October is here, and that means Halloween is on its way! If shorter, cooler days and colorful falling leaves put you in the mood for a ghoulish getaway, a stay in one of Historic Hotels of America’s newly announced 2023 Top 25 Most Haunted Hotels may scratch that itch. Some historic hotels offer visitors more than beautiful architecture and a sense of history: Many of these locations offer haunting tales of local legends of the souls of those who checked in… but never checked out.
Representing more than 300 historic hotels, Historic Hotels of America® is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. To be nominated and selected for membership into the program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.
“The spirits reported to reside within these Historic Hotels of America have been described as sad to happy, shy to friendly, slowly meandering to in a rush, in casual coveralls to elegant finery and range from young to old,” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Vice President, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Some pre-date the construction of the hotel and others figure prominently from the early years of the historic hotels. More than mere ghost stories, these enduring legends contribute to the unique qualities of the inns, resorts, and hotels of Historic Hotels of America.”
So, if you’re in search of a haunted adventure this Halloween, consider checking out (or into) one of the 25 historic hotels that made this year’s most haunted list! Here’s a closer look at five of our favorites:
The Sayre Mansion (1858) Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
The spirits at The Sayre Mansion in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, reportedly have mischievous natures. 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 as if 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. The Sayre Family moved into their Gothic Revival-style Victorian mansion in Bethlehem’s prestigious Fountain Hill in 1858. Of the family’s 12 children, eight survived into adulthood with six drawing their last breath at the family home. A paranormal investigation several years ago detected supernatural activity in several areas around the mansion. Throughout the year, including during the Halloween season, The Sayre Mansion hosts a Paranormal Experience. The overnight stay features a catered dinner in the mansion’s refurbished basement, and a paranormal presentation and investigation led by a team of ghost hunters. The Sayre Mansion also periodically offers Ghost Tours.
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. The child’s parents were avid theatergoers and regularly visited the French Opera House located along Bourbon Street. But since Maurice was just a toddler at the time, the two often left him in the care of a nurse whenever they went out.
2023 Top 25 Most Haunted Hotels
- Concord’s Colonial Inn (1716) Concord, Massachusetts
- The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia
- Historic Inns of Annapolis (1772) Annapolis, Maryland
- The Red Lion Inn (1773) Stockbridge, Massachusetts
- The Sayre Mansion (1858) Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- The Menger Hotel (1859) San Antonio, Texas
- Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana
- 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- Jekyll Island Club Resort (1887) Jekyll Island, Georgia
- Casa Monica Resort & Spa (1888) St. Augustine, Florida
- Hotel del Coronado (1888) Coronado, California
- Airlie (1899) Warrenton, Virginia
- Omni Mount Washington (1902) Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
- Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina
- Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel (1915) Berkeley, California
- La Fonda on the Plaza (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico
- The Emily Morgan San Antonio – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (1924) San Antonio, Texas
- Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Massachusetts
- The Hotel Viking (1926) Newport, Rhode Island
- Hotel Saranac, Curio Collection by Hilton (1927) Saranac Lake, New York
- The Hassayampa Inn (1927) Prescott, Arizona
- Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center (1927) Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (1927) Sonoma, California
- The Wort Hotel (1941) Jackson, Wyoming
- Tubac Golf Resort and Spa (1959) Tubac, Arizona
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. Grief-stricken, the couple returned to the hotel in hopes of spotting the spirit of their beloved Maurice. According to legend, the parents did not have to wait long to see the apparition of Maurice. The boy supposedly appeared before his mother, proclaiming: “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m fine.” The experience left the mother in tears, happy to know that her boy was at peace. Many guests have also reported running into his spirit on the 14th floor. Along with Maurice, a maid, known as “Mrs. Clean” reportedly haunts the hotel. Paranormal researchers once asked why she stayed, and the maid, whose mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother also worked at the hotel, said she was picking up after housekeeping to ensure high standards.
Jekyll Island Club Resort (1887) Jekyll Island, Georgia
The Jekyll Island Club Resort on Jekyll Island, Georgia, 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. Samuel Spencer, a club member who departed from this world under mysterious circumstances, is one of these ghosts. He is said to haunt his old rooms early in the morning, sipping coffee and reading the morning newspaper. Another ghost is a bellman dressed in a period uniform from the 1920s with a cap and suit and who is said to deliver freshly pressed suits to bridegrooms. More than one bridegroom, who had not ordered this service, has asked the hotel staff about the ghostly bellman. Another such encounter involves industrialist J.P. Morgan, who stayed at the resort’s Sans Souci building. Mr. Morgan was a lover of cigars. As the story goes, one could tell where he was by following the trail of smoke. To avoid criticism of his favorite hobby, he would rise by 5 a.m. every morning to have a smoke on the porch. Those who have stayed in the historic Morgan apartment swear they have awakened to the faint smell of cigar smoke wafting about when there is no one else awake.
Casa Monica Resort & Spa (1888) St. Augustine, Florida
Built as a labor of love and as an ode to Moorish architecture by Franklin W. Smith, this majestic St. Augustine, Florida resort has been a landmark of the historic city since 1888. Unfortunately for Smith, financial troubles forced him to sell the hotel to his business rival after only a year in operation—a dream ending in despair. In 1911, Smith died in anonymity and poverty. Did his spirit return to haunt his beloved Casa Monica Resort & Spa? Some guests and staff believe it did.
From glowing lights on the 3rd floor and mischievous pillow fights in rooms staged for photography, it was decided a paranormal expert was needed. A local tour guide accompanied a medium to witness the haunting, and on the top floor of the Kessler Suite, the medium reported seeing a man with big bushy sideburns pacing back and forth. She encouraged the tour guide to approach the man who was clearly in despair. The guide only remembers being completely frozen, a feeling unlike any other she had felt in 10 years of tours, and a confusing vision of broken tiles crashing outside the window. Later, while researching the history of the hotel, they discovered that not only did the medium describe the physical characteristics of Franklin W. Smith, but he would have been heartbroken to know that the building’s original terracotta roof had been replaced. Perhaps after a life full of hardships, Franklin W. Smith is trapped in the home of his greatest heartbreak.
Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Massachusetts
The Colonial seaport town of Salem, Massachusetts 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. Named after well-known resident and author Nathaniel Hawthorne, many of the hotel’s hauntings are attributed to the sea captains who were returning to their gathering place. According to lore, Room 325 is the most haunted room in the hotel, where guests have claimed to feel cold spots and smell fresh-cut flowers. Guests staying in Room 612, as well as on the sixth floor in general, have reported witnessing a ghostly woman walking the halls. Rooms 621 and 325 have also had reports of lights and faucets turning off and on. In 1990, the hotel held a séance in the Grand Ballroom to try and contact Harry Houdini. In 2007, SyFy’s popular paranormal show, Ghost Hunters, visited the hotel to investigate. Established in 1925 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1991, Hawthorne Hotel was ranked #9 in the USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2023 Best Haunted Hotel contest.