Doors that slam by themselves, lights that flicker and turn off, bone-chilling breezes, creaky rocking chairs and the sound of cackling laughter echoing in an empty room. Some guests get more than they bargain for at some “unique” hotels. Here are some of the most haunted hotels in California, along with links in case you’d like to book your own spooky stay.

The Ahwahnee Hotel

The Yosemite National Park Ahwahnee Hotel is popular, often booking up 6 months or even a year in advance. Guests don’t seem dissuaded by the resident ghost of Mary Curry Tresside who used to operate the hotel. She lived on the sixth floor, which now holds guest rooms. She is often still seen there checking on guests and she is particularly fond of room 605. There’s also a fourth floor suite where housekeepers have seen a ghostly figure slowly rocking in a rocking chair, even though there is no rocking chair in the room. John F. Kennedy stayed in the suite in 1962 and asked for a rocking chair during his visit (he loved rocking chairs, gave them as gifts and brought one on Air Force One) and housekeepers wonder if it is his spirit.

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The Queen Anne Hotel

The Queen Anne Hotel was one of San Francisco’s finishing schools for girls which was built in 1890. Miss Mary was a well-loved educator who taught upper class girls the norms of etiquette and decorum, and loved her job and the girls. Some say she was mourned by everyone when she died unexpectedly just a few years after the school had opened, and other accounts say that her heart was broken when the school closed. Either way, Headmistress Miss Mary Lake is reportedly still doing her job on the fourth floor, particularly in room 410 which used to be her office. Guests have returned to their rooms to find their suitcases unpacked, clothes hung up, and the faint sounds of the lobby piano being played can be heard. The apparition reportedly tucks in the blankets around sleeping travelers to make sure they don’t get cold, and she has been spotted wandering up and down the hallways and even looking in the mirror. Rather than getting an uneasy feeling guests believe her spirit to be gentle and kind, looking after people.

Hollywood Roosevelt

Marilyn Monroe lived at this hotel in the late 1920’s for two years when her modeling career was just taking off. Staff put a photo of Marilyn opposite a full length mirror that she used to use, so her likeness is reflected in it. Some guests report seeing her real face mirrored as well. Montgomery Clift is sometimes reportedly heard playing his trombone in Room 928 where he stayed when filming From here to Eternity, but when the door is flung open there is no one in the room. There are also reports of a ghostly little girl in a blue dress, Humphrey Bogart, and several other old Hollywood types. Notice anything uncanny about this hotel? It sure seems a lot like Disney’s “Tower of Terror” hotel to me. (Picture at the top of the page).

Hotel del Coronado

The Hotel Del, as locals affectionately call it has a ghost story so famous it is right on the hotel’s website. A beautiful young woman by the name of Kate Morgan checked into the hotel in 1892 and waited for her estranged husband to join her. Five days later, she was found shot dead on a staircase leading to the beach. Some say her lonely spirit haunts her old room and one visiting couple even found their covers ripped off in the middle of the night of their Valentine’s Day stay. She is generally good-natured in her pranks though. The TV turns on and off without prompting, cold spots are found in odd places, sounds of low talking have been heard in rooms where no guests are staying, and cool breezes are felt even when the windows are closed. Kate ghost has also been reportedly seen walking forlornly along the beach, down the halls, and in another guestrooms.

The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary was once a very grand ocean liner that ferried royalty and stars, and was then painted grey while she carried military troops during WWII. She was nicknamed “The Grey Ghost” because of her association with the terrors of war. After many disasters, the vessel became known as a haunted ship and in 1967 the ship made her last berth in Long Beach. Paranormal tours are offered today, and the ship is also a floating hotel. What’s so spooky? There are reported to be over a hundred spirits on it. Some guests report seeing swimmers in the First Class swimming pool, even though there has been no water in it for over 30 years. Wet footprints have been spotted along with ladies dressed in their 1930’s finest swimming suits, and some have seen the spirit of a little girl carrying her beloved Teddy Bear. The 2nd class pool is reported to have the ghost of a second little girl named Jackie, who drowned in the pool during a sailing. Her laughter is heard along with splashes. The Engine Room’s “Door 13” has crushed more than one person to death. Wearing blue overalls, a teenage crew member was crushed during a drill in 1966, and is still reportedly seen walking near the door today before disappearing. There are also reports of sudden cold areas, water taps turning on, lights turning on and off, a baby boy’s cry in what was long ago a playroom, a tall dark-haired man and elegantly dressed woman that dance and then disappear. There are tours you can take on the ship to get a behind the scenes look at the paranormal activity. Click here for details and tickets.

Have you or would you stay in a haunted hotel?

Next up: Haunted Hotels – England Edition