Founded in 1989, the Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation aiming at maintaining hotels’ authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity. The historic hotels release a 2021 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Haunted Hotels list with locations for ghost tales of Revolutionary War soldiers, jilted lovers, unexplained footsteps, as well as friendly spectral bellhops.
For believers and skeptics alike, these hair-raising tales add another unique facet to each prestigious historic hotel on the list presented here. Adventure seekers in search of “a room with a boo” and heritage travelers interested in a local legend need look no further than the grand hotels, legendary luxury resorts, and iconic hotels found across the United States in Historic Hotels of America.
1. Concord’s Colonial Inn (1716) Concord, Massachusetts
During the Revolutionary War, part of the historic inn was privately owned by Dr. Timothy Minot, and where he operated a small medical practice. When American Colonial soldiers were injured at the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the North Bridge, they were brought to his home for medical attention.
Dr. Minot used what is now the Liberty Room as a hospital and Room 24 as an operating room. Many guests who have spent the night in the infamously haunted room have reported some strange activity. A young girl wearing a bonnet has been seen walking around by the front desk of the hotel.
2. The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia
Being widely known for its more than 250 years of grand hospitality and as a favorite vacation spot for European royalty and former U.S. presidents and their families, it should come as no surprise that a guest or two of The Omni Homestead Resort might decide to stay forever.
One of the resort’s most legendary spirits involves the spirit of a jilted bride who stalks along the 14th floor. The hotel will host a Mystery Weekend ahead of Halloween 2021, where guests are invited to don their favorite Halloween costume and enjoy a weekend of Halloween cocktails and fine dining, along with light-hearted games, and searching for spirits.
3. The Red Lion Inn (1773) Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Ghostly rumors swirl around the Red Lion Inn, which has been visited by many paranormal investigators and mediums hoping to connect with guests from centuries past. The fourth floor in particular has been said to have the most paranormal activity and Guestroom 301 is also known to be a haunted hot spot. Housekeepers, staff, and guests have claimed to see a “ghostly young girl carrying flowers” and “a man in a top hat.”
4. The Sayre Mansion (1858) Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Employees and guests report experiencing tugs at their clothing that cannot be explained, as well as television sets that mysteriously turn off. A maintenance tech was alone repairing a toilet when a small washer suddenly disappeared and ended up across the room under the bathmat.
It seems a playful ghost wanted to start a game of hide and seek! The standing theory is that these playful spirits are the ghosts of children, because the Sayre Mansion saw more than its fair share of tragedy in its early days
5. 1886 Crescent Hotel (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Among several restless spirits believed to haunt the Crescent Hotel is Theodora. In the 1930s, the hotel was a hospital for the treatment of cancer patients. Unfortunately, a con man, “Dr.” Norman Baker, claimed to be a licensed physician and charged unsuspecting families their life savings to “treat” patients in his hospital.
Tour guides, hotel staff, and guests alike allege that Theodora, one of Baker’s patients who passed away on-site, makes her presence known by folding guests’ clothes, organizing their closet or arranging personal items that had been scattered around the room.
6. Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana
Hotel Monteleone has developed a reputation over the years as being one of the most haunted places in New Orleans, a city widely appreciated for its gothic charm. The most famous of these tales involves that of a young boy named Maurice who stayed at the hotel with his family during the 1890s.
On one such night, the Begeres decided to stay at the Hotel Monteleone before departing for the French Opera House. While under the care of his nanny, the young child developed a fever and passed away. According to legend, the parents did not have to wait long to see the apparition of Maurice.
7. Jekyll Island Club Resort (1887) Jekyll Island, Georgia
The Jekyll Island Club Resort has seen many families come and go since it opened in 1887. Since that time, there have been seven different ghosts that have been reported to haunt this resort. One story is about a ghostly bellman who regularly delivers a freshly pressed suit to a soon to be married groom. Another story is about the ghost of a former president who walks along the veranda at sunset.
8. Hotel del Coronado (1888) Coronado, California
Kate Morgan, age 24, arrived at Hotel del Coronado on Thanksgiving Day in 1892, alone and unhappy. According to hotel employees, she said she was waiting for a gentleman to join her. After five lonely days, Kate took her own life.
At the time of her death, police could find nothing to positively identify her, so a description of the woman was telegraphed to police agencies around the country. As a result, newspapers began to refer to her as the “beautiful stranger.” Eventually, she was identified as Kate Morgan, a domestic worker in a wealthy Los Angeles household.
9. The Union Station Nashville Yards (1900) Nashville, Tennessee
One of Nashville’s most iconic landmarks, The Union Station Nashville Yards resides in a building that previously served as the city’s buzzing railway station. Guests are reminded of the building’s rich history through another kind of encounter: with the hotel’s resident ghost, Abigail.
Legend has it that during the World War II era, a young woman, Abigail, said goodbye to her soldier on the Union Station train platform before he shipped off to France. When she arrived at that same spot to greet him on his return, she was told that he had been killed in action. Distraught, Abigail threw herself in front of a passing locomotive.
10. Omni Mount Washington Resort (1902) Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Known affectionately by Omni Mount Washington Resort staff members as “The Princess,” Carolyn Foster Stickney was a long-time inhabitant of the hotel – and perhaps still is.Visions of an elegant woman in Victorian dress are often spotted in the hallways of the hotel, and there are light taps on doors when no one is outside.
Objects within the guestrooms will also suddenly disappear and then reappear in the exact place they were lost. But perhaps the most common sighting of the beloved Carolyn is in Room 314, where guests report seeing a vision of the woman sitting at the edge of the opulent four-poster bed – on which Carolyn herself used to slumber.
11. Mizpah Hotel (1907) Tonopah, Nevada
Built in 1907, the Mizpah Hotel is believed by many to be home to several ghostly figures. Many guests report witnessing one of the former bellhops roaming the halls of the hotel in a vain attempt to give a hand with the luggage. Another paranormal legend involves three miners who once attempted to rob the hotel in the 19th century.
12. The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina
Since the mid-twentieth century, travelers and residents have come to believe in a ghost who roams the hallways of Asheville’s historic Omni Grove Park Inn. A strange but gentle spirit residing within the gray, granite walls and known simply as the “Pink Lady,” has been seen, felt and experienced by hotel employees and guests for nearly a century.
The Pink Lady has been generally described as a dense pinkish smoke, although some report the mist materializing into the shape of a young woman donned in a pink ballgown.
13. Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel (1915) Berkeley, California
Over the years, the Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel, has built a cherished reputation for its luxury accommodations, beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, pampering spa services – and for being one of the most haunted places in California. From reports of phantom elevators to eerie disembodied voices, the resort has been the source of countless paranormal tales for generations.
14. La Posada de Santa Fe (1882) Santa Fe, New Mexico
The first sighting of Julia Staab’s ghost at La Posada de Santa Fe was reported in 1979. A janitor was mopping when he noticed a woman in a black Victorian dress with her hair pulled back into a severe bun. This was followed by several more stories of resort staff noticing the same woman, disappearing as suddenly as she appeared.
Julia Staab was the wife of Abraham Staab, the wealthy merchant who built the original three-story brick mansion on the site of the current resort. Julia passed away at the age of 52 in 1896. But while her body had expired, many who lived in the house over the years believed that her spirit had not.
15. The Emily Morgan San Antonio – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (1924) San Antonio, Texas
According to various reports, some given by the hotel’s own management team, the most haunted floors are the seventh, ninth, and fourteenth floors. It was these floors that at one time functioned as the psychiatric ward, surgery level, waiting area and morgue, respectively.
At The Emily Morgan, almost all the paranormal reports involve ghosts and spirits from when the building was a hospital. Guests have reported strange things occurring on these levels.
16. Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Massachusetts
The colonial seaport town of Salem is notorious for the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, and the historic Hawthorne Hotel is prone to hauntings and spirits of its own. Often ranked as one of the most haunted hotels in America, its guests have reported moving furniture, sightings of a ghostly woman, and unexplained noises. Many of its hauntings are attributed to the sea captains who were returning to their gathering place.
17. Hotel Viking (1926) Newport, Rhode Island
Hotel Viking was built by the community, for the community, and entirely through community investment at the height of the roaring twenties. This civic undertaking helped keep Newport and its people afloat through wars and recessions by offering the same thing in 1926 as it does today: a genuine sense of belonging for both visitors and residents alike. Perhaps it is this sense of belonging that keeps guests checked in long after they checked out. Hotel Viking has had many guests and staff members report paranormal experiences.
18. Hotel Saranac, Curio Collection by Hilton (1927) Saranac Lake, New York
Goblins, ghouls, spirits, and specters all promise to be wandering the streets of Saranac Lake on Halloween night. Of course, most will be children dressed in costume for the occasion. But deep in the heart of the Hotel Saranac, there may be a sighting of a distinguished man dressed in a black suit with tails and top hat.
Believers think the man is Howard Littell. And, no, he is not in costume. Saranac Lake’s high school once stood on the grounds where the Hotel Saranac currently is located and the dearly departed Littell was the superintendent of schools for close to 35 years. Littell was known for roaming the high school’s hallways and keeping the students in line.
19. Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center (1927) Baton Rouge, Louisiana
It has long been reported by staff that the tenth floor of the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center is haunted by the ghost of the infamous politician Huey P. Long. Known as the most colorful politician from Louisiana, the infamous Huey P. Long’s favorite saying was, “Every man is a King.”
His dream was to become the President of the United States and, while governor, he built a mansion that resembled the White House. The spirit of Long is thought to walk the 10th floor at a leisurely pace, puffing away on a cigar. Reports claim he will look in a guest’s direction and then fade away when acknowledged, extremely polite and well-mannered.
20. The Don CeSar (1928) St. Pete Beach, Florida
Over the years there have been a number of reported “sightings” and strange occurrences at this historic hotel. The most common presence felt through the building is that of Mr. Thomas Rowe, the man who brought the Don CeSar to life and is the focal point of the love story surrounding the hotel.
While there have been reporting of various spirits or ghostly sightings, the most popular spirit to be reported is that of a gentleman, presumably Rowe, in a white linen summer suit and a Panama hat. He is said to be accompanied at times by a raven-haired beauty in a white flowing dress wandering the grounds of his hotel.
21. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (1927) Sonoma, California
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa welcomes guests past and present, believing that their ghosts haunt where they were happiest. The Inn’s tenured employees will testify that when the evenings are still and the fog rolls in from the San Francisco Bay, a beautiful woman has been seen strolling the hallways of the Inn in period dress: Victoria.
22. Hassayampa Inn (1927) Prescott, Arizona
With a variety of experiences reported in the century since it opened, Hassayampa Inn has a reputation as an active haunt. Most of its paranormal tales involve a ghost that many have called “Faith.” Legend has it that in 1927, “Faith” and her newlywed husband checked into the Hassayampa Inn on their honeymoon.
On their first night, her beloved husband left to supposedly purchase a pack of cigarettes but he never returned. Many tales today abound of how disembodied crying occurs throughout the inn, as well as the strange disappearance of random objects.
23. Tubac Golf Resort and Spa (1959) Tubac, Arizona
The history of the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa can be traced back over four centuries to a young man named Don Toribio de Otero. Generations of Oteros lived on the ranch before it was reinvented as a resort in the 1950s. Harkening back to the days of the Otero family, residents have claimed to hear, see, and experience unexplainable activity. In recent decades, resort guests have reported at least four unique ghosts including a boy, a lady in gray, a very active gentleman spirit, and a cowboy.
24. The Wort Hotel (1941) Jackson, Wyoming
The Wort Hotel is home to a friendly, mischievous ghost named Bob, a former engineer at the Hotel who likes to play tricks on his successors. Robert “Bob” Tomingas took a job as The Wort Hotel’s maintenance engineer in 1950. Bob was a mechanical genius, and over the course of his career he rebuilt the hotel’s heating, water, and electrical systems. During the winter nights in the 1950s when the temperature would drop below zero and the hotel’s overworked boiler would begin to act up, Bob would arrive in the middle of the night to nurse the system along.
25. The Seelbach Hilton Louisville (1905) Louisville, Kentucky
On a cold winter day in 1987, as the chef at The Seelbach Hilton Louisville was preparing waffles and omelets for Sunday Brunch, he looked out toward the number 3 elevator, and to his surprise, he saw a lady with long dark hair in a blue chiffon dress walk inside. This would be unremarkable except that she walked through the closed elevator doors. He reported what he observed to security immediately and within minutes of his report, a housekeeper from the second floor reported seeing the very same lady.