New Orleans' Haunted Hotels

In New Orleans, reminders of human mortality are never far from view. The city's graves have traditionally been built above ground, both in keeping with Catholic Latin and French custom and because New Orleans is mostly at or below sea level. Today, walled cemeteries are common tourist destinations. As a port city, New Orleans has always been a boisterous place, where pirates, prostitutes, gamblers, and characters of all stripes could find a comfortable home. The city's reputation as a home for voodoo is well founded; it is the birthplace of legendary voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. Not surprisingly, many of the city's hotels are purportedly home to restless spirits. Guests at the Dauphine Orleans (415 Dauphine St., French Quarter 504/586–1800 or 800/521–7111) report seeing a dancing woman in the courtyard and the spirit of a patron roaming the grounds, a reminder of the days when there was a brothel here. The grandfather clock in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St., French Quarter 504/523–3341 or 800/535–9595) is said to be haunted by the ghost of its maker, and in the Garden District's Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave., Uptown 504/899–9308 or 800/445–9308), a former owner—who died in 1898—is occasionally still seen by guests. Hurricane Katrina was only the most recent catastrophe to befall New Orleans; yellow fever was a scourge on the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Lafitte Guest House (1003 Bourbon St., French Quarter 504/581–2678 or 800/331–7971) is only one hotel in which victims of the disease are said to linger. Of course you can't talk about the haunted hotels of New Orleans without mentioning the Bourbon Orleans Hotel (717 Orleans, French Quarter 504/523–2222). Once a ballroom, and then convent, the storied building is said to house apparitions of former tenants, like the Confederate soldier roaming the sixth and seventh floors, and the dancer seen swaying underneath the crystal chandelier in the hotel's ballroom. There are a number of tour operators that cater to those with an interest in the supernatural, but if you stay at the right hotel, you may not need their services.

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