There are haunted houses — like the fabricated kinds designed for entertainment when Halloween comes around each year. And then there are haunted houses — hotels, inns, lodges and various other sites that many believe are inhabited by otherworldly beings. Some say they don’t believe in ghosts, but if we had to bet, we’d guess a stay at one of these seriously spooky shelters might just change their minds.
We were even made aware of an old castle in Ohio where ghost sightings are frequently reported and whose owners shared possible photographic evidence of such (see photo to the left and read more here). We’ll let you be the judge, though.
Whether you’re entirely skeptical or a believer who can’t wait to book a spooky stay, from New York to California, here’s a look at some of the country’s most haunted hotels.
The entire village of Deerfield is a National Historic Landmark with more than 300 years of preserved history, including some of its original inhabitants who reportedly still hang around town. Almost every building on Main Street is thought to be haunted by at least one spirit and in particular, the Deerfield Inn is said to be the home of two ghosts —Cora Carlisle, an owner of the Inn during the early 20th century and Hershel, who is believed to be a former frequent guest. Guests and staff have reported both seeing and hearing Cora near her former living room and apparently Hershel likes to haunt rom 148. Those who’ve encountered him say he slips under the door and appears in a bright box of light that eventually diminishes and bounces around the room.
Characterized by ominous lion statues and spooky stone walls that lead to its entrance, without even stepping inside, Punderson Manor immediately gives off a creepy vibe. An overnight stay here, though, will prove that this lodge’s spookiness goes way beyond the surface. There have been handfuls of reports detailing paranormal activity, but perhaps the most terrifying account came from three employees in 1979 who all recounted seeing an apparition dressed like a lumberjack hanging by the neck from a rope in the room that is now the manor’s lounge. They said they watched the image for nearly three hours until the sun rose and it finally faded away.
The cigar-smoking nun, Sister George, who reportedly haunts the Inn and Spa at Loretto is referred to as a “contemporary ghost” since she died in 1976. Still she’s a ghost just the same and reports of her presence date back to the late 1970s. No one knows for sure if the living Sister George actually smoked stogies, but it’s believed that her ghostly spirit does since most have reported the smell of cigar smoke when paranormal occurrences — like levitating clothing racks, flickering lights and even an interaction with a young child who the Sister evidentially handed a necklace to — take place.
This recently-built castle may not have a whole lot of history, but apparently the land it was built on does, and its owners take advantage of the spooky surroundings by offering guests the opportunity to participate in ghost walks and hunts. Previous visitors have reported seeing a girl wearing a blue dress in the graveyard, crying noises in the pool and cemetery at night, and even sightings of Civil War era soldiers in their rooms. Plus, just the way one blogger described getting to the castle’s location sounds like the beginning of a terrifying horror story. “Though it’s only located about four miles from a main road, you’ll feel as though you may be lost before you finally see the sign, confirming that you are in the right place,” Tonya Prater wrote on The Traveling Praters. Not to mention, according to the owners, the photo pictured here was confirmed authentic by the cast of Ghost Hunters on SyFy.
Built in 1911, this Texas hotel has a storied past, but one part of its history that has become somewhat of a focal point is the story of room 505 where, reportedly, a female guest hung herself after receiving news that her husband had died. Now referred to as the “lovelorn lady,” it’s said she creates quite a commotion on the hotel’s fifth floor. There have also been reports of violently shaking stall doors, toilets that flush and sinks that turn on by themselves, and the unusual scent of gardenias in the downstairs women’s restroom. Paranormal investigators have previously captured photographic evidence of activity at Hotel Galvez and it now offers seasonal ghost tours.
This Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts hotel’s sixth floor is reportedly haunted by Mary Curry Tressider, who played a large role in the development of the building and lived in an apartment there until she died in 1970. Cindy Walker, a director at Tauck, a leading provider of worldwide tours and cruises, refused to stay on the sixth floor after having had several strange encounters there. Furthermore, some believe that President John F. Kennedy haunts the hotel’s third floor. Reportedly, when he visited in 1962 a rocking chair was placed in his room because it helped alleviate his back pain. After his death, and despite the fact that no rocking chair had ever been placed in the room following the President’s visit, housekeepers at the hotel began recounting the presence of a rocking chair, rocking slowly in the room where he had stayed.
Walker also reported having a strange experience at the Grand Canyon Lodge while traveling with a colleague, Jim Hahn, during the development phase of Tauck’s “Spirit of the Desert” tour. While lodging in guest cabin number 328 she was awakened when the cabin’s phone rang at 3:33 a.m. When she answered, no one was there. The next morning Jim called her cell phone and said he couldn’t get through to her cabin’s landline — when Cindy checked it, she was spooked to find the phone was unplugged. When she told the front desk her story the attendant said, “Yeah, it’s probably the ghost.” Furthermore, the next time Walker visited the lodge she overheard another guest who happened to be staying in cabin 328 complain about the phone ringing at 3:30 a.m.
First opened in 1886, this old hotel has a grand history of many unexplainable and mysterious happenings, and some even call it America’s Most Haunted Hotel. When they first purchased the hotel in 1997, Marty and Elise Roenigk knew they were inheriting a “confused association with the paranormal.” But instead of ignoring it, they hired two certified mediums to “read” the building and their findings, combined with an uncanny amount of sightings that had been recorded over the hotel’s history, eventually became the basis for what was developed into the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours that take place nightly.
Built on the site of a 19th century railroad station where a horrific train crash took place in 1918, many people believe the tragic event is what led ghosts to reportedly haunt the Union Station Hotel. Both guests and employees of the hotel, which is now part of Autograph Collection Hotels, have reported seeing various ghostly figures — a young man wearing a World War II uniform, a woman in blood-stained, torn-up clothes and a lady who supposedly throws herself off the third floor balcony.
Contrastingly dubbed “the most beautiful small town in America,” Bardstown is also known for the many ghostly entities that reportedly haunt its historic locales. Of particular note is the six-room Jailer’s Inn. Once a jail where prisoners were hung to death at the gallows, now it’s a bed and breakfast and one of the top stops on the two-hour guided tours hosted by Bardstown Ghost Treks. World-renowned certified ghost hunter Patti Starr leads the tours and says Bardstown is easily one of the most haunted locations she’s ever encountered.
The site of this hotel was reportedly once an orphanage and its Grand Lodge was once a rest home for Freemasons and their widows. A well-known ghostly resident here is called the Lavender Lady, as a strong scent of lavender is said to saturate a room when she is present. Plus, past guests have reported many other paranormal experiences, so much so that the hotel provides a “ghost log” at the front desk where guests can record their stories.
This historic hotel, also part of Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, has many accounts of haunted happenings. In particular, the fifth floor, which previously held the staff quarters, is said to be especially creepy. Guests and staff members have reported unexplained noises, chilly breezes in closed-off rooms and cold spots assumed to be spirits. Plus, there are plenty of more specific stories from hotel employees, like one who went to the attic to adjust light fixtures on the roof only to find they had turned back on by themselves. After turning around to investigate, he saw the face of an old woman staring back at him from the window on the roof.