What do a peanut-butter muffin, a former first lady and a famous literary figure have in common? They are all part of famous hotel hauntings at some of the nation's more charming properties. This year, book a stay at one of these haunted hotels and B&Bs, but don't be surprised if you experience a visit from a friendly ghost who just wants some company ... or a tortured spirit that befell a tragic, untimely death.
Prospect Hill Bed and Breakfast, Mountain City, Tenn.
Come to Prospect Hill B&B and see if the spirits who reside here come out to play. The ghosts are shy and usually do not appear to people who come looking for them. However, there have been multiple sightings, ranging from a woman who peeks into suitcases and a man in old military clothes to mysterious smells of spilled bourbon, rose perfume and peanut-butter cookies and muffins.
“We believe there are multiple ghosts at the inn because they haunt by doing different things, in different rooms and different times,” said current innkeeper Judy Hotchkiss. The ghosts are said to be the original owners, who more than likely died inside the building and frequently baked peanut-butter treats. “They seem happy however. Their usual habits include drinking bourbon, eating peanut-butter muffins and peeking inside guests’ suitcases,” Hotchkiss said.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colo.
The Stanley Hotel has developed a spooky reputation over the years. First, there's the fact that it was the hotel that inspired Stephen King's "The Shining" (and it was the set for the miniseries of the same name). Second, there are the actual spooks, including the extra housekeeping services in room 217 by the ghost of Ms. Elizabeth Wilson—former chief housekeeper in the early 1900s who broke both ankles in that room. In addition to Ms. Wilson, other paranormal happenings have been reported throughout the hotel, including: items being moved around; lights being turned "on" and "off"; guests being tucked in at night; the sounds of giggling children running around the halls of the fourth floor; F.O. Stanley roaming the lobby, and Flora Stanley playing her piano in the Music Room. Nightly ghost tours and paranormal investigations are available. Walk around this hotel, and there’s no doubt hotel guests are staying in a haunted building. Just don't say "Red Rum" to your friends too many times when you stay; it's only funny the first couple of times.
The 17Hundred90 Inn and Restaurant, Savannah, Ga.
It's no surprise that Savannah has a few haunts, considering a portion of the city was built on top of a former graveyard. To meddle with spirits, book a stay in Savannah's 17Hundred90 Inn. It's a regular stop for Anna and Thaddeus, friendly spirits who haunt this hotel. Room 204 has been claimed by Anna, whose husband had an untimely death, and her sobs are heard by guests, as are the sounds of tugging on sheets and other mischievous deeds.
“She’s also been known to get into bed with the male guests who have rolled over and felt her presence in the bed next to them," said innkeeper Patrick Godley. "Thaddeus makes his presence known by leaving pennies and dimes throughout the inn. When I first bought the property, I found either a penny or a dime throughout the inn for 28 days in a row.”
The Algonquin Hotel, New York City
This New York hotel was a popular gathering place for great figures in American literature, such as William Faulkner, Edna Ferber and Heywood Broun. Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker and Robert E. Sherwood were among the first members of the Algonquin Round Table group. They gathered in the Rose Room with other literary friends to discuss ideas, opinions and more. Apparently those literary bonds, once formed, are never to be broken, and today there are reports of former Round Table members haunting the hotel. In particular, Dorothy Parker is claimed to haunt The Algonquin; she once unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide in the hotel.
St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Fla.
Lily, the spirit haunting the St. Francis Inn, was a servant here in the mid-19th century. She was having an affair with her master’s son, and upon discovery, the son was told never to see her again and in his heartbroken state, he committed suicide. Lily is said to still be searching for him, and guests have reported mysterious figures in the hallway, makeup bags that have been filled with water, strange noises and icy touches.
“She is very playful and can usually be found on the third floor. Oftentimes she will play pranks such as turning the TV on at night, moving things around, and guests have reported sightings of her gown and veil throughout the hallways,” said Joe Finnegan, who has been the innkeeper for the past 30 years.
La Fonda, Santa Fe, N.M.
The La Fonda hotel is notorious for spooky hauntings, and rightfully so—the history of the hotel and the land it sits on is frightening enough. In the early 1600s, it is said, the original inn held court proceedings, which included executions in the lobby.
The hotel has been rebuilt many times over the years, but the one thing that hasn't change is the violence. The chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, the Honorable John P. Slough, was shot and killed in the lobby in 1867. After that, a distressed salesman lost company money in a card game and committed suicide by jumping into a deep well outside of the hotel. It has been reported that Judge Slough roams the hallways, along with the salesman and other apparitions, such as a man in a long, black coat and a figure who jumps into the floor in the middle of the hotel dining room.
Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, Darrow, La.
Situated on Louisiana's River Road, a historic road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is Houmas House. It's haunted by a young girl whose spirit was disturbed by construction on the plantation. Since renovations began in 2003, guests have reported the young girl, between the ages of 7 and 10, standing on the staircase in a blue dress. She is thought to be the daughter of a previous owner of the plantation, perhaps from the late 18th century. However, she—or any other nearby spirits—will not show herself to the current owner, Kevin Kelly.
“I will sometimes go to bed with three glasses of Wild Turkey in hopes of sharing with them, but they never appear,” said Kelly.
The Equinox, Manchester Village, Vt.
This Vermont hotel’s most famous ghost is none other than Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abe Lincoln. The former first lady was staying at the The Equinox with her children when her husband was assassinated. Since then, she has been seen by two of the hotel’s employees who were completing their housekeeping duties when they briefly glimpsed Mrs. Lincoln with a small child. Along with this appearance, a number of other guests have experienced the same sight. Other guests have heard whispers, glimpsed figures from the corner of their vision and other paranormal happenings.
Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast Resort, Nice, Calif.
When you check in at this bed and breakfast in California, don't be surprised not to find your quarters in a stately old home. You'll be "conducted" to the guest rooms, which are all in former cabooses. Guests sleep in these train compartments that were formerly part of the Southern Pacific rail line and once transported people and cargo across the country. If that is not a unique enough experience, request the Celebration Caboose—a spirit in striped pajamas is said to visit.
“I think the ghost that haunts the Celebrations Caboose never appears before me because he is afraid I will ask him for his credit card,” said Tony Barthel, owner of Featherbed Railroad B&B.
Old Stagecoach Inn, Waterbury, Vt.
This inn has been around for quite some time and is one of the oldest around Waterbury. There have been reports of strange happenings, such as rocking chairs suddenly moving back and forth and the beds being mysteriously stripped, with the sheets then found folded on the edge of the bed. However, one of the stranger instances happened late one night when unexpected guests visited the Old Stagecoach Inn, needing a place to stay.
“They claimed they were checked in by another 'guest' who had gray hair and was wearing a long dress, a description that matched none of the guests staying at the inn,” said innkeeper John Barwick.
To this day, it has never been discovered who this mysterious woman was, but it is speculated that it’s the former resident, Margaret Annette Spencer.