As mainstream interest in the paranormal increases, more and more hotels are embracing their haunted history—and encouraging thrill-seeking guests to jump into the action themselves with ghost hunts and tours. Some properties keep journals and records of guests' experiences, as well as photo and audio documentation of those things that go bump in the night. Here, a few spooky spots where you can tap into your inner ghost hunter—if you dare. (And we won't judge if you keep the light on after turning in.)
Insider tip: Some properties' policies don't allow public advertising of any reported hauntings or paranormal activity, but that doesn't mean they don't have spooky stories to tell. A discreet inquiry to the concierge or a longtime employee just may get you a behind-the-scenes tour to a property's hidden haunted hot spots.
The Crescent Hotel
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Perched on the crest of the Ozark Mountains, the 126-year-old Crescent Hotel doesn't hide its haunted history—it flaunts it. The property, which was once used as a cancer hospital, has been featured in several popular paranormal shows, and guests can get in on the apparition action with a nightly ghost hunt (adult tickets from $19.50). Staff and guests alike tell stories about strange happenings that have occurred over the years, from an Irish stonemason who fell to his death during construction and is said to inhabit Room 218 to a ghostly nurse pushing a gurney on the third floor—which once housed the morgue. On Halloween night, the hotel will host a unique event in its Crystal Ballroom (also reported to be haunted): a seance attempting to invoke the spirit of master escape artist Harry Houdini, who died on Oct. 31, 1926 of a ruptured appendix.
The Copper Queen Hotel
Every Thursday, the quaint Copper Queen Hotel, which opened in 1902 and counts luminaries such as John Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt among its guests, hosts a ghost hunt led by a local paranormal expert. Ghost hunting equipment like EMF meters and dousing rods are provided for guests' use during a guided tour. Stay tuned for signs of the property's three resident ghosts: a cigar-smoking gentleman, the spirit of a "lady of the evening" named Julia who took her own life in the hotel, and that of a young boy who likes to move items around in guest rooms. The staff encourages guests to report any odd experiences in the "Ghost Journal" by the front door. There's still availability for October, with double rooms starting at $258, including a ghost tour.
The Stanley Hotel
This 16,000-square-foot grand dame has one of the most famous haunted histories—it inspired Stephen King's The Shining, after the horror novelist stayed in room 217—and isn't afraid to boast about its paranormal presence. The 138-room hotel, nestled in the mountains outside of Denver, has a resident psychic, Madame Vera, available for readings, and the hotel will also host its popular Murder Mystery Dinner and The Shining Ball, with a theme this year of "Classic Halloween," on Oct. 26-27. One frighteningly fantastic souvenir for any Shining fans: a creepy-cool black-and-red coffee mug that reads: REDRUM.
The Lemp Mansion
This St. Louis hotel was once the mansion and company headquarters of the city's most powerful beer barons, the Lemp family. Their tragic history spans the mysterious death of a young son, loss of a fortune once valued at $7 million, and three suicides that took place on property, which is now a unique, six-suite hotel. Several types of ghost tours and talks take place at The Lemp Mansion in October, leading up to a hopping Halloween Bash on Oct. 27. But the property's popular supernatural investigations, which come with refreshments and use of an infrared camera to document the ghostly happenings, are a spine-tingling option for brave guests year-round. Rooms from $125 weeknights in October.
The Menger Hotel
San Antonio, Texas
The extravagant Menger Hotel, which is just next to the Alamo and is the oldest continuously running hotel west of the Mississippi, doesn't explicitly advertise its haunted history, but ask any employee or regular guest and chances are high you'll hear plenty of spooky stories about sightings of apparitions on property. One of the most popular is that of Sallie White, a hotel chambermaid in the 1870s, who died at the hands of her husband following an argument and is said to still roam the halls of the Victorian wing carrying towels for guests. Several local groups, including the highly regarded Sisters Grimm, conduct ghost tours with stops at the hotel. The hotel will also host a Haunted Halloween Ball, put on by Sisters Grimm on Oct. 26.
Photo Credits:The Crescent Hotel: Eureka! Historic Hotels; The Copper Queen Hotel: Copper Queen Hotel Bar by Attribution-NoDerivs License;The Stanley Hotel: Stanley Hotel;The Lemp Mansion: The Lemp Mansion; The Menger Hotel: Menger Hotel