Do you dare spend the night? With their sordid pasts, these real life haunted hotel stories have given life to the new season of American Horror Story: Hotel. While the fictional Cortez Hotel is the setting for this installment of the ultra-creepy series starring Lady Gaga, these haunted hotels offer up more than just plushy duvets- how about a visit from a ghostly visitor? Pack your Ouija board and get ready for a night of afterlife mayhem.
Some people just can’t leave their work at work. Simon Benson, original owner of the Benson Hotel in Portland put all his love and energy into turning the crumbling property into a world-class hotel back in the early 20th century. Following his death, he’s still at work showing up fully dressed in a dark suit at inopportune moments and frightening the hell out of guests. Drinks are known to get knocked over by invisible hands and an eerie presence is frequently felt by staff— just ole Benson making sure everything is up to snuff!
The Extra Creepy Factor: While the ghost of Mr. Benson is quite harmless, the hotel has a few other otherworldly residents who seem as charming as the former, unlike some of the other hotels coming up on the list.
Galvez Hotel & Spa
The story is a classic: A despaired bride checks into a hotel and never leaves. During the 1950’s, such events befell a local girl called Audra who hung herself in the west turret of the Galvez Hotel. She checked into room 501 following her assumption that her absent mariner fiance was dead after failing to return following a storm. Tragically, her fiancee returned several days later. Her ghost is said to flicker lights, mess with electronics, break dishes and generally make her presence largely felt by guests. Also sighted has been the ghost of a young girl bouncing a ball and a laundry room ghost who creeps out hotel staff.
The Extra Creepy Factor: Looking to catch a glimpse? The fifth floor is notoriously haunted and online reviews by more than one person have described the seemingly normal room 501 as “evil”. If you ask nicely, staff can make arrangements for a night in that very room.
The Cecil (Stay On Main)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
The Cecil’s story might be the creepiest of them all: one of Los Angeles‘ most famous haunted hotels has a dark past still haunting it today and many believe the hotel to be cursed. In 1985, the hotel was home to serial killer Richard Ramirez as well as his serial killer copycat Jack Unterweger, but, even more recently the hotel, now re-branded as the Stay On Main made the news again. In February 2013, the body of a 21-year-old student was discovered two weeks after she disappeared in the water tank of the hotel following complaints that the water looked and tasted strange. A hotel security video was released showing the student entering an elevator and behaving very strangely–some say as if an unknown presence was taunting her. Following this incident the student seemingly ended up in the water tank.
The Extra Creepy Factor The Cecil and the story of the student inspired American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy for the latest installment of the series. The hotel was rumored to be the last place Elizabeth Short,known as the Black Dahlia, was seen before her murder in 1947 ; her character also made an appearance in Season 1. Murphy has hinted that all the seasons of AHS are connected so the Cecil hotel likely played a very big part in the creation of the whole series.
DEADWOOD, SOUTH DAKOTA
The jewel of the town of Deadwood is the Bullock Hotel, haunted by the town’s first Sheriff and namesake owner of the hotel, Seth Bullock. The Sheriff is rumored to have died on the property in room 211 but is still hard at work, keeping an eye on how things are running and on hotel staff to assure a job well done. While his ghost isn’t malicious, apparitions are frequent enough for the hotel to lead ghost tours to curious visitors. Dishes have been known to shake, rattle and even fly, shoulders are tapped when no one is behind you and your name is called from around corners, person unseen.
The Extra Creepy Factor: Bullock staff claims a strong paranormal presence on the second and third floors with occurrences like showers turning on and off spontaneously as well as unplugged televisions and radios turning on. Glimpses of the Sheriff have also been reported so have your camera ready.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
The Bourbon Orleans is housed in an old building in the historic and haunted French Quarter of New Orleans. It was previously used as a theater and grand ballroom, an orphanage and a convent. Sounds like the recipe for a many haunted hotels stories — continuing on the trend of creepy hotel children, a ghost of a young girl is said to roam the staircases and sixth floor corridors bouncing a ball. Phantom voices are heard and the footsteps of children are heard in unoccupied rooms. This hotel is one to avoid if you’re not ready to be accosted with paranormal experiences.
The Extra Creepy Factor: As many as 17 ghosts are reputed to haunt these hallowed historic halls, many of which are small children likely from the building’s orphanage past. Other residents include that of a man who will steal cheeky kisses from ladies and a lone ballroom dancer.
The Stanley Hotel
ESTES PARK, COLORADO
Opened in 1907, this paranormal paradigm of haunted hotels spooked author Stephen King so much that it spurred him to write The Shining. If you were at all creeped out by the movie, get ready for the real ghosts of the Stanley: piano notes in the music room play tunes without the presence of the living and former workers return to their posts for years following their deaths. The hotel has gone so far as to even hire a paranormal investigator who leads the monthly ghost hunts and eerily claims that the Stanley has, “more nights with activity than without.” Turn on the TV and tune into a 24 hour loop of The Shining on one of the cable channels if you’re not sufficiently weirded out.
The Extra Creepy Factor: Stephen King encountered a young child playing during his stay at the Stanley, despite no records of guests with children at the time. Celebrations continue long into the night at the hotel and rooms 217 and 418 have both been named as a playground for some particularly stubborn spirits.
1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS
The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is an opulent property in the Ozarks which has staked a claim as the most haunted hotel in America. When the original hotel went bankrupt, it became a college until 1908 when things took a dark turn and the hotel became a fake cancer hospital. Norman Baker tacked a Dr. in front of his name and used the hospital as a front for a variety of sick medical experiments while charging money for useless treatments to the ill. He was sent to jail when his plot was uncovered but his spirit remains on the ground, as does that of a stone mason who goes by the nickname “Michael,” according to staff. Other ghosts include students, nurses and patients — it’s hard to get away from the afterlife party happening at the hotel.
The Extra Creepy Factor: Guests have complained that they awoke to find all their clothes strewn around the room, hearing crying from the ceilings and seeing people standing behind them when the look in the mirror…only to see no one is behind them.
The Place d’Armes Hotel
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
New Orleans likely takes the cake for having more ghosts than any other city in America — easy to understand when the dead buried here outnumber the living 10-1. The land on which the lovely Place D’Armes Hotel stands was unfortunately the site of a horrible school fire in the 1800s. The building may have been rebuilt to the structure which still stands today, but the spirits of several students and teachers who perished still linger. Phantom footsteps echo in the pretty courtyard and furniture moves around freely in unoccupied rooms.
The Extra Creepy Factor: Beware the little girl who asks where her grandmother is — she’ll disappear before you can figure out what’s going on. These ghosts might not be malicious but there is an air of unfinished business lingering over the property.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
A different sort of ghost haunts the Hollywood Roosevelt and it’s one you know by name: Marilyn Monroe. Many have reported that her spirit still lingers in her former home and glimpses of the blonde bombshell have appeared in her old full length mirror, which is now located in the gift shop but used to stand in her favorite room, a second floor Cabana Room, #246. Room 928 has another member of Hollywood royalty sticking around–Montgomery Clift once stayed there while filming From Here to Eternity and guests have reported hearing someone moving around their room at night while they sleep.
The Extra Creepy Factor: The Blossom Ballroom, site of the first ever Academy Awards ceremony, allegedly has a cold spot which is supposed to depict the presence of a ghost. Not only that, but the ballroom has also been the site of many orb sightings, supposedly a spirit which shows up on both film and digital photos.
More hotel inspiration from Room5:
Featured image courtesy of Toa Heftiba, Unsplash