By: Brent Swancer ……
Hotels are in some ways inherently creepy places to begin with. How many people have been on that bed, putting their head to that pillow, sharing the same space that you occupy now? All of these people with different lives and paths, staying in that same place, their time there overlapping in time, it is all rather spooky when you think about it. What has gone on in that room and who has passed through its walls? Who has been in there with you? Such questions become even eerier when you are staying in a room of a hotel with a traumatic past, sitting and sleeping on the very same furniture that has been there since the beginning. As creepy as that all is, it gets even more so when hauntings are involved, with some hotel rooms around the world harboring very mysterious forces, and here will will look at some of the most haunted hotel rooms there are.
Lying out in the once bustling gold mining town of St Bathans, New Zealand, is the historical Vulcan Hotel. Built in the 19th century during the gold mining boom, the hotel was once at the center of a bustling area but now sits in a rather sad state of affairs, decrepit and forgotten. One of its claims to fame is that it is said to be one of the most haunted places in New Zealand, and most of this revolves around the notorious Room One. Here the story mostly involves a woman named Rose, a prostitute who was allegedly strangled in the room’s bed in the late 19th century.
She supposedly was killed while plying her trade in the notorious Room One, and ever since the room has been more or less unlivable. Moving objects, flickering lights, cold spots, doors creaking, phantom footsteps, groaning sounds, appliances turning on and off by themselves, and doors locking, this is all par for the course here, and especially men seem to be targeted. Male visitors have reported waking up in the middle of the night with the feeling of someone pressing down on them and fingers wrapping around their throat, and it is all pretty creepy, indeed.
Another very haunted hotel room is Room 410 at the Queen Anne Hotel, in San Francisco, California. Originally built as a girls’ boarding school in 1890, the Victorian style mansion’s haunting has its roots back in its boarding school days, when the headmistress of the school, Miss Mary Lake, apparently had an affair with a James “Slippery Jim” Fair, the Senator who funded the building. This was scandalous stuff at the time, making the rounds in the news in a major way. At the time, Lake had her office at Room 410, and when she died it seems as if she never really left. The ghost of room 410 is by all accounts a fairly friendly spirit, reportedly singing to those trying to fall asleep, tucking their sheets in, and having their suitcases mysteriously unpacked. There are also cold spots in room and the hallways and seeing strange reflections in the mirrors, and this is one spirit that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Another heavily haunted room is located in Banff, Alberta, Canada, at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in the entire country. And there is so much paranormal activity that goes on in room 873 that guests are forbidden to stay in it. There was allegedly a murder that happened in that room when a man killed his family. Guests who have stayed in that room have reported hearing disembodied screams as soon as they turned out the lights. And when they turned the lights back on, they would notice mysterious hand prints on the mirror. What’s even more eerie is that despite being cleaned, the prints won’t come off the mirror. With the heavy paranormal activity in that room, the hotel decided to seal it off from the public.
Next, we have an establishment lying out in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the United States, where there is the historic, regal Read House Hotel. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known for its quaint old-fashioned Georgian style architecture, it is a delightful little gem that has over the years attracted a list of famous guests including Oprah Winfrey, Gary Cooper, Winston Churchill, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and even the notorious gangster Al Capone. It is mostly considered a classy and elegant piece of history, but it also has more than its share of ghostly phenomena, and it has the distinction of having what is considered to be one of the most haunted hotel rooms there is.
Next, we come to another rather spooky tale. The Read House Hotel, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was originally the Old Crutchfield House, which was built in the mid-1800s during the area’s bustling years as a pretty major railway hub, and did brisk business serving the many people passing through. During the Civil War it served as both an inn and hospital for injured Union soldiers, losing a bit of its luster. A fire destroyed it in 1867, but it would be rebuilt by new owner, businessman John T. Read, as the Read House Hotel, which opened in 1872. Read had high aspirations for his new venture, seeking to build the finest and most opulent hotel the city of Chattanooga had ever seen, sparing no expense in its creation.
With its marble inlaid floors, sumptuous carved and gilded mahogany woodwork, and sweeping columns and arches it worked, and soon the Read House Hotel was seen as the pinnacle of luxury, attracting high class wealthy clientele from all over the country. This would continue until in 1875, when much of the hotel was badly damaged by a flood and it feel into disrepair, eventually mostly rebuilt and renovated in 1926 into the 10-story building we see today. There are plenty of rooms here, but when walking through these halls there is one room in particular that has attracted much attention and that is its infamous Room 311.
The room itself doesn’t look particularly special, resembling the many other rooms of the hotel with its rustic charm and old-fashioned décor, but this particular room is supposedly steeped in a dark, bloody history. It is said that in the 1920s, a young woman named Annalisa Netherly stayed here with her lover, but it was to be far from a romantic getaway. According to the tale, the lover became jealous of Annalisa’s flirtatious ways, they argued, one thing led to another, and she ended up murdered, decapitated, and dumped in the room’s bathtub, where she was later found by shocked staff. It was not long after this that the room quickly gained a reputation for being remarkably haunted. Guests would complain of all manner of paranormal phenomena in the room, including flickering lights, doors that open by themselves, the toilet flushing when no one is there, the faucet turning on by itself, the key to the room refusing to work, cold chills, the feeling of being watched, in more modern times the TV changing channels on its own, shadowy figures appearing in the mirror, and others.
Most frightening of all is the apparition of a young woman, presumably Annalisa, who will sit on the bed or wander around the room, but who will also sometimes display aggressive behavior, especially towards men. One very famous story comes from the time Al Capone stayed here while on his way to his federal trial for tax evasion. The room was even fitted with bars to prevent him from escaping, which remained for years after, but most intriguing is that it is said that Annalisa was so offended by his cigar smoke that she acted up during the time. Reports from the room have continued on into the modern day, and one report comes from a “Tangelo99” on the site Trip Advisor, who says:
“We stayed at the hotel 9 years ago with no knowledge of any ghost stories. There were 4 of us in the room including my daughter who was 13 at the time. In the morning she said that she woke up in the night and saw a shadow of someone standing by the door but then it was gone. She was thinking it was someone getting up to go to the bathroom and went back to sleep. Another person in our party said that they also woke up and thought they saw someone by the bathroom and thought the same thing but then it was gone and everyone was in their beds. Didn’t give it much thought. My daughter all day long while sightseeing couldn’t stop thinking about it. I told her when we get back to the hotel we will ask if anyone has reported strange happenings confident, they would say no and put her mind at ease. When we got back, we asked the front desk and to my astonishment, they said yes, they received many reports and handed me a piece of paper with the story about room 311. We stayed another night with nothing occurring but it left all of us wondering!”
Another report comes from the same site from a “magic9s9,” who says at the time her son was staying in the notorious room. She says:
“My son stayed there this week for a conference in Chattanooga. While he was there, I looked up the hotel and found out about the haunted stories. So I texted him and told him there were staying in a haunted hotel. So being the curious teenager he is, he explored, asked questions and such. He never believed in that stuff but said he was walking the halls asking for something to happen, was calling the girl ghost fake and such. He and his roommates were in bed watching TV later and he got pinched. Totally freaked him out. They there was a knock on the door at 10:30pm. They answered pretty quickly and there was nobody around. He said there was no way someone could have knocked on their door and ran, they would have seen them or at least heard another guest room door shut. He was defiantly weirded out about the whole thing. He didn’t even tell us about it until he got home.”
A couple by the name of Tripp and Shiba Gorman from Atlanta came to stay at the hotel from Atlanta, and were among the first to be allowed to stay in the room after its renovation in 2019. They said that they immediately got bad vibes from the room, but then Shiba started seeing things and having some unsettling experiences such as the drawers opening on their own, and she says of their stay:
“It was just very disturbing. I did get a very heavy, kind of like a sad feeling, from this place. I felt something grabbing my wrist and then it happened and stopped. I just kept seeing things move in the corner of my eye. I stop and I look at it and I’m like wait. And I run back in, and I’m like ‘baby are you messing with me?’ I was shaking for about 10 minutes.”
The hotel has been renovated several times in modern times, including in 2004 and in 2019, but although other rooms have been outfitted to be more modern, Room 311 has intentionally been modified to be eerily as it has always been, with the TV taken out and making it as authentic to the 1920s as possible in an effort to appease the resident ghost. Hotel general manager Ken Merkel has said of this decision:
“After reading all accounts of haunted Room 311, we knew the best thing to do was to restore the room to make Annalisa Netherly comfortable with no modern amenities. And we are excited to welcome new guests to share her room. Room 311 looks and feels like Annalisa’s room in the 1920s. There is an AM radio that does not work, a vintage clawfoot tub, an original pull chain toilet, antique furnishings, and distressed hardwood floors just like it would have been in the early twentieth century and no television.”
To this day Room 311 is mostly considered off limits, only very occasionally offered to guests for special occasions, but one can still see it through the ghost tours run by the hotel. The renovations don’t seem to have stopped the tales of weirdness coming from this room, and it has remained a famous location for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. Why is this ghostly phenomenon so firmly tethered to this room? What does this spirit want? Is any of this real at all or is it just a spooky urban legend? Only one way to find out, and that is to book a night there to see for yourself.
Another ominous room sits within a historic hotel in the U.S. state of New Mexico, which has a dark, turbulent history and is by all accounts infested with ghosts and possessed of its very own cursed room. What is now called the St. James Hotel, in historic downtown Cimarron, New Mexico, was first built by a man named Henry Lambert in 1872. Once the personal chef to none other than president Abraham Lincoln himself, Lambert had headed out West for the same reason a lot of people were at the time; he wanted to find gold. He sadly did not strike it rich as planned, and ended up starting the hotel originally as a restaurant and saloon to service travelers passing by along the Santa Fe Trail. The place proved to be so popular that it was made into the Lambert Inn, and it would go on to be called the St. James Hotel and earn a rather nefarious reputation.
At the time, Cimarron was lawless place, a den of scum and villainy not unlike an old Western film, and many of these unsavory characters inhabited the Lambert Inn. Interestingly, the Inn was a popular hangout for both lawmen and criminals alike, and among the many names that came passing through are a veritable who’s who of the Wild West, including Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, as well as his killer Bob Ford, Buffalo Bill Cody, the outlaw Davy Crockett, Clay Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, Annie Oakley, Doc Holliday, Kit Carson, and Pat Garrett, among many others.
Considering that when you get this many volatile elements in one place there is bound to be trouble, shootouts, fights, and all manner of mayhem were par for the course here, despite the place’s reputation as an elegant establishment. Things got so bad that Lambert actually had the ceiling reinforced with extra thick wood paneling in order to make sure that guests sleeping upstairs wouldn’t accidentally be shot. There would be an estimated 26 murders carried out at the notorious St. James Inn during its heyday, and when it was renovated in 1901 there were found to be myriad bullet holes peppered throughout the place, with more than 400 bullet holes in the ceiling above the bar alone, a testament to its violent history.
When more and more railroads began passing through the region, the Santa Fe trail became obsolete and customers at the hotel dried up, leaving the inn to fall on hard times. Henry Lambert himself died in 1913, his wife not long after, and the hotel went on to go through periods of abandonment punctuated by a procession of different owners. For the most part, it was a hollow husk of what it had once been, and it would not be until 1985 that it was finally renovated and injected with some semblance of its former glory. Yet, no matter what they did there still remained bullet holes that can be seen to this day, and they could not completely wash away the establishment’s dark past. Indeed, it seems that this past has lingered on, in the form the many ghosts said to still be tethered here.
The St. James Hotel, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places, is already a somewhat creepy place to begin with. Rustic and kept with the same style it had back in the 1800s, the rooms in the original building have no television, phones, or radios and are furnished largely with the same pieces that were there over a century ago. It is like a place stuck in time, an insect in amber, and to walk through the doors of the St. James is akin to stepping into a time machine back to the Wild West. It is at once charming and not a little creepy, so it may be no surprise that with this frozen in time appearance, creaky floors and its bloody past it is perfectly suited to hauntings, and boy does it have them.
One famous ghostly resident is the wife of Henry Lambert, Mary Lambert, who has allegedly been seen all over the place here. She especially seems to enjoy spending her time at the dining hall and her old room, her presence often first sensed through the anomalous smell of rose perfume in the air. One witness and ghost hunter Rick Smithson, of the International Ghost Hunters Society stayed in Mary Lambert’s old room and has this to say:
“Staying in the room of the late Mary Lambert was exciting. As we were fading off to sleep, I felt a light touch on my back. Although feeling quite soothing, I noticed my wife was turned away and could not have touched by back. Upon questioning if she had just touched me…she had not! A moment later she shivered as invisible fingers lightly touched her hand. About 3 AM we heard a hideous scream that seemed to originate inside our room. Upon immediate picture taking we discovered a vortex (thought by many to be the spiritual presence of a deceased person.”
There is also Lambert’s son Johnnie, who died in a fire at the tender age of 2, and who roams about the halls appearing as a little boy with blonde, curly hair and horrible, disfiguring burns on his face. He is joined by the ghosts of two 12-year-old girls who died at the hotel from diphtheria, as well as various apparitions of unidentified shadow figures dressed in period clothing, thought to be the restless spirits of dead outlaws. Another famous ghost here is that of a small little ancient old man called the “Little Imp,” who is said to be very mischievous, poking people, hurling objects, and breaking glass lampshades. These various ghosts are seen all over the St. James Inn, but there is one place that is particularly known for its intense paranormal activity, and that is the infamous Room 18.
Room 18, which is interestingly enough located right next to Mary Lambert’s room, is said to have once been just a room like any other in the hotel, that is until one night in 1881. According to the lore, on this evening there was a booze-fueled poker game held at the hotel, but when the game was won by a man named James “TJ” Wright, someone took issue. Wright went back to his room, Room 18, and was shot in the back, after which he died there in the room. After that, room 18 became well-known for its especially violent and malicious paranormal activity.
Guests who have actually stayed there have reported being pushed, prodded, hit, and having objects fly around, covers ripped off the bed, night terrors, sleep paralysis, and being beset with unbearable feelings of hate and negativity. Adding to the spook factor here is that there are said to have been people who went insane and killed themselves in the room. There have been so many reports of intense, malevolent paranormal phenomena from Room 18, that it was eventually closed off to guests, and to this day remains locked shut and off limits. Even so, the evil presence inside can still apparently be felt simply from standing outside the room, and one witness named Karen Hudson has said of this:
“I could not shake the feeling of being watched or followed. Standing in front of room No. 18, I could feel something like getting the heebie-jeebies on the back of my neck. My husband said it felt like the hair on the back of his neck was standing on end.”
The St. James Hotel has become so well-known as one of New Mexico’s most haunted places that it has attracted quite a few paranormal investigators and even featured on the Discovery Channel show “Ghost Adventures,” who investigated the place on season 9 of their show. The crew claims to have witnessed numerous strange phenomena on the premises, including swaying chandeliers, anomalous noises including a child laughing, apparitions captured on camera, and EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) of someone saying “thank you”, “I’m dead”, and “smoke.” At present, the St. James Hotel encompasses the original structure, with 13 historic rooms and no modern amenities, as well as a new annex, which has an additional 10 rooms with more modern accommodations, and guests can still enjoy the old-fashioned dining hall and salon, which have remained largely unchanged since the 1800s. Is the hotel haunted? Why not book a room and find out for yourself?
Moving along, we come to the Mount Washington Hotel, in New Hampshire, USA. Built in 1900, the hotel got a taste of death very early on when the man who had it built, Joseph Stickney, came down with an illness and died not long after the hotel’s grand opening. His widowed wife, Carolyn, would move off to Europe, but would make yearly visits to the hotel to pay her respects. It is said that she came at the same time of year every time, and always stayed in Room 314, also called the Princess Suite, during her visits. She continued her annual visits until her death in 1936, and it is from there that the story of hauntings in Room 314 seem to begin.
Although Carolyn did not die on the premises, despite the lurid rumors of her committing suicide there, she sure does seem to like to hang out there. Her apparition has been seen wandering all over the hotel, but she especially seems to be active in Room 314, where she will appear at all hours but especially at the foot of the bed at night, either standing there or sitting, and there are numerous reports of smelling the scent of a floral perfume, as well as instances of lights turning on and off on their own, as well as items disappearing and reappearing in strange locations. She will also apparently sit by the mirror fixing her hair, and on these occasions, she also does not seem to be aware of her surroundings. Although this spirit seems to be mostly innocuous, there have been some scary encounters, with one former housekeeper at the hotel saying of her experience in the room:
“In 1997 I was working as a housekeeper and had to clean room #314, the Princess’s room. I went to service the room, that newlyweds were staying in, and I knocked on the door and there was no answer. I opened the door went in and there was a little girl sleeping on the bed. Immediately, I went to the hallway to see my inspector, and told her I couldn’t clean the room because a little girl was sleeping. She said that was odd because the guests were newlyweds and nobody else was registered. She asked me to leave a note that I was coming back in an hour to service the room. I went back in the room to leave the note by the table.”
“I walked in the room quietly to not to wake the little girl up. When I looked at the bed, instead of a little girl there was a woman staring right at me with the most scary smile on her face. She had black hair and was wearing a white dress. I got chills down my spine and I just stood there frozen. She sat on the bed and kept staring at me. I ran out of the room and told my friend who was also a housekeeper. We both went back in the room and there was no one there. I still have a hard time remembering that incident and I get chills every time I speak about it. I have many friends that have worked there and I heard a lot of scary things that happened. Oh, the day before this happened my friend and I took pictures of ourselves on the Princess’s bed; everybody tells me that I made her upset by doing that.”
In addition to room 314, Carolyn also likes to frequent the hotel bar and the ballroom, The ghost has been seen so consistently and is so bold, that the Mount Washington Hotel has long ranked up there among the most haunted places in the state, and has been a popular destination for paranormal investigators. Finally, we come to perhaps one of the weirder haunted hotel rooms, at London’s Langham Hotel. The whole building is supposedly intensely haunted, such as the spirit of Napoleon III, who once stayed at the Langham, and is now is said to lurk in the hotel’s basement, but nowhere quite as much as Room 333.
The story goes that a doctor once murdered his wife here, and while that may be true, it doesn’t really seem to account for the very strange apparition said to dwell here. Although there is a good selection of the typical fare, such as the lights or faucets turning on and off by themselves, one of the most common reports is that of a glowing orb that materializes into a man without legs. This legless apparition will apparently scamper about before vanishing, and also emits a stifling sense of fear and dread wherever it goes. Who is this ghost supposed to be and why is it without legs? Who knows? All of these are very creepy stories, and certainly don’t seem to be like the room you would want to stay in. What is going n with these places and what, mysterious forces have anchored themselves here?