Hair in shower drains and questionable stains on bedsheets are usually the scariest things about hotels, but these hotels will have you screaming for a totally different reason.
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AS LOVERS of Halloween prepare to revel in the annual spookfest on Monday, we reveal the places that evoke thrills and chills all year round.
These are said to be some of the most haunted places in the United States, the epicentre of modern Halloween celebrations.
From chilling prisons to abandoned towns where murder victims linger, these spots are believed to be running high with paranormal activity — but they also have some pretty fascinating histories, for those who don’t believe the stories about what goes bump in the night.
OLD IDAHO STATE PENITENTIARY, BOISE, IDAHO
This grim building is said to be the most haunted spot in Idaho — probably because it was just as frightening during its heyday as the state penitentiary.
The prison operated for 101 years and was the scene of bloody prison riots and grisly executions of inmates who are now said to haunt the site.
Visitors have reported strange events such as the sensation of being touched, hearing whispers in hallways, and becoming overwhelmed with feelings of dread and despair, especially near the execution chamber.
Visitors will flock to Old Idaho State Penitentiary this weekend for events to mark Halloween, while the large city of Boise is an otherwise great stopover during a road trip through the Wild West at any time of year.
OLD CAHAWBA, ALABAMA
Cahawba was the first state capital of Alabama and a former cotton town that was abandoned after the Civil War. It’s now open to the public as the Old Cahawba Archeaological Site and filled with damp, decaying ruins of its former glory.
Ghosts of 19th century children, slaves and prisoners are said to haunt Old Cahawba, but one of the enduring ghost stories centres on Colonel CC Pegues, who died in 1860 and reportedly appears as a floating orb of light near the cedar groves behind his former home.
Old Cahawba is 23km from Selma. Visitors can wander through the ruins year-round but only the annual, 90-minute Haunted History Tour allows visitors to explore after dark.
The former mining town of Goodsprings, population 229, is home to the century-old Pioneer Saloon, which looks like a relic of the Wild West era. It’s a popular filming location and also a great place for a cocktail and some Texas-inspired food.
But the saloon is believed to be haunted by an array of ghosts — a gunshot victim, a cheating gambler, an old miner and even the ghost of film actor Carole Lombard, who was killed in a plane crash outside Goodsprings in 1942.
Visitors can take a year-round ghost tour of Goodsprings, beginning in nearby Las Vegas.
HOTEL DEL CORONADO, CALIFORNIA
The iconic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego has long been quite the celebrity hotspot, but it’s most famous for a particular guest who checked in a century ago and never left.
Kate Morgan was a young woman who stayed at the hotel in 1892 when tragedy struck — according to legend, Kate was waiting for a gentleman to join her, but after five lonely days she took her own life.
Guests and hotel staff have reported storage occurrence in Kate’s original third-floor guestroom, including flickering lights, a television that turns itself on and off, items that move on their own, doors that open and close, as well as unexplained breezes, scents, sounds and changes to temperature.
Kate Morgan’s room is the most requested guestroom at the Hotel Del Coronado. If you want a piece of the spooky action, book your stay in rooms 3327 or 3519.
This used to be known as the “toughest town in the West”, thanks to its enormous gold wealth that stirred the townspeople’s penchant for greed and gunplay.
The dangerous stagecoach route to nearby Virginia City was a target for murderous bandits — and ghosts of their victims are said to haunt the now-ghost town.
One of Bannack’s most famous ghostly inhabitants is Dorothy Dunn, who drowned in a pond in 1916, aged 16.
Visitors have claimed they’ve seen Dorothy in a blue gown staring out of windows in Bannack’s Meade Hotel. Sometimes, apparently, she laughs at people.
Bannack State Park is about 350km northwest of Yellowstone National Park and its campground is available year-round for stays and self-guided tours.
THE SILENT MOVIE THEATRE, CALIFORNIA
This charming 1940s theatre in West Hollywood, Los Angeles has a fascinating history — mostly due to the shocking deaths of former owners, who are said to haunt the place.
Original owner John Hampton opened the theatre in 1942 but closed it in the 1970s after he became sick from years of inhaling toxic chemicals used in film restoration.
Hampton died from cancer in 1990 and his friend Laurence Austin reopened the cinema — but in 1997, he was shot dead in the lobby by a hitman hired by his lover, theatre projectionist James Van Sickle, who was keen to inherit the theatre. Van Sickle and the hitman are serving life in prison.
The theatre, on North Fairfax Avenue, remains popular for its Cinefamily film screenings.
TRANS-ALLEGHENY LUNATIC ASYLUM, WEST VIRGINIA
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was the stuff of nightmares even before it became a popular ghost hunting site.
The huge, Gothic-inspired building in the city of Weston opened as psychiatric facility in 1864 and by the 1950s held more than 10 times the number of patients it was designed for.
Overcrowding led to inhumane conditions including poor sanitation, insufficient light and heating and patients being locked in cages. That’s not to mention the lobotomies, electroshock therapy and chemical treatments used on patients.
There were also reports of patients starting fires, attacking staff and killing each other.
Flashlight ghost tours of the asylum’s eerie halls are available all year.
HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT, CALIFORNIA
This iconic hotel from in the heart of historic Hollywood is said to have some A-list ghosts lurking in its rooms and corridors.
Visitors have claimed to have seen Monroe’s famous figure in the mirror that originally sat in her old favourite suite, while on the ninth floor, visitors claim to have heard the sound of Montgomery Clift, who lived here while filming From Here to Eternity, playing his trumpet.
The hotels’ Blossom Ballroom, which was the site of the first-ever Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, reportedly has a chilling cold spot and has been the site of orb sightings: supposedly an appropriately camera-ready spirit that shows up in both film and digital photography.
The iconic hotel is on Hollywood Boulevard, night near the TCL Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
MYRTLES PLANTATION, LOUISIANA
This former antebellum plantation in St Francisville is considered to be one of America’s most haunted houses and home to at least 12 ghosts.
There are many legends that surround the 220-year-old property, the most famous collection of stories feature Chloe, a former slave who had her ear chopped off by her master after she was caught eavesdropping.
In revenge, Chloe prepared a birthday cake laced with poisonous oleander leaves that killed two of the master’s daughters. Chloe was then hanged and thrown into the Mississippi River.
Historic records don’t support the legend of Chloe, but it’s said her ghost continues to roam the plantation and attracts crowds of morbidly curious visitors daily.
Myrtles Plantation is now home to a restaurant and bed and breakfast, and mystery tours run regularly.
Discover more intriguing places in the US by visiting visittheusa.com.au and for more spooky sites and events in LA, see discoverlosangeles.com.