Check Into a Haunted Hotel This Halloween

Some guests don’t know when to leave, even when they’re dead.

Perhaps their earthly accommodations are preferable to the misty expanse of the hereafter. Or perhaps they are spoiled by room service. (Those mints on the pillow are tempting.)

Or maybe they just like the company of the living, and show their affection by hugging unsuspecting housekeepers or snuggling with pretty, unaccompanied females.

Throughout America, historic hotels and inns have come forward with anecdotal evidence and hearsay of hauntings and mysterious happenings linked to local legends — murders, suicides, those who perished from fires, romantics bemoaning a lost love. And far be it from hotel managers to refrain from renting a room, even if it is already occupied by a less-tangible guest.

In fact, many hotels proudly extoll their permanent residents in their marketing, by booking “ghost tours” and reserving “haunted” rooms for the daring tourist. If sharing your slumber with a spectral bedmate sounds inviting, there are many eager inns that will reserve for you a place to sleep — or perhaps to lie awake in dread.

Dr. Karen Silva, a professor of hotel management at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., says she’s not surprised many hotels use uncanny or romantic tales of hauntings when marketing themselves.

“People are fascinated by anything that’s unusual, macabre or mysterious — especially when they’re traveling or visiting a new place,” Silva says. “The idea of staying in a haunted hotel is intriguing — it adds adventure to your trip. But it’s also temporary — you can check out of the hotel if you decide that the idea of meeting a ghost is just too spooky for you.”

Not Your Standard Amenity

Every year, the National Trust Historic Hotels of America (part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) publishes a list of spectral sightings from its member hotels. This year’s list (and past editions) can be found on their Internet site (http://historichotels.nationaltrust.org). There are also published guides to inns with that “extra-special amenity,” such as Robin Mead’s Haunted Hotels (Rutledge Hill Press), and Southern Fried Spirits by Robert and Anne Wlodarski (Republic of Texas Press).

For those seeking a little supernatural frisson to their vacation stays, here are some of the more intriguing hotel tales:

Aspen, Colo.: A woman recently reported seeing a lost, shivering and soaking-wet boy in Room 310 of the Hotel Jerome. When a staff member arrived to help, the boy had vanished, leaving only wet footprints. At the time, no children were registered in the hotel. According to legend, a child had drowned in the hotel’s original swimming pool, which had been built over by an addition — a wing that includes Room 310. Contact: (970) 920-1000 or http://www.hoteljerome.com.

Denver, Colo.: A historian giving a tour of The Brown Palace Hotel regaled visitors with the story of one of the hotel’s former residents, a scion of Denver society during the 1940s named Louise Crawford Hill. She had suffered heartbreak over a lost love during her residence in Room 904. Shortly after the tour, the switchboard began receiving calls from Room 904, even though the room was being renovated and was stripped of furniture, carpeting, wallpaper, lights — and telephones! When the Hill saga was dropped from subsequent tours, the calls ceased. Contact: (970) 321-2599 or http://www.brownpalace.com/.

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