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Are you searching for haunted places and real haunted hotels in California?
California is well-known for its Wild West ghost towns, eerie mansions, and spooky hotels.
In fact, there’s plenty of ghost stories, and paranormal activity reported throughout the state. But, it’s up to you to decide whether these ghostly encounters are fact or fiction.
Trust us, visiting these haunted attractions or staying in one of these California hotels will give you quite the thrill.
Here are the top ten haunted places to stay in California with creepy backstories.
Originally built in the 1890’s as a school for girls the building was sold and turned into a gentleman’s club almost ten years later.
As the story goes, Mary Lake, the school’s headmistress was so distraught with the sale that she allegedly died from a broken heart.
The property was eventually turned into a hotel and renamed the Queen Anne Hotel in 1980.
But it’s believed that Mary Lake’s ghost still lingers at the property.
Some guests, for instance, have come across the Bishop’s chair ‒ a chair dated back to Miss Lake’s headmistress days.
People who have sat in the chair said that they felt an invisible hand touching their arm. They’d experience this soon as they placed their arms on the armrests.
Other guests have felt someone touching or stroking their hair – even if there was no one there!
Mary Lake’s old office room, now room 410, is said to be where most ghostly hauntings take place. Her ghost would unpack guests’ suitcases and, supposedly, sometimes even tuck them to sleep!
There are also reports of mysterious figures lurking in photos taken at the Queen Anne Hotel.
The Hollywood Roosevelt is one of the famous haunted hotels in Los Angeles.
This establishment first opened in 1927 and was an instant draw for celebrities. Hollywood stars would usually frequent this hotel and some stayed for very long periods.
Hollywood Roosevelt is said to be haunted by ghosts of famous film stars like Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
Marilyn Monroe used to stay at Suite 1200 when she was working as a model.
Her room, according to the staff, isn’t haunted. But there were numerous sightings of Marilyn’s reflection in the mirror hanging in the hotel lobby ‒ a mirror that was taken from her room.
Montgomery Clift is another famous ’50s actor who is said to haunt his room (928). Guests and staff would sometimes hear his voice from his old suite rehearsing his lines.
Finally, there’s the ghost of a little girl named Caroline who also haunts the hotel.
Caroline drowned in the hotel’s pool when her father left her unattended to run an errand.
Her ghost is said to haunt the Blossom Ballroom and even makes anonymous phone calls from the hotel lobby.
The Queen Mary was an ocean liner before it became a troopship during WWII.
Approximately 50 deaths happened here and that doesn’t include those who died during the war.
A ghost of a woman in white can sometimes be seen dancing in the Queen’s Salon. There’s also the ghost of a sailor who was caught in the engine rooms door and died while trying to escape a fire.
But the horror doesn’t end there.
The first and second class pool rooms are said to be haunted by women and children who have died aboard. Sometimes, cries can be heard from what used to be the third class children’s playroom.
There are also reports of ghostly sightings of women dressed in 1930’s bathing suits hanging around the pool.
Today, this Titanic lookalike can be found in Long Beach Harbor where it has been since 1967.
It’s open to anyone brave enough to board this haunted ship.
If you’re looking for haunted places to stay in San Diego, spend the night at Hotel del Coronado.
This hotel is believed to be haunted by a woman named Kate Morgan who arrived at the hotel and checked into Room 3327 on Thanksgiving Day.
Morgan allegedly fought with her husband before checking in at the hotel.
After waiting for five days for her husband to arrive, she went to San Diego to purchase a handgun and allegedly took her own life just outside the hotel.
However, there is some debate as to whether or not the gunshot wound that killed her was self-inflicted. Apparently, the bullet found during her autopsy did not match her gun.
Most people, including the hotel staff, believe that the hotel is haunted by Morgan’s ghost up to this day.
Guests experience flickering lights, a TV that turns on and off, doors that open and close out of nowhere, and unexplainable smells and sounds.
Weird occurrences also happen in room 3327, unfortunately, for many unsuspecting hotel guests.
This led to Hotel del Coronado becoming known as one of the premier haunted hotels in San Diego.
But that didn’t stop other curious visitors from staying in this haunted hotel in San Diego, particularly in Morgan’s room.
In fact, hers became one of the most requested rooms in the hotel.
Glen Tavern Inn has a bit of a wild past as it used to be a brothel and gambling house.
But the creepiness is unrelated (thankfully?).
Voices of children can sometimes be heard running up and down the halls on the second floor. Of course, when you look, no one is actually there.
Some guests have also reported that their belongings were knocked off by an unseen and mysterious presence.
Room 307 is said to be the room that has the most activity and is haunted by a ghost named Calvin.
Hotel Union Square is one of the most historic haunted hotels in San Francisco.
It’s conveniently located right in the heart of Union Square, making it a popular hotel for those who are staying in the area.
But this isn’t your typical downtown hotel.
There are a lot of dark secrets concealed behind the hotels seemingly grand walls.
Guests reportedly saw items appearing and disappearing in room 207. Others have seen the translucent figure of a woman walking around the room during the dead of the night.
In the 1900s, a girl also committed suicide here by jumping from one of the windows of the seventh floor. Up to this day, some of the hotel staff and guests often see her ghost roaming around the hotel.
Located in Yosemite National Park, The Ahwahnee Hotel opened back in 1927.
It is said to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Curry Tressider, one of the hotels developers.
Tressider used to live in her sixth-floor apartment until she died in 1970. It was after her death that people staying in the hotel started having strange experiences.
Some hotel guests would often refuse to stay on the sixth floor, as it’s believed that her apparition there had become quite common.
But her ghost isn’t the only one who refused to “check out.”
When former President John F. Kennedy stayed in 1962, on the third floor of the hotel, he requested a rocking chair to help ease his back pain.
Soon after JFK’s death, the staff reportedly saw the rocking chair in the room the former president stayed rocking back and forth.
And, of course, creepily enough ‒‒ there’s never anyone sitting there.
It was back in 1906 when the Alexandria Hotel became the first 5-star hotel in LA. The rich and famous, and political elite during those days have waltzed around its lobby.
From actress Mary Pickford, former US Presidents Woodrow Wilson and William Taft, to the great Charlie Chaplin.
The hotel became a popular venue for large social gatherings until the Great Depression in 1921.
That was when the hotel started to experience difficult times which led to its steady decline.
Still, the hotel isn’t free from ghosts of the past. In fact, it’s known to be one of the most haunted places to stay in Los Angeles.
For instance, the ballroom on the second floor is said to be haunted by angry dancers. And this historic hotel is also said haunted by the ghost of actor Rudolph Valentino.
It’s believed that he haunts his room on the 12th floor, otherwise known as the “Valentino Suite.”
Many people also say that sometimes the hotel elevator has a mind of its own.
According to witnesses, the elevator will stop on floors where the button isn’t pressed – especially on the 9th floor.
That’s the floor where most of the paranormal activities have been known to happen.
Formerly called The New California Hotel, the San Remo Hotel is known to be one of the most haunted places in Northern California.
This establishment was built shortly after most of San Francisco was burned by a fire after the great earthquake of 1906. Thus, it originally catered to guests that were looking for budget-friendly rooms.
In 1911, the hotel experienced its first tragedy when a double murder happened during a wedding.
It’s also believed that several ghosts haunt the property, such as the ghost of the painted woman who often knocks on the door of room 33.
Then there’s also the spirit of a mysterious little girl roaming the hallways of the hotel.
The establishment still stands to this day, offering hotel guests with more modern amenities while retaining the charm (and ghosts!) of a much earlier era.
Mission Inn is a historic hotel owned by Christopher Miller.
The ownership was later passed to his son, Frank who began to add various architectural designs to the hotel from Spanish Gothic architecture to colonial architecture.
It became one of the largest Mission Revival style structures in the US, and you won’t see a structure like this anywhere.
The famous author Anne Rice stayed here and the establishment also hosted several events for presidents and celebrities in the past.
But the Mission Inn is said to be haunted by its previous owners, the Millers.
Frank’s sister, Alice, managed the hotel until she died in 1940.
After her death, paranormal activities began happening in the “Aunt Alice” room on the fourth floor. Guests who stayed here felt touches, cold spots, and saw ghostly apparitions of Alice.
There’s also the haunted honeymoon suite across from Alice’s room where a newlywed couple stayed during their honeymoon.
But at midnight, they rushed to check out after being reportedly pushed by an unknown force on the spiral staircase in their suite.
Then, there’s Frank Miller’s room on the fourth floor. This is one of the only rooms in the hotel that wasn’t renovated.
The staff truly believes that Mr. Miller is still present in the room up to this day.
Finally, there have also been numerous sightings of vanishing “guests” from the hallways and in the Spanish patio.
San Francisco is known as one of the most haunted US cities.
During the city’s early history, it was hit by two massive earthquakes, a deadly fire, along with the hardships of the Gold Rush.
No wonder that it’s also filled with restless spirits that allegedly haunt the city.
Ghost stories are so commonplace that curious locals and tourists can even go on a variety of ghost tours around the area.
The Chancellor Hotel, a dominating fixture in Union Square for the past 100 years or so, is known as one of the most haunted places to stay in San Francisco.
Guests staying at the hotel have reported feeling cold spots, knocking on walls, and seeing apparitions or shadows in the rooms.
The upper floors of the hotel are known to be “hotspots” of paranormal activity.
If you’re in the mood for a ghostly encounter, request to stay in room 1501.
A guest who previously stayed in this room reported that when he was about to sleep, an unusual sensation came over him. When he looked around, he saw a dark figure on the left side of his bed that stood about four feet tall.
Moreover, those who stay in room 1501 often ask for a room change, which doesn’t surprise the staff at all.
Located in Northern California’s Gold Country, the National Hotel and Restaurant was first founded in 1848.
If you’re looking for a good ghost story, then here you might get that chance encounter with the hotel’s most famous guest ‒ Flo.
She’s the hotel’s resident ghost.
As the story goes, Flo was raised by her wealthy grandmother in New York. But when her grandmother died, she planned to live with a relative in San Francisco.
During the train trip, she met a dashing young lawyer named Henry and it was quickly love at first sight. And it wasn’t long before Henry proposed.
The two then agreed to meet in Jamestown six weeks later, at the National Hotel and Restaurant where the marriage was to take place.
But those plans, sadly, turned into tragedy.
Henry was accidentally shot by a drunk man in the hotel lobby before they could marry.
Flo was so heartbroken by the death of her fiance that she would be often heard crying day and night in her hotel room.
When New Year’s Eve came, the crying stopped.
When the staff entered her room, she was found lifeless, dressed in a white wedding gown.
Flo died from a broken heart.
After that incident, the staff and guests have reported that lights turn on and off by themselves and doors often slam. Sometimes, they can also hear the wailing voice of a woman in the hallway.
In other accounts, the ghost of a young woman is seen in the pre-dawn hours floating around the dining room walls.
Flo never seemed to leave the hotel.
Perhaps, for her, leaving the hotel and all the bittersweet memories of her lover was too hard to bear.
In the busy, vibrant streets of Downtown LA lies one of the most haunted places in all of Southern California ‒ the Cecil Hotel.
Ever since opening its doors in 1927, this hotel has been a magnet for mysterious and unfortunate events.
Murders, suicides, as well as paranormal events frequently happen here.
It was also where serial killer Richard Ramirez used to stay. Ramirez went on a killing spree between 1984 and 1985, killing about 13 women.
But that’s not all.
Killer Jack Unterweger had a history at the Cecil as well. He murdered at least three prostitutes while staying in the same hotel.
There’s also the suicide of Pauline Otton in 1962. She jumped from her room on the ninth floor, killing a man when her body landed on him below.
Over the last couple of years, deaths continue to plague the hotel.
The most recent one was in 2013, a 21-year-old student from Vancouver, Elisa Lam. Lam had gone missing for two weeks before her decomposing body was found in the rooftop’s water tank.
That’s why most people believe that the Cecil Hotel is far from your average hotel and that it’s absolutely cursed.
And even though it was eventually renamed Stay on Main, nothing could change the hotel’s gruesome past.
Known originally as the Empire Hotel, this hotel was eventually rechristened as Hotel Vertigo.
While it might not be particularly haunted like the rest on this list, staying here can still make you feel a bit unsettled.
Mainly because this hotel had a cameo in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 suspense classic Vertigo.
The lobby has been filled with orange and white 60’s decor that’s highly reminiscent of the film.
So, if you’re a fan of thriller classics then you might want to spend a night or two here.
Nestled in the wine country, Napa River Inn is home to ghosts that date back to the early 1900s.
The first ghost that appeared in this inn was Captain Albert Hatt Jr., the son of the inn’s original owner.
Hatt Jr. and his wife Margaret had five children, but she died early. Soon, Hatt Jr. became overwhelmed with family responsibilities and also disheartened when he was sued over the ownership of a company steamboat.
At 46, Hatt Jr. committed suicide by hanging himself but is said to have never left.
Eventually, another ghost sighting happened: visions of a lady in white.
The woman was said to be Margaret, looking for her husband and trying to stop him from taking his life.
Rooms 207 and 208 are also said to be hotspots of paranormal activity.
Both are located directly above the place where Captain Albert Hatt Jr. died.
The Golden State may be filled with famous Hollywood stars and wonderful attractions, but don’t be fooled.
If you’re planning to spend the night in one of California’s creepy and haunted hotels, put on a brave face, and pray that you make it through the night!
Fact, or fiction, these Californian hotels no doubt have spine-chilling stories to tell.
Are you brave enough to stay at one of these hotels? Let us know in the comments!
Kat is originally from Puerto Rico and is now living in (almost equally) sunny Southern California. She works at a children’s educational company and travels as much as her vacation time will allow. Some of her favorite hobbies include baking, planning Disney trips, and watching too much Netflix.