LOS ANGELES (
) -- You won't always read it on the hotel's Web site, and there will be no mention of it under the amenities tab of Expedia's booking page.
Some of the world's most famous haunted hotels will rarely publicize the fact that they're hotspots for both the living and the dead, but if you manage to get a concierge or manager away from his official duties, you'll manage to extract some hair-raising stories and sightings of the long-since departed.
Grand ghouls in S.F:
Call it Presidential Paranormal Activity, but
has been a Ghostbuster landmark ever since Warren Harding died there while holding office in 1923. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison and Rutherford B. Hayes managed to both check in and check out.
The Palace Hotel San Francisco is the site of several ghost stories.
The Palace Hotel is a San Francisco monument of architecture and phantom rumors, operated by
Luxury Collection. It has a Tiffany-glass-domed garden court flanked by marble-wrapped columns that's popular for its position connecting the Financial District to SoMa (South of Market) and nearby Embarcadero.
Destroyed in the 1906 earthquake following the great fire, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso swore he would never return to San Francisco following his stay and Earth-shaking performance as Don Jose in "Carmen" at the San Francisco Opera. Today the hotel is rumored to contain one very haunted guest room, as well as hair-raising stories of the night King Kalakaua of Hawaii spent a night there after he died in 1891.
Sicilian saints and sinners:
The frescoed chapels and pin-drop silent staircases of this former monastery-turned-grand-hotel in Sicily's Taormina have become a summer hotspot for European globetrotters and five-star ghost trackers. The glass-enclosed lobby and elaborate courtyard observatory of
is lined with terra-cotta stone floors, along with expansive hallways with 20-foot ceilings decorated in period Italian furnishings that take on an especially scary feel any time after midnight.
The hotel is divided into two buildings, a newer (19th century) hotel tower with sweeping views of the Teatro Antico (Greek theater) to temperamental Mount Etna, featuring a long, dark corridor of the former monastery where modern-day guests are rumored to have seen and heard lingering chants, footsteps and prayers of its former inhabitants.
Over the years, the hotel has been poetically described by Goethe as well as luring the likes of Wagner and modern-day celebs to the hotel's Michelin-star restaurant and formal gardens of terraced lavender and bougainvillea. Those looking for a close encounter of the post-mortem kind should book into one of the twin or double-bedded rooms in the convent wing where the Dominican monks once slept.
Del's eternal guests:
Southern California seems to be a hotbed of paranormal activity, but, in most cases, the stories simply equate to unsubstantiated, harmless sightings of Marilyn roaming the hallways of the Hollywood Roosevelt or Rachmaninoff playing an impromptu sonata at the Beverly Hills Hotel. But San Diego's
boasts so much ghoulish activity that it's become a poltergeist hotspot.
Haunted by previous guest Kate Morgan, who committed suicide in 1892 after a five-night stay waiting for an unrequited love, her spirit is responsible for "fleeting appearances and inexplicable antics" that include sudden temperature changes and flickering TVs.
Coronado's in-house historian, Christine Donovan, conveys a story from a visiting business executive: "At about 2 a.m., I was awakened by exceedingly cold temperatures and the ceiling fan working at high speed. The fan remained on for about 30 seconds and then stopped. Later, I awoke to find that all of the bed pillows had been stacked, pyramid-style, on top of my computer."
Go not into that gentle night:
It's been a New York cultural landmark for artsy bohemia since the early 20th century, luring pop luminaries like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and, most famously, Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, who was accused of murdering girlfriend Nancy Spungen in Room 100 shortly before Halloween in 1978.
On the register of National Historic Places,
is a classic rock-and-roll pad with rooms that feature apartment-style kitchenettes and eerie living rooms with elaborate rococo furnishings that seem to feel at home with lingering guests like Thomas Wolfe, who died in 1938 and is rumored to still haunt the eighth floor.
Perhaps the most ironic twist of fate, poet and writer Dylan Thomas, famous for his lamentation of death in "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," spent his final night of life at the hotel just a few days following Halloween 1953. Today, a plaque adorns the outside of the hotel marking the writer's life -- and afterlife -- as a permanent guest.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.