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Haunted Hotels in America

Updated on October 23, 2011

Welcome to "The Overlook"

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado | Source
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado | Source

Stanley Hotel, Estes, Colorado

One of the absolutely most famous haunted hotels in America is the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado. Stephen King, a world-renowned writer famous for his horror fiction, based his book and Kubrick's movie, The Shining, on this world-class haunted hotel. He didn't write the book at this hotel; he ony stayed there for one night, but that one night was enough to give him the basic outline for one of the most haunted and haunting tales ever written. Stephen King was living in Boulder, Colorado at the time, and most of the book, The Shining, was written in Boulder.This most haunted hotel in America made Mr. King a FORTUNE!

The hauntings at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado were the subject of paranormal interest and psychic experimentation long before Stephen King stayed one night there, at a time when the hotel was almost empty and about to close down.

The ghosts, for the most part, seem harmless. The ghost of the founder of the hotel, FO Stanley, who invented the Stanley Steamer automobile, rambles the corridors with his wife, Flora. Flora also still plays the piano in the ballroom, though both she and her husband have been dead for many years. Present day guests see the piano keys moving and hear faintly delightful music from a bygone era; there is no one at the piano but the ghostly Flora, who most often remains unseen. It is a much "friendlier" haunted hotel than the book or movie makes it seem.

The Stanley Hotel, built early in the 20th century and opened on July 4, 1909, has seen many famous guests come and go, including Theodore Roosevelt, and the Emperor of Japan. There have been some famous Hollywood actors and actresses visiting, as well as John Phillips Sousa, the man who wrote the marching music. The temporary home of both the famous, and, may we say, sometimes the infamous, this hotel has a particular resonance; its corridors are packed with the memories of a bygone era; the ballroom, especially, carries you into the flavor of another time. This great American hotel is most truly haunted by the past.

The fourth floor of this hotel seems to be haunted by the ghosts of many lively children, who are now long since in their graves. Employees and guests alike hear children playing, making noise as children do, running and bumping each other and laughing; whenever a person goes to investigate the sounds, there is no one there. Spooky enough, but what Mr. King made ot it! The ghosts of twin girls DO haunt this hotel. Were they murdered? No one knows.

When Stephen King and his wife stayed at this hotel in Room 217, he saw the ghost of a young boy crying out for his Nanny. When he and his wife came back from dinner, they noticed all their clothes had been unpacked from their suitcases and had been put away neatly into drawers or hung in the closet. There was no one available to perform this service; the event remains unexplained to this day, and there have been other sightings of a chambermaid in room 217 vanishing before a guest's very eyes.

Many guests have experienced presences which appear suddenly before their eyes and then vanish. One lady guest was very startled to suddenly see a man at the foot of her bed, who, when he noticed the lady occupant of the room, threw up his hands and ran into the closet, where he vanished.

For this most haunted hotel in America, the ghosts are still lively and the New Year's Eve party is still going on.

The Sagamore

Sagamore Hotel, Bolton Landing, NY
Sagamore Hotel, Bolton Landing, NY

Next on the list of the most haunted hotels in America is definitely the Sagamore hotel, located at the edge of Lake George on a private island called Green Island, in the Adirondack mountains of New York State. It's a beautiful hotel, a gorgeous Victorian-style mansion of a hotel, built in 1882 and rebuilt after being damaged by fire in 1920 by the very prominent architect, Robert Rheinlander. It was a vacation location for many of America's rich and famous for many years; like Martha's Vineyard or Palm Beach, Florida. Eventually, as it lost its panache to America's wealthy jet set, the Sagamore fell into disuse and disrepair.

Norman Wolgin, an entrepreneur, builder and developer, bought the property in 1983, and restored it to its former glory, also adding the more modern amenities; the golf course, the guest condominiums. Though listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it remains in private hands, now owned by Ocean Properties, Ltd, out of Delray Beach, Florida.

Though many apparitions have been sighted at various locations on the property, the most frequent ghostly visitors seem to be hungry, because they are always going to the restaurants in the hotel.

One ghostly couple from the late 1800's floats down from the second floor, to take a seat in the reception area of the Trillium dining room, seeming to be waiting for a table, before vanishing completely. These two ghosts have been seen often by both guests and staff. No one minds very much; one waiter said he wished he could finally serve them dinner; perhaps they could then be at peace, at last. It is thought they are the very first guests of the hotel, who have never left it since.

Another ghostly guest, a tall golden lady wearing a white flowing evening gown, all on her own, also visited the Mr. Brown's dining room of the hotel. She roamed the room several times; a frequent visitor who never seemed to be able to settle anywhere in the room before vanishing mysteriously. One day the ghostly lady actually spoke to a prep cook, while walking towards him. She walked right through the poor cook, who was frightened out of his wits, before she vanished. The prep cook quit abruptly and has never since been seen in the hotel, though the Lady in White still occasionally appears.

Walter is another familiar apparition at the Sagamore. He is a portly man with a walrus mustache and a three-piece suit with a golden watch fob. He likes his cigar, so he often heads for the Trillium dining room, which was once the smoking lounge for gentlemen, at the hotel. One time a lady guest entered an apparently empty elevator. She bumped into something invisible, who materialized into Walter. Walter politely tipped his hat to the lady as he rolled his unsmoked cigar between his fingers.

Aside from being a famously haunted hotel in America, the Sagamore is a wonderful place to stay.

The Queen Mary

Lobby of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
Lobby of the Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary at night, Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary at night, Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary in permanent dry dock, now a hotel and restaurant, at Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary in permanent dry dock, now a hotel and restaurant, at Long Beach, California
Mysterious apparitions aboard the Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
Mysterious apparitions aboard the Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

One of the most darkly haunted hotels in America is the RMS Queen Mary. The RMS Queen Mary began her life as a luxury ocean liner in 1936, for the Cunard Line, a shipping operation that included many famous luxury ocean liners. Her port of registry was Liverpool, England, and she was built by the famous Scottish shipbuilders, John Brown and company. She peacefully sailed the North Atlantic Ocean for many years, making the trip from New York City, USA, to Cherbourg, France, to Southhampton, England, and back again to New York City, carrying the wealthy and famous to trans-Atlantic locations.

The Queen Mary became a troopship during World War II, and was painted grey to render her less visible to fighter planes on the open sea. She was nicknamed the Grey Ghost at this time, a nickname which was also a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In 1942, the Queen Mary accidentally sank one of her escort ships, her prow slicing right through the light cruiser HMS Curacoa, which sank immediately, as they were performing maneuvers off the coast of Ireland. The Queen Mary was ordered not to stop for anything, because she was carrying 20,000 trooops and was at high risk for U-boat attacks, so she steamed ahead into the dark with the screams of drowning men filling her ears. Almost 240 men died that night; now, today, at Queen Mary's permanent dry dock on Long Beach in California, those same men can be heard pounding the sides of the ship, still screaming not to be left behind.

Also during the war, a young man named John Henry met his death by fire in Engine Room 13. Engine Room 13 is haunted by knocking sounds, bright lights, wisps of phantom smoke, and sometimes the door of that engine room is hot to the touch for no apparent reason.

Another casualty of war aboard the Queen Mary was a navy cook whose troops didn't like the meals he served. The story goes, he was crammed into the oven by these same rambunctious troops, and the oven was turned on, where the poor cook met his grisly death in a hazing incident gone way too far. That oven is haunted by the screams and horrible cries of the man being burnt alive.

After the war the Queen Mary returned to the open seas, carrying luxury passengers as well as immigrants in steerage. She made her last voyage in 1967, and found her permanent home as a hotel/restaurant/tourist attraction on Long Beach, in California. Transatlantic air travel had become the more common method of crossing the seas, making the Queen Mary unprofitable as a passenger ship.

The Queen Mary is also haunted by a guest from after World War II, while returned to passenger service--a little girl who slid gleefully down the shiny bannister outside the pool area, until a violent pitch from a rouge wave sent her hurling headmost to the stairs and her death from a broken neck. She haunts the pool area and stairs, crying for Mommy.

Even though this haunted hotel is the epitome of elegance and class, the dark side of its history still lives, in ghostly manifestations. No amount of gild or glitter can completely hide the haunted lives who linger on.


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    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Koffee!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love stories about hauntings. The movie the "Shining" was a great movie, my husband and I have watched it several times. The hotel is spectacular. I also had no idea that the movie was based on a real hotel. I don't think I will be staying there. I do agree, there are light and dark spirit. I try not to become exposed to the dark. Up and awesome.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Creative!

    • BkCreative profile image


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I love haunted everything. Oh yeah! I'd love to get to Colorado and stay in that Stanley hotel. I'm thinking how great it would be around Halloween time. Wow!

      When I was in Scotland - my cousin and I went on a haunted alley night tour. Oh yawn. Maybe because I'm a New Yorker (City) - you really have to scare me.

      My kind of hub. Thanks a million and rated up.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the visit, gajanis. I love spooky stories, too, and have quite a collection of them to share. If you ever do visit one of these locations, please let us know what you've found...

    • gajanis786 profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting.....would like to visit these places whenever possible....thanks.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Gypsy Rose..."Heeerrre's Johnny!"

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for the hub. Love that world beyond. Would love to see these places and experience the unknown. The Shining is one of my favorite movies however if I stayed at that hotel I would °probably be up all night waiting for "Johnny" to come.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never been to a haunted house. I'm not into being freaked out like the one from The Shining. Who knows if I'd get extra hauntings because my name is the same.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very, very cool story, Memphis Yankee. This really sounds like one place I'd LOVE to visit!

    • MemphisYankee profile image


      7 years ago from Tennessee

      It was actually a smaller hotel - The Biscuit Palace. We had the entire fourth floor to ourselves. The fourth floor has only one room - a huge two bedroom suite with a kitchen and a large living area. I was creeped out from the beginning since the large living area was decorated with a spooky painting that spanned the entire wall. I don't know how to describe that painting, really. It had black buildings and a red/orange sky with a lady floating on the rooftops. She seemed to be throwing white beads. It was super creepy.

      Our first night, we checked in just before the office closed. We took our things upstairs, all went to the bathroom, and then left for dinner. I was the last one to use the bathroom and noticed a washcloth folded under a bar of soap on the sink. I was the first one to use the bathroom when we got back from dinner. The soap was still in the same spot on the sink, but the washcloth was unfolded and hanging on the front of the sink. I asked my friends why they'd done that with the washcloth. It's current position seemed very unnatural to me, and I knew I didn't do it. They hadn't touched it, and reminded me I was the last one to use the bathroom before we left and the first one in when we got back. Ummm... awkward.

      We asked the maid the next day if she'd been in the room. The place has only one maid and she said she'd left for the day before we even checked in. She asked us why and when we told her about the washcloth, her eyes got very large. She said something to the owner about, "see!" He insisted the place wasn't haunted and it was in our heads...

      That was the beginning. The fan in my bedroom kept turning itself on the entire weekend. A pile of beads that were in the dining area when we got there went missing on the second day (again, not the maid).

      The weirdest thing was when we went to turn in the keys (real keys, not cards). My friend couldn't find hers. Thinking she left it upstairs (no elevator) the owner told us he'd just get it from the maid when she cleaned the room. Halfway back to Memphis, my friend found the key in her pants, which she hadn't worn since the day we checked in, despite having used the key the night before. I guess the ghost wanted her to come back!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, Memphis Yankee, thanks for the comment but what a teaser that is! Was the New Orleans hotel either Le Pavilion, which is also haunted in a very cool way, or the Provincial Hotel?? I wanted to include these also in my hub, but it was getting pretty long...I'm thinking about doing a Part II if I can collect enough other stuff.

      Soooo....tell me, please, all about your friendly ghost!

    • MemphisYankee profile image


      7 years ago from Tennessee

      Very cool! Vote up and gave you an interesting and awesome! I stayed in a haunted New Orleans hotel once - and only once! Our ghost was friendly, at least, but I won't be going back!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Kitty. I also found it pretty fascinating that Stephen King encountered an actual ghost in the spooky hotel he used for the Overlook setting in his book.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      7 years ago from Summerland

      Ohhhh...good one, Paradise! I'm sad that you thought of this concept before me! Hehe...really spooky hotels though. And I had no idea that Stephen King's The Shining was based on a real hotel. Awesome. Voted up, interesting, and awesome.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Judi Bee. You know, I'd go to the Sagamore in a heartbeat but not the Stanley Hotel or the Queen Mary. There's lighter and darker hauntings and I'd definitely avoid the darker kind.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      7 years ago from UK

      I love ghost stories! Thanks for sharing, but I don't think I will be booking in any time soon :0


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