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Nov. 19, 2021

Ep. 60: America's Most Haunted Hotels

Hotels are places of transition, whose rooms have seen intense passions, furious hatred, great joys, deep sorrows, and even murder. Not surprisingly, hotels are also places that seem to attract the spirits of their former tenants. 
From a golf course...

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Hotels are places of transition, whose rooms have seen intense passions, furious hatred, great joys, deep sorrows, and even murder. Not surprisingly, hotels are also places that seem to attract the spirits of their former tenants. 

From a golf course ghost in upstate New York to the super-haunted hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining; from the spirits of Lizzie Borden and her possible victims to the crooked cancer doctor who buried his specimens in a resort's backyard and the specter of one of the greatest comedians in Hollywood history, we take a twisted road trip through America's most haunted hotels...stopping, of course, at each for a spooky overnight stay.

Will you be able to make it until morning??
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In honor of us finally going on our honeymoon and traveling outside of the east coast for the first time since before COVID, I thought we’d tackle a fun roundup today of 5 of America’s MOST HAUNTED HOTELS!

Hotels, inns, and other limited-rental types of places are interesting because they’re meant to be a home away from home when one is travelling. You could know the place you’re visiting like the back of your hand, or it could be your first time there. You could be a former resident of the town or city, or you might not even speak the native language. But, no matter what, where you lay your head at night, if not in a friend or relative’s home, is meant to be a place of comfort and safety away from your normal surroundings. But, sometimes, these places have histories that are still quite alive even in the present. 

As writer Tom Ogden puts it in our main source material for this episode, Haunted Hotels: “Hotel rooms have been witness to passion, hate, misery, joy, life, sickness, and death. It’s easy to believe that some sort of residual energy from all those emotions has permeated the aether and lingers.” Today we’re covering hotels from America, but don’t be surprised if we branch out to more in the future - after all, the history of America is comparatively young compared to much of the world. 

Let’s start a little closer to our own home, and one hotel I’ve visited though haven’t stayed in - the Sagamore in Bolton Landing, New York. The Sagamore is located in the Adirondacks area, just outside of popular tourist destination Lake George. The Sag touts itself as “historic luxury”, and that’s a pretty good summation of the vibe. It was originally built in 1883 and contains touches of Victorian architecture and light opulence like marble-accented bathrooms, gorgeous views of Lake George, and its own 18-hole golf course. I recall there being whispers of it being haunted when we stopped by - most notably for a nice lunch in their outdoor area - but didn’t get to experience anything myself. However, many others have - in 2016 Today named it one of the 10 most haunted hotels in the country.

According to both Haunted Hotels and Haunted History Trail of New York State, there are a handful or two of most prolific spirits haunting the Sag to this day. You can find the first just off the hotel lobby area, and she’s said to be a woman in her early 20s named Lillian, apparently dressed in the high fashion of her time in a pinkish brown dress with lace at the waist and leg-of-mutton sleeves. These are the kind with the big poof at the shoulders and tight arms. It’s said she’s still waiting for her friends so they can all go boating - you might find her passing time in the Front Office area, which used to be an open porch, looking down on Lake George.

A ghost named Walter is the next prolific ghost at the Sag. He’s seen dressed in a three-piece brown suit and sporting a large and fancy walrus mustache, and often materializes in the elevator nearest the Concierge area. It’s said that he’s either on his way to, or returning from, where the card room used to be - now the first floor guest rooms. He’s apparently been spotted by many employees, and usually leaves behind the telltale stink of many stogies enjoyed in the lounge. 

Another common ghost sighting was that of a married couple that seemed to be a remnant from the first decade or so that the hotel was in operation. Sometimes this couple would sit patiently in the hotel restaurant’s reception area before completely disappearing...but other times, they were seen to enter the dining room before breaking into a fight, with the husband throwing the wife down to the ground. As she reached up to grab at him, the pair simply faded away. These sightings became less as the area they were commonly seen in was converted to more first-floor rooms, but it’s felt that they’re still lurking around, along with Walter. 

Perhaps the most commonly seen spirit at the Sagamore is of a young boy dressed in 1950s-era clothing running around the 18-hole golf course. According to the legend surrounding his story, this child would earn spare change by finding lost golf balls and returning them to the hotel’s pro shop. However, he was struck by a car one day after running out into the street after a ball, and tragically killed. He’s been on the course ever since, and enjoys causing mischief - it seems he often will snag a ball after it lands and hide behind a tree while the golfer searches for it, until tossing it at their feet with a laugh.

Next we’ll visit the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, notable for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining and a location used in the 1997 miniseries adaptation of the novel. Like the Sagamore, the Stanley also has what they call a “spirited” history. Inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley, who you may know as one of the creators of the Stanley Steamer, arrived in the Estes Valley in 1903 suffering from the symptoms of tuberculosis, called consumption in his day, seeking a place to recuperate and hopefully, heal. He was stunned to find that just one season in the area was needed to restore his health, no small feat for tuberculosis in these days, and so he kept returning to the valley, eventually opening the Stanley Hotel in 1909 alongside his wife, Flora with the goal of bringing east-coast sophistication to Colorado. Much of the hoi-polloi visited in the early days, including bandleader John Philip Souza, who tuned the hotel’s piano himself, and Harry Houdini, who performed his act at the hotel and left a trapdoor in its stage to this day as a remnant of his magic act. 

It wasn’t all fun and magic tricks, though: a 1911 explosion in room 217 blew chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson clear through the floor with two broken ankles. HOW? Well, at this time the hotel was powered by gas lighting, but power had been lost during a severe storm. Wilson entered the room to check on the lights, but she entered with a candle, so, boom. Though she survived this accident, she died 40 years later of an aneurysm in the very same room, and so many believe she still haunts the halls - and room 217. 

As it goes on the Stanley website, “By the 1970s the hotel’s splendor had faded due to lack of care and investment. It might have eventually succumbed to the wrecking ball, if not for a fortuitous visit by author Stephen King.” King has spoken a lot about his one-night stay at the Stanley over the years, but this is the main story he’s told: in 1974, he stayed overnight and had a horrific nightmare: “I dreamt of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.” Thus the terrifying Overlook Hotel and the character of Jack Torrance were born. 

The Stanley does have real ghosts, though - I mean, if you believe it. And them, too, because this is one of the only hotels I’ve ever heard of to have its own in-house ghost tour. You can also specially book certain “most haunted” rooms, including 401, 407, 428, and 217 - which, coincidentally, was the one King had booked the evening of his fortuitous nightmare. You might recognize it as room 237 in Kubrick’s Shining film. Guests state that in room 217 they’ll sometimes find their belongings have been unpacked by unseen forces, objects will move around on their own, and a woman’s voice can be heard in the room during the night. The spirit of what people believe to be Elizabeth has even been seen walking in the room and out right through a wall, where the door used to be. 

You might find the spirit of Lord Dunraven, who originally owned the land in Estes Valley that the Stanley resides on, in room 401, or maybe the ghost of a cowboy who likes to watch you sleeping in room 428. Wandering the hotel outside of your sleeping quarters? You might have experiences here, too. Disembodied sounds of children running, playing and laughing are often heard in the hallways without any source. The original Stanleys also seem to have never checked out of their pride and joy, with reports of Flora’s piano playing during the dead of night, and her being seen on the fourth floor...along with Freelan Stanley also having been captured in photos taken in the billiards room, which in life had been his favorite hangout spot.

If you’d like to visit the Stanley, give them a call to try and book room 217 and don’t forget a ghost tour. You can even watch The Shining over and over and over again on their in-house cable channel, or attend their yearly Halloween bash. Just make sure you eventually check out, yknow, alive.

We’ll check out a couple more spooktacular stays...after the break. 


Next let’s hop over to the Lizzie Borden House Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts, for a definitely ghoulish weekend stay. We’ll absolutely cover the Borden case in full detail on a later episode, but here are the basics: on August 4th, 1892, older couple Andrew and Abby Borden were found murdered in their home, the victims of a horrific axe murder death with Andrew receiving 10 or 11 strikes to the head and wife Abby receiving 17 direct hits to the back of her head. Scandal erupted at the possibility of Andrew’s daughter and Abby’s stepdaughter, Lizzie, having been the axe murderer herself...and we won’t spoil what transpired at Lizzie’s court trial, but let’s just say that the murderer was never officially caught.

The Borden House was eventually purchased and made into a Bed & Breakfast and Museum, and was recently sold again, which we’ve covered in previous news segments on the show. The B&B has always leaned into its notorious past and possibly haunted present, and that earned it the #2 spot on the list of the top 10 most haunted hotels in the world by USwitch. 

The house is said to have several resident spirits, including of course the murdered Andrew and Abby Borden, as well as Lizzie herself - when she isn’t haunting Maplecroft, the home she lived in after her trial. The Ghost Adventures boys stayed the night at the B&B back in 2011, and it was, of course, an explosive experience for the crew. 


Later, the crew has a seance. 


So it seems like the ghosts are saying that Lizzie got away with the double homicide.

The Borden family wasn’t new to murder, however. In 1848 Andrew’s uncle’s family was living next door, and his wife Eliza Borden apparently lost her mind and drowned both of their young children in the well out back. After killing her children, the murderous mother slit her own throat. Because of this, some think that there’s a darker force at work that may have possessed both Lizzie and her great aunt Eliza to commit their dark deeds. That’s the conclusion that the special “The Curse of Lizzie Borden” comes to, which you could find on Discovery Plus. So maybe, if you decide to stay the night at the Borden home...or even nearby...you should protect yourself against evil entities, and what they might have you do. 

The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is another that, like the Stanley and the Borden B&B, leans into its ghostly history. This hotel ALSO offers its own ghost tour, which you can find at americasmosthauntedhotel.com, and you can even attend their yearly Paranormal Weekends, next in this upcoming January or February. The Crescent was originally built in, you guessed it, 1886, as at the time America’s most luxurious resort hotel. Along with being a resort the hotel has also served as a girls’ college and cancer hospital, so the space has seen its fair share of lives and deaths. Some of the purported spirits, according to the hotel’s website, are as follows:

-Michael, an Irish stonemason, is said to haunt room 218, where he fell to his death when building the hotel
-Theodora, a former cancer patient, has been seen fumbling for her keys outside Room 419, as well as tidying up for guests when they leave the room
-Breckie Thompson, a 4-year-old child who died in the hotel due to complications from appendicitis, has been seen throughout the hotel - often bouncing a ball
-Dr. John Freemont Ellis, the hotel’s in-house doctor circa the late nineteenth century is most often seen or smelled, via his cherry pipe tobacco, near his former office, which is now room 212
-Morris, the famed hotel cat, was known as the “Hotel General Manager” for 21 years, and later buried on the hotel property. This little kitty is regularly seen and heard all around the property.

Some feel that, due to the hotel being built on Crescent Mountain, which is made mainly of limestone, it might be a coalescing place for paranormal energy, as many in the paranormal community believe that limestone has the ability to absorb and release electromagnetic and paranormal energies. Or maybe it’s the people that have stayed in the hotel that really made it as haunted as they claim. Dr. Norman Baker was a quack who worked in the building when it was a cancer hospital, claiming he had a cure for the disease. In 2019, archaeologists uncovered Baker’s “bottle grave” buried behind the hotel, full of bottles of Baker’s “secret cure formula” as well as preserved medical specimens like tumors and tissue that he surgically removed from patients, kept, and I guess eventually...buried. Since then, the hotel’s ghost tour claims, there’s been an uptick in activity especially in the area of the morgue, where dark figures have been spotted and people have reported cold spots and being touched. 

Our last haunted hotel today is the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, California. Now, we discussed the very haunted Roosevelt Hotel nearby in Hollywood in our “Haunted Hollywood” episode, but the Chateau Marmont may have just as many ghosts - including those of the famous and infamous.

The Chateau Marmont was constructed in 1929, as the film industry in the area was really picking up steam. It’s still in operation today as a hotel, though there was an announcement in 2020 that it would be converting to a members-only model. Til then, you can stay there in one of its rooms or bungalows...but don’t be surprised if you end up with a spectral roommate.

The most famous of the Chateau’s spirits is probably that of John Belushi, who died in Bungalow 3 in 1982 of a heroin and cocaine overdose at just 33 years old. Belushi, as you probably know, was a comedy superstar at the time, having burst onto the scene in the first years of Saturday Night Live and continued his career with hits like Animal House and The Blues Brothers. 

Many have claimed to see Belushi’s spirit at the Marmont, especially in and around Bungalow 3. One of the stories comes from Al Franken, who had written for SNL and was friends with Belushi himself. Franken stayed at Bungalow #3 just a week after Belushi’s death, which would’ve been a morbid enough experience, but in the middle of the night he awoke from a restless sleep to see the apparition of none other than John Belushi standing over him. He called out to his deceased friend, but by the time Franken got his glasses on, Belushi had vanished.

Another Belushi sighting was reported in 1999, when a family temporarily moved into the notorious bungalow while their home was being renovated. During their stay, they often found their young son laughing and giggling by himself. When asked what was so amusing, he would respond, “The funny man.” When his mother leafed through a book of the Chateau’s past celebrity guests, the child stopped her at a photo of John Belushi and said, “That’s the funny man!” 

Belushi wasn’t the only celebrity to die tragically at the Chateau, however. In 2004, famous photographer Helmut Newton was driving on Marmont Lane from the hotel to Sunset Boulevard when he suffered a fatal heart attack, causing him to lose control of the car and crash into the wall of the driveway. He was pronounced dead soon after. Several long-term guests of the Chateau have stated they’ve seen a man who looks strikingly like Newton had in life wandering around by the bungalows looking dazed, and sometimes this apparition is bleeding. Others have heard the phantom clicks of a camera by the pool, but have seen no culprit. Perhaps it was Newton’s spirit, taking pleasure in his photography just as he had in life.

And that’s it for today! Sean, have you ever stayed in a hotel that claimed to be haunted?



It’s True Crime Time.

On November 15th Alex Jones, famous conspiracy theorist and all-around chili-addled douchebag, was finally found liable for defamation in a suit brought by families of some of the 26 victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The suit, as filed against Jones in Connecticut in 2019, states that on his radio show and his website, Infowars, Jones had repeatedly insisted that the families who lost loved ones during the mass shooting were actors who faked the deaths of their relatives. Jones continued to push this conspiracy theory through last year. 

This conspiracy, much like that of the Boston Marathon Bombing, claims that these events were a “false flag” operation created by the government to assist in the removal of American constitutional rights, in this case, the 2nd Amendment - right to bear arms. According to Jones, this false flag included many actors who “pretended” to be the devastated parents and family members of the victims, and some insisted the victims never existed at all.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut told MSNBC, "These families have been victimized over and over again. First, by losing their loved ones, and second, by having to deal with the terror of a conspiracy theory movement that thinks they are all actors, thinks they are all politically motivated, thinks this was all done as a stage act to try to promote a political agenda in Washington."

Followers of the conspiracy and of Jones have harassed the families of the Sandy Hook victims, including victim Noah Pozner’s father Leonard having to move multiple times due to death threats, with one devotee of Jones and Infowars being sentenced to 5 months in prison for sending messages to Pozner like “Death is coming to you real soon”. This, even though Jones admitted in his deposition that the shooting really did occur, despite what he called “a form of psychosis” where he believed everything was staged. "It's sick,” said Senator Murphy, “and I'm glad that, at least today, several families from Sandy Hook have their day in court and have been able to reach some justice.”

We’ll see how much Jones will end up paying out to the families, but I’m glad, like Murphy said, they’ve seen some justice in this regard. This shooting happened just a few towns away from us, while my own father was a teacher, and we both have seen firsthand the absolute devastation and trauma it’s caused to this area. To claim that it’s all a fraud would be laughable, if it weren’t so incredibly offensive. 



That’s it for this episode of Ain’t It Scary with Sean and Carrie! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @aintitscary, and check out our website at aintitscary.com. You can support the show by supporting our sponsors, and becoming a patron at www.patreon.com/aintitscary. And please, subscribe to the show and throw us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts...we’ll be forever grateful. Don’t forget to screenshot your 5-star reviews and share with us on social media for your chance to win a gift straight from us!

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See you next Thursday! 

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