Image: Photo illustration, Hotel Monteleone
Photo illustration by Hotel Monteleone
In the late 1800s Josephine and Jacques Begere were staying at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans and left their son with the nanny. When they returned to the hotel the horse was startled and sent Jacques flying from the buggy, killing him instantly. Josephine died within a year. Guests have reported seeing the couple’s son Maurice roaming the halls of the 14th floor looking for his parents.
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updated 10/29/2007 2:47:21 PM ET 2007-10-29T18:47:21

In the early Thirties, a young woman is to be married in the Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, California. Her fiancé leaves her at the altar, and that night she hangs herself in the hotel's basement. Today guests report hearing high-heeled footsteps against hardwood floors ... even though the hotel is carpeted.

Every hotel has its ghosts. It's just that some are more extroverted than others.

“It’s a common thing to hear about,” says Erik Torkells, author of "Secret Hotels". “Hotels have these marvelous histories. Thousands of people have gone through them. You’re perpetually aware of that. And sometimes traveling, especially alone, can be unnerving.”

Some hotel ghost stories are tales of lost love, like the ethereal couple who walks hand in hand on the beach outside of Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg. Others hint at otherworldly pranksters, like the former waitress who snatches spoons at the General Morgan Inn in Tennessee.

The Rosario Resort in Washington State used to be the private home of California businessman Donald Rheem, who hoped the isolated location in the San Juan Islands would contain his wife Alice. But she continued to lead an eccentric life—playing cards with the boys and wandering around the village in her red nightgown. Employees and guests have reported seeing strange shapes and hearing mysterious footsteps.

“A lot of times these spirits have something to do with the hotel’s history,” says Mary Billingsly with the Historic Hotels of America. “They may be former owners or people who walked through the doors or were related to the property in some way.”

Those involved are both famous and unknown. Guests at the Equinox Hotel in Manchester, Vermont report seeing Mary Todd Lincoln and her son, both frequent visitors to the hotel during their lives. Other stories involve mason workers, chambermaids and the everyday employees and guests who filled the hotels.

In 1940, for example, a guest at California's Paso Robles Inn discovered a fire on the second floor of the hotel. He rushed downstairs, sounded the alarm and then died of a heart attack. But his actions led to all of the hotel's guests being evacuated. Today, the front desk receives mysterious calls from room 1007 and one night there was a call placed to 911 from the unoccupied room.

Image: Crescent Hotel, Arkansas
© 1886 Crescent Hotel Archives
The Crescent Hotel in Arkansas is chock-full of stories, and they run a ghost tour year round. One story involves a mason worker who helped build the hotel. He plunged to his death in what is now Room 218 and guest have witnessed hands coming out of bathroom mirrors and doors slamming shut. Other tales from the hotel involve a fake doctor and the hospital he set up in the basement of the hotel.
Some ghost stories are the result of more violent tragedies. Sally White, a former chambermaid at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, was killed by her husband and her spirit lingers at the hotel. Other accounts are more peaceful. When the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver was renovating, the switchboard kept getting calls from room 409. The room, however, was completely stripped; there was no phone, no bed, nothing. When the hotel’s tour guide stopped talking about Louise Crawford Hill, the room’s former occupant, the phone calls stopped.

For her part Billingsly hasn’t had an encounter with hotel poltergeists, but after hearing so many tales told so persuasively she’s convinced that some hotels really are haunted.

“I was a skeptic when I started this and I’m not anymore,” says Billingsly.

Video: Book a room at this haunted hotel

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