“Any big hotels have got scandals. Just like every big hotel has got a ghost … Hotels are superstitious places.” — Stephen King
These famous lines from novelist Stephen King set off visions of old hotels with long, abandoned corridors, flickering lights, spooky shadows and bursts of unexplained cold air. They also inspired us to round up a list of spooky stays that we think are worth the chills and thrills each claim to provide.
Just in time for Halloween, our list of haunted hotels extends from coast to coast, each one teeming with stories of spirits to keep guests company while meeting there with a group.
Whether guests are fans of fright or modern-day ghost hunters, we advise entering at their own risk when it comes to making a reservation with any of our picks below.
CLIMB ABOARD THE GHOST SHIP: THE QUEEN MARY HOTEL
Docked off the port of Long Beach, California, the Queen Mary is a luxury ocean liner that, during the 1930s, transported people including Winston Churchill and Clark Gable across the Atlantic.
Now serving as a floating hotel and popular meeting and event venue, the Travel Channel states that it’s haunted by as many as 150 different spirits, including a crew member who was crushed to death and a woman in all-white who dances by herself. The ship’s 1,001 transatlantic crossings were home to 49 recorded deaths, giving some merit to the haunting reports.
B Deck is where guests can make a reservation among 347 staterooms and suites. Hallways on B Deck feature authentic wood paneling and burgundy carpet—a classic matchup that somehow always ends up giving off eerie vibes to historic spaces. Rooms on Queen Mary feature operable portholes that offer ocean views, 1930s artwork and an Art Deco decor that gives guests a glimpse into the past.
If brave enough, ask for Stateroom B340, the most haunted on the ship for thrill seekers. It has a large volume of recorded paranormal activity, with reports dating as far back as 1967. Amenities include a Ouija board, tarot cards and a crystal ball to amplify your stay.
SPOOKIEST STAY IN AMERICA?: CRESCENT HOTEL AND SPA
Featured nationally on Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channel, the Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has been dubbed by some as America’s Most Haunted Hotel.
A go-to for groups heading to the destination, the historic hotel, built in 1886, is set in the Ozark Mountains and has quite the background. What started out as a hotel that featured a handsome stable full of horses eventually turned into a women’s college, then a hospital that was ran by a fraudulent “doctor” and back to a hotel.
Its spooky haunts include reports of flickering lights, pounding on the walls, sounds of a man falling into the ceiling and even hands coming out of the bathroom mirror—no thanks.
A $5 million renovation in September 2002 fully restored the hotel to its former glory, incorporating Victorian interior design with modern convenience. When making a reservation in one of the building’s 72 guest rooms and 12 luxury suites, ask for Michael’s room, as it’s the hotel’s most requested (and most haunted).
And, if you’re already looking to make plans in 2020, the hotel hosts an annual Eureka Springs Paranormal weekend in early January—perhaps a good time for groups to get in on the haunted action.
BEWITCHED BED AND BREAKFAST: THE LEMP MANSION RESTAURANT & INN
What was once a stately mansion and brewery office to the Lemp family in St. Louis, is now a bed and breakfast that offers four guest rooms, hosts private events and offers Mystery Dinner Theater evenings that groups can book. Built in the 1860s, the original structure was a 33-bedroom house that underwent several renovations and expansions, making it a striking Victorian home.
Its owners, various members of the Lemp family, dominated the St. Louis beer market before the Prohibition era. Many say it’s haunted by members of the Lemp family, four of whom committed suicide within its walls.
Several of the original details still remain in the bed and breakfast, including iron gates, a decorative mantle made of Italian marble in the former brewery office, and a parlor featuring a hand-painted ceiling and intricately carved mantles of African mahogany.
ROOM 217, PLEASE: THE STANLEY HOTEL
Overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, CO, The Stanley Hotel is a familiar sight for those who enjoy classic horror. As the inspiration for Stephen King’s 1977 book, The Shining, later adapted for the big screen, the Stanley Hotel is famous for both its old-world charm and creepy haunts.
The 142-room structure opened July 4, 1909, and still runs strong today, particularly for groups, with several meeting spaces that include its new 300-seat, 19,000-square-foot Pavilion amphitheater.
Following the publication and subsequent film adaptation of The Shining, The Stanley Hotel gained a reputation of being haunted. Stories include children running the halls, lights turning on and off, and mysterious piano music played late at night.
Originally built as a Colonial Revival style, the current Stanley Hotel features historic hotel rooms, updated boutique rooms, apartment-style studio suites and condominium residences. While room 217 is the most iconic suite (Stephen King stayed there in 1974), other ghost hunter favorites include rooms 401, 407 and 428.
The Stanley also offers the legendary Night Spirit Tour. Boo!
A HIGH-PROFILE HAUNT: HOTEL CHELSEA
Located in New York City, Hotel Chelsea—or simply the Chelsea—was primarily known for its high-profile guests throughout its prime years. Built in the 1880s, the Chelsea’s doors welcomed numerous artists, actors, musicians and writers throughout its 250 units, but high-profile guests led to high profile scandals.
The hotel has been the site of infamous celebrity deaths such as that of poet and writer Dylan Thomas and musician Sid Vicious’ girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Along with seeing their ghosts, guests claim to have personal items moved, feel random cold and hot spots, and hear untouched drawers and windows open.
The hotel is closed for renovations and is gearing up for a reopening. It will consist of 125 to 130 rooms, including hotel rooms, 30 new one- and two-bedroom rentals and 50 apartments for current tenants. It will feature private event space, a restaurant, lobby lounge, greenhouse and rooftop gym and spa.