Top 10 Hotels That Will Scare the Daylights Out of You

By: Charles W. Bryant & Jessika Toothman  | 
Jack Nicholson is served a drink by eerie barman Lloyd (Joe Turkel) in a scene from "The Shining," directed by Stanley Kubrick.
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Key Takeaways

  • The Stanley Hotel, the setting of Stanley Kubrick's film "The Shining," is known for ghostly children and a former housekeeper.
  • The Hotel Provincial in New Orleans is said to be haunted by a soldier ghost, with reports of doors opening and sounds of voices when no one is around.
  • Other notable mentions are the Crescent Hotel, with its ghostly nurses and construction worker ghost "Michael," and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, rumored to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

If you see a stack of paper beside your husband's typewriter with this typed over and over, we have some advice for you, especially if you and your husband are caretakers of a seasonal hotel in the mountains of Colorado in the dead of winter, and doubly if your husband is trolling around the lobby talking to ghosts and toting an axe. Here's what you should do: Grab your son, set the hotel on fire and go hide in the snowy maze just outside. If you see a door that says "REDRUM," do yourself a favor and avoid it.


This scenario is familiar to anyone who's seen Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film "The Shining." That movie, starring Jack Nicholson as an unraveling novelist and Overlook Hotel caretaker, is based on a book by Stephen King. The book was actually inspired by a real-life haunted hotel in northern Colorado. King bunked in room 217 of The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., and got the idea to pen what would become the classic horror novel. The hotel concierge claims that King and his wife dropped their bags in the room and came back 45 minutes later to find the suitcases had been unpacked and stowed in the closet. Could it simply have been an ambitious housekeeper? We'll never know.

Supposedly, The Stanley is haunted by a variety of ghosts, including the hotel's builder and owner, F.O. Stanley. Cleaning crews and guests have reported hearing children playing at night. A cleaning woman finished a room and stepped into the hallway. Her supervisor opened the door moments later to find it in shambles. The windows on the third floor have a tendency to go up and down by themselves. A homeless woman who froze to death in the basement of the concert hall is often seen roaming the stage, warming herself.

"The Shining" TV miniseries from 1997 was actually shot at The Stanley, but Kubrick used exteriors of the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Ore., as his Overlook Hotel. While spending the night in the Timberline may be creepy because of its film history, it's not known to be haunted. Staying in the real Stanley Hotel is sure to test the mettle of any paranormal thrill seeker.

If the Stanley doesn't scare the daylights out of you, then maybe a few of the hotels on our top 10 list will.

10: Hotel Provincial

The French Quarter in New Orleans, La., is not short on spirits.
Eduardo Garcia/Getty Images

New Orleans, La., is a mysterious town. Walking the streets of the French Quarter, the ghosts of the Big Easy seem to be present at every turn. Maybe it has something to do with the architecture. Maybe it's the thought of a voodoo doll made in your image. Any way you slice it, New Orleans is a spooky city with many hotels and inns that boast otherworldly visitors. One of these is the Hotel Provincial.

A former soldier supposedly haunts the grounds of the Provincial. Guests have reported everything from doors opening and closing to hearing voices and footsteps when no one else was around. Several séances have been held in the hotel over the years, many of which produced ghostly visions and recorded audio of things like, "Tell Dianne I have to go." A female guest reported being pulled from her bed by a hand and dragged across the room while she kicked and screamed. Another conventioneer claims to have seen the soldier fully materialize in the closet, complete with decorated uniform, before disappearing into thin air.


So why does an Army ghost haunt the Provincial? A former military hospital sat on the same site in 1722. Twin houses took the place of the hospital in 1831 -- both burned down in 1874. Staying at the Provincial may not guarantee you a ghost sighting, but you'll definitely be spooked.

9: Crescent Hotel

No towels, but thanks anyway.
Robb Kendrick/Getty Images

The historic Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Ark., was built in 1886 as one of the first luxury spa hotels in the southern United States. The entire town is known to have many ghosts that roam about, and the Crescent seems to be a favorite destination. If you visit the Crescent, you'll want to avoid room 218, unless you're into having the daylights scared out of you. The legend goes like this: During hotel construction, a stone mason fell to his death in the area that's now room 218. Although his name is unknown, hotel employees refer to him as Michael.

So what does Michael do that's so spooky? How about reaching for you through the bathroom mirror? Or maybe crying out in terror in the ceiling above the bed? The hotel was also a cancer hospital in the 1930s. Guests have seen ghost nurses moving corpses on a gurney through the hallways. Other ghosts include Dr. Ellis, a cancer surgeon, and the lady in white, a woman in a flowing gown who floats through the gardens and perches on balconies. Some guests have complained that they awaken to find their clothes scattered throughout their room. So are these ghostly visions bad for business? Hardly -- the hotel remains a popular tourist destination, and its ghost tour is a big seller.


8: Borden House

The house where the Borden murders took place, now a bed-and-breakfast.
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This next entry on the list isn't haunted, but it was the scene of one of the most notorious murder cases in American history -- the Lizzie Borden case. In the morning hours of Aug. 4, 1892, in Fall River, Mass., Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered with a hatchet in their home. Their 32-year-old daughter Lizzie and the housekeeper were the only people home at the time. Lizzie was arrested for the murders seven days later. The children's song claims that 81 whacks did them in -- the actual number of blows was 29.

Lizzie was acquitted for the brutal crimes after a trial produced no murder weapon, motive or physical evidence. Speculation remains today as to whether Lizzie had anything to do with the murder of her parents. After subsequently being ostracized from the community, she lived out her life quietly and died of pneumonia at the age of 67. The house is now a bed-and-breakfast, and its owners bank on its famous history to lure in guests. You can stay in Lizzie's or her parents' rooms and even eat the same breakfast that the Bordens ate on that fateful morning. For just $1,500, you can rent the entire house and even get married in the very room where the Borden parents were hacked up. What a bargain.


7: Maribel Caves Hotel

It may not be a functioning hotel any longer, but the Maribel Caves Hotel in Wisconsin is still known for attracting guests who illegally camp out within its crumbling walls. Why? Maybe it has something to do with its famous nickname -- Hotel Hell. There's plenty to dispute when it comes to the hotel's history, but even the most skeptical visitor would have to admit that it's one of the scarier places you could visit. Some of the disputed claims include the following [sources: Howell, Unexplained Research]:

  • The hotel burned three times on the same date and glows under a full moon.
  • Skeletal remains are still on the unreachable third floor.
  • A hotel guest killed everyone in the hotel before taking his own life.
  • Black witches performed a ceremony that opened a portal to hell in the front yard fountain. The hellish demons haunted the town of Maribel until a white witch sealed the portal.
  • It served as a hideout for gangster Al Capone during prohibition.
  • Underground passageways exist.

Fortunately, most of the claims are merely urban legend. It simply may be a case of a creepy-looking abandoned building that attracted rumors. The hotel has apparently burned only once, and there's no evidence that any murders ever took place there. Al Capone never owned the hotel but may have used it for his moonshine operations. There are also no secret passageways, but the Maribel Caves are nearby -- they're merely natural underground caves. Even though the spooky claims have largely been disputed, it remains a scary destination -- so much so that the county is considering tearing down the dilapidated hotel to keep vandals out.


6: Holmes "Murder Castle"

Fortunately, the Murder Castle and its torture chambers were burned to the ground.
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The name says it all. In the late 1800s in Chicago, Dr. H.H. Holmes, born Herman Mudgett, built and operated a hotel that later would be dubbed the "murder castle" by law enforcement agents. Holmes was a lifelong cheat, swindler and fraud artist -- in medical school he took out insurance claims on cadavers and mangled the corpses to look like they were accident victims. Shortly before the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Holmes built a 60-room hotel in the Chicago suburb of Englewood. Holmes was the architect, and the hotel housed many bizarre features -- doors that led to nothing, rooms without windows, trapdoors and hidden passageways.

When Holmes opened the hotel up for business, guests got more than they bargained for. For four years, Holmes held various guests prisoner, torturing and killing them. He is known as America's first serial killer, admitting to 28 murders, though it's believed that he was responsible for many more. Some rooms were sealed shut and used as gas asphyxiation chambers, others were lined with iron plates and had blowtorches built into the walls to burn his victims. The prison rooms had rudimentary alarm buzzers to alert him if anyone tried to escape.


The basement of the dwelling reads like a horror movie. Investigators found a surgical table in a room spattered with blood. There were jars of poison and boxes of bones. Holmes had his own crematorium, vats of acid and two lime pits that could dissolve a body in a matter of hours. Chutes from the prison rooms slid bodies directly to the basement.

In a stroke of luck, Holmes was arrested eventually for an insurance fraud scheme. The murders were revealed when police conducted a search of the castle. He was hung for his crimes but never showed any remorse. He claimed to be possessed by the devil. The building was burned to the ground shortly thereafter and eventually became a post office in the 1930s.

5: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

You might spot a sign of Marilyn Monroe if you can afford to stay at this hotel.
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The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, located on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, reportedly has some ghostly incarnations of its own walking the halls at night. Some claim to have seen the ghost of Marilyn Monroe wafting around the exclusive Tropicana Night Club on the premise. Others say they've heard the spectral sounds of Montgomery Clift's trombone emanating from room 928. He stayed in the room in 1953 while he was rehearsing for the movie "From Here to Eternity."

Other alleged ghostly occurrences at the Hollywood Roosevelt include cold spots, loud noises in empty suites and strong emanations of psychic energy.


Up next, we're headed clear across the United States to New Hope, Pa.

4: Logan Inn

At this hotel, you might find that instead of being greeted in the parking lot by a valet attendant, you're greeted by the ghost of a young girl. Visitors have reportedly seen the apparition there on multiple occasions. In fact, the whole town has a reputation for being haunted, but the Logan Inn in particular is known for spectral specimens.

The tale varies, but apparently room 6 is a sight to see (if you get lucky in terms of the whims of the dead). Sometimes called Emily's room, sometimes recognized as the haunt of an unidentified man who won't look upon the living, the room is highly requested by paranormal enthusiasts. A Revolutionary War soldier is also in the mix, and the scent of lavender may alert you that something ghostly is in the works. The purported dead of this hotel are as varied as they are mobile.


3: La Fonda on the Plaza

The La Fonda on the Plaza hotel looks innocent enough in the daylight, but come nightfall ...
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In the heart of Santa Fe, N.M., hauntings abound at the La Fonda on the Plaza hotel. Its rowdy history has created plenty of fodder for supernatural superstars to reportedly still roam its halls. This hotel has had as many owners and names as it has had ghosts in residence. Among the apparitions patrons have noted over the years is that of a distraught salesman, who is said to have thrown himself into the well on residence after he plunged his company into financial ruin. Then there's the ghost of a judge, who was shot by the local official he offended in 1867 and subsequently died of his wounds in the hotel lobby [sources: Ellison, La Fonda].

Other apparitions make rarer appearances, but guests interested in seeing these ghosts might want to try a corner on the east side of the third floor, as well as the hotel's Santa Fe room. Or travelers might find luck in seeing supernatural sightings in more locations within this haunted hotel.


Up next, we're headed to the Big Apple for some serious spirit seeking.

2: Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea, home to famed celebrities, starving artists and a collection of both -- of the more spectral variety.
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The Hotel Chelsea has a larger-than-life reputation. Many a memorable figure has graced its halls -- and purportedly partied pretty hard in its rooms -- much to the curiosity and thrill of street-side fans. But some of those artists, musicians, writers and actors left an even more infamous legacy; they still allegedly haunt the Chelsea's rooms. From Thomas Wolfe to Dylan Thomas, to Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen of Sex Pistols renown, celebrities sometimes apparently refuse to check out from the premises -- even after till death do us part.

Other supernatural occurrences that are said to have occurred at the Hotel Chelsea include the following [source: Ries]:


  • Closets found literally full of skeletons
  • Shrill shrieks from empty hallways
  • Pounding footsteps where no one is walking
  • Lighting and plumbing going on and off at unexpected times

Ready for the last haunted hotel?

1: Hotel Galvez

The Hotel Galvez resides in Galveston Texas, the landing spot of a horrible hurricane in 1900 that killed several thousand people. The ghosts of many of those victims are said to be reawakened even to this day as their bodies are unexpectedly uncovered during building projects.

The hotel reportedly is haunted by several specters, among them a tragically lovelorn lady who tromps around the fifth floor. Apparently her beloved was lost at sea, and after she got word of his demise, she hanged herself from the top turrets of the hotel. Later, her fiancé returned, to everyone's surprise, unharmed. Unfortunately, his beloved was then lost herself, only to tread the hotel's hallways ever after.

When this lady needs some time alone, the staff members know it because their electronic keys don't function as they should. Others have noted that an unusual coldness hangs about the place, which shouldn't occur in such a warm locale.

Get more ghostly info on the next page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

More Great Links

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  • Crescent Hotel & Spa. "America's Most Haunted Hotel?" 2008.
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  • Unexplained Research. "Hotel Hell." Sept. 28, 2004. (Dec. 9, 2011)