange noises throughout the night as well as the TV turning on and off and curtains blowing. Others have reported seeing the ghostly woman in the hotel’s bookshop rearranging the displays.

Grove Park Inn (Asheville, North Carolina)
“Built for the Ages” is the motto of this Inn, nestled in Asheville with a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Guests at the Grove Park flock from around the world to enjoy the underground spa and the hotel has attracted a large number of presidents and celebrities over the years.

It’s also the home of the “Pink Lady,” a ghostly figure who is seen frequently in the main Inn’s Palm Court, where she reportedly fell to her death in the 1920s. A gentle spirit, guests report not being scared when she materializes in front of them in her pink gown — she simply appears for a moment and then moves on to another part of the Inn.

Hawthorne Hotel
(Salem, Massachusetts)
Visiting Salem alone during Halloween is enough to guarantee a haunting good time, and highlighting the experience is a stay at the Hawthorne, conveniently located in the midst of all the haunting activity in Salem. The hotel has a long list of ghostly encounters and restless nights including guests being approached by ghosts of sea captains in their room and throughout the hotel.

It is also reported that the land that the Hawthorne was built upon, was previously an apple orchard owned by one of the women executed as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials and that when she visits the hotel, an overwhelming scent of apples fill the air.

Queen Mary (Long Beach, California)
Frequented by paranormal researchers for years now, the Queen Mary is reportedly one of the most haunted ships to date. Nicknamed the “grey ghost” during WWII when she was painted grey to slip back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean carrying soldiers, she’s lived up to her name even after she retired.

Now a hotel and museum, guests of the Queen Mary report running into her ghostly crew on numerous occasions.

Battery Carriage House (Charleston, South Carolina)
Location, location is key in real estate and often in haunted hotels. In a historic port city like Charleston, ghosts walk the streets by day and sleep at the Inns at night.

Stepping through the wrought iron gates out front of the Battery Carriage House Inn, it’s easy to slip back in time to a more gentile and charming era, along with the memories of the civil war in which Charleston was hard hit. Guests of the Inn frequently report seeing headless torsos, ghostly lights and polite encounters with a gentlemen ghost from the civil war era.

Don Cesar Hotel (St. Pete Beach, Florida)
Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on a sugar white sandy beach, the Don Cesar is known as the ‘Pink Palace’ by locals. Employees report seeing the ghost of Thomas Rowe, who originally built the hotel as he embraces his true love Lucinda. They were forbidden to be together in life, but have become reacquainted in the after life and now roam the hotel.

Also used as a convalescent hospital during WWII, guests report ghostly encounters with soldiers walking the halls recovering from their injuries from the war.

Kala Ambrose
is an author, paranormal researcher, and host of the “Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show.” Her new book, Ghost Hunting North Carolina, will be available in stores in 2011. Read her blog on Red Room.

[Images: Flickr | MiguelVieira; alliecreative; Floyd Nello; hyku]