8 Haunted Hotels in North America
Looking for a paranormal experience to accompany your room service? Book a stay at one of these haunted hotels in North American.
1. Haunted Hotels: The Carolina Hotel, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill is said to be a haunted hotel, haunted by the ghost of Dr. William Jacocks, who worked with the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation and lived in the inn for 17 years until his death in 1965. During on-site visits by “Paranormal investigators” Haunted North Carolina in 2002 and 2009, a research team made audio and video recordings that captured footsteps and a door slamming shut in an empty room and the faint sounds of a piano playing-though none was being played at the time.
Get a glimpse into the Carolina Inn’s haunted happenings with a video tour available on YouTube, and if you make it to Chapel Hill, try to book a room in Dr. Jacocks’ former suite for the greatest chance of a ghoulish encounter.
2. Haunted Hotels: The Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas
According to tour group Austin Ghost Tours, the Driskill isn’t just the most haunted building in Austin, but the most haunted hotel in Texas-perhaps even the entire United States. Opened in 1886 by cattle baron Colonel Jesse Lincoln Driskill, the hotel was top of the line for its time, with steam heat, hydraulic elevators and lavishly appointed rooms; it even hosted the Texas Senate for a year.
Come for a visit and you may just get to meet Colonel Driskill, as his ghost is said to roam the original hotel building, accompanied by the smell of cigar smoke. Other regular hauntings include a young child bouncing a ball and the ghost of P.J. Lawless, a railroad ticket agent who lived in the Driskill for 31 years. Far from hiding its spooky past, the Driskill embraces it, even offering a Bats, Ghouls & Weirdos guest package that includes “spirits” at the bar, a book about Austin’s ghosts and a carriage ride to visit North America’s largest urban bat colony.
3. Haunted Hotels: HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel
It’s no luxury haunted hotel, but the Ottawa Jail Hostel wins major points for authenticity: it was a functioning jail from 1862 to 1972 with what Hostelling International claims as “a long history of mistreating its inmates”-some of whom, apparently, still haven’t left.
Guests’ recollections of paranormal events include strange objects and lights in photos, creepy noises behind walls and a sighting of a faceless woman wearing only a blanket, as well as unusual-even freaky-dreams and sensations. See for yourself by booking a jail cell to sleep in (available as shared accommodation or twin). Have kids who love to be scared? Book them a birthday party at the hostel; the Birthday Behind Bars package includes a night’s stay in a jail cell, a personalized mug shot and fingerprinting for each “delinquent” and optional add-ons like a Haunted Walks Jail Tour.
4. Haunted Hotels: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado
Denver’s oldest continually operating haunted hotel-it has been open every day since August 12, 1892-is also among the country’s best, with well-known visitors throughout the decades including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (the latter came with 222 pieces of luggage), multiple presidents including Clinton and Eisenhower, and actors Elizabeth Taylor, Robin Williams and Kevin Costner. Embracing its hauntings, the Brown Palace offers special Halloween tours through October and a Halloween-themed brunch. The rest of the year, you can book themed tours including the ghost tour, which “highlights tales of unexplained phenomena and spirits who appear to have chosen to spend eternity with us.”
5. Haunted Hotels: Tarrytown House, Tarrytown, New York
You may not have heard of Tarrytown, but you’ll certainly know of its next-door neighbour, Sleepy Hollow (actually formerly known as North Tarrytown). The town was popularized in Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” first published in 1820, and the 1999 Tim Burton film featuring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci that was loosely based upon it.
According to a story in the Hudson Independent, Sleepy Hollow and its surroundings-including Tarrytown-have been called the most haunted places in the world. Get a taste of the region with a stay at Tarrytown House, haunted hotel: a property of 11 separate buildings including the circa-1840 King Mansion, the estate’s oldest building with 10 Georgian-style bedrooms that some say are haunted. Special offers include the fall Horseman’s Hollow Package, which combines a deluxe stay at the estate with two tickets to the Horseman’s Hollow at Historic Phillipsburg Manor, a haunted trail and house that ends with a party in honour of the Headless Horseman.
6. Haunted Hotels: The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta
You won’t find information about hauntings on its website, but stories abound online of ghost sightings by both staff and visitors at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Banff travel guide taximike.com, for example, posts ghost-related stories and photos submitted by readers, including one recent story of an elevator mysteriously opening and closing its doors, accompanied by a photo of the elevator with a strange blue light on one side. And according to travel website Grumpy Traveller, the haunted hotel is haunted by former bellhop Sam Macauley, who retired unwillingly in 1978 and persists in helping guests with luggage and letting them into rooms.
7. Haunted Hotels: The Fairmont Empress, Victoria, BC
Best known for high tea and its imposing presence above Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the Empress is also said to be home to a number of ghosts. Local tour company Discover the Past includes this haunted hotel on one of its guided walks; Saturday evenings, join a tour to hear the story of chambermaid Lizzie McGrath, who died in 1909 after stepping out of her sixth-storey room to stand on the fire escape that she thought was there but had been removed for construction. Other reputed otherworldly residents include a a carpenter who hung himself during the hotel’s construction and Empress architect Sir Francis Rattenbury himself who was murdered in 1935 in his homeland of England by his chauffeur (and wife’s lover).
8. Haunted Hotels: 1859 Historic National Hotel, Jamestown, California
Go west to Gold Rush country and California’s National Hotel, which has been operating continuously since 1859. The haunted hotel’s resident ghost-some might even say mascot-is called “Flo,” short for Flora. The spectre is said to be friendly to visitors, though you might hear her sobbing at night or feel an icy wind going by as you walk down the hall. Flo has good reason to be upset: She arrived at the hotel in the late 1800s to get married, but her fiancé was shot and killed while walking down the stairs. Flo was found dead a few days later, sitting next to the window dressed in her wedding clothes-apparently killed by a broken heart.