You May Just Sleep Like the Dead
Most ghosts seem to be agoraphobic; they're shuddery shut-ins, definitely unwilling to travel. That means you'll have to visit their home turf if you want to commune with the dead. Browse our list of the country's most haunted hotels, but beware: Even the most publicity-hungry spook occasionally grows tired of the public appearance treadmill and pulls a no-show.
Old School Hollywood Haunts
While Marilyn Monroe impersonators pose for tourists' snapshots outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, the film icon's ghost is said to reside across the street at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a 12-story Hollywood landmark opened in 1927. Marilyn reputedly haunts the hotel's poolside, uber-exclusive nightclub, Tropicana. Unless you're a hotel guest or minor celeb, you won't get past the velvet rope. But there's hope for ghost hunters who prefer blondes. Near the lobby's mezzanine-level gift shop, Monroe's voluptuous reflection has appeared in a full-length mirror relocated from her favorite suite.
Still, Monroe's isn't the only restless spirit said to be permanently checked in to the hotel. Guests may also encounter the tortured soul of actor Montgomery Clift; many have claimed to hear his trombone playing in the ninth floor hallways. Fans should request Clift's preferred digs, room 928.
Room rates at the Roosevelt have skyrocketed in recent years, and it's certain you'll need a movie star's bank account to afford a romp in the hotel's top-floor Gable-Lombard Suite, where overnighters report strong psychic and sexual energy.
Delaware Valley Disturbances
The frights begin before check-in at the Logan Inn in New Hope, PA Recently arrived guests report seeing the specter of a little girl wandering the parking lot. Built in 1722 as a tavern, and later converted to an inn, the Logan, and its spirits, are legendary in a Colonial-era town many consider America's most haunted.
Sleep in room 6 and you'll bunk down with Emily, the long dead mother of a former owner of the building. Emily's ghost, perfumed with a hint of lavender, plays spine-chilling tricks with the room's heater and rearranges your luggage.
You won't need a ghost hunter cam to capture the oft-photographed glowing orbs hovering in the lobby and hallways. After all, the building has nearly 300 years of psychic energy juicing its illuminated spheres. As you ponder the paranormal in the hotel's tavern, watch for the apparition of a Revolutionary War soldier, marching to the beat of his own phantom drum - another frequently sighted ghostly guest.
If the price tags in Santa Fe's galleries aren't scary enough for you, book a stay at "The City Different's" haunted adobe fortress, Hotel La Fonda. The Santa Fe Trail's storied end-of-the-line hitchin' and sleepin' post began its 200-year-plus downtown tenancy as the rowdy Exchange Hotel. Gunfights frequently erupted inside, while out back, convicted killers swung from the gallows. Today, the spirits of the Old West are said to inhabit La Fonda's lobby and bar.
The current building dates to the 1920s, but its paranormal roots run deep. In the 1850s, a businessman lost his fortune in the hotel's gambling hall. Penniless and suicidal, he jumped to his death down a deep well, a hole currently covered by the hotel's colorful La Pazuela Restaurant. Today, while your guacamole is prepared tableside, keep an eye out for the businessman's ghost, sometimes seen in the center of the dining room, leaping and disappearing into thin air.
Rocky Mountain Shine
Spooking Stephen King is no small feat. But during an overnight stay here in the 1970s, The Stanley Hotel managed to do just that. Overlooking the Rocky Mountain town of Estes Park, CO, the grand old Stanley inspired the fictional Overlook Hotel, the eerie setting for King's novel, The Shining. The building sits on land originally owned by the British Fourth Earl of Dunraven, who once maintained a private hunting reserve on the property. Irate locals and legal battles drove him out, paving the way for famed automaker F.O. Stanley, who opened the Georgian-style hotel in 1909.
The bitter Lord Dunraven haunts the 4th floor, his ghost particularly fond of terrorizing guests in rooms 401, 407 and 418. Lights switch on and off mysteriously; furniture moves around by itself. In addition to Dunraven, the ghosts of children have also been heard playing in the hallway, just outside the doors. And if you've always harbored a secret desire to speak in tongues, request room 412. Here a guest claims to have been possessed by an evil entity, driving him to speak in tongues.
As for Stephen King, he is said to have been tormented by the ghost of a hotel maid, who apparently died in his room, 217. The Stanley celebrates its apparitions with a daily guided tour, though "Shining" fans may be disappointed to discover the hotel bar does not pour "redrum."
New York's Finest ... Frights
From Mark Twain to Andy Warhol, countless writers, musicians and artists have famously found inspiration within the red brick walls of New York City's Hotel Chelsea. In addition to its storied occupants, the 12-story "cauldron of creativity," erected in 1884, is also known for its ghosts. Janis Joplin once rasped, "A lot of funky things happen in the Chelsea." Indeed. Actress Sarah Bernhardt reportedly slept in a coffin while living here.
Thomas Wolfe's presence has been felt on the 8th floor, while the spirit of Dylan Thomas, who drank away his final days at the Chelsea, seems to have stayed long past check-out time. Board the east elevator and you may share a lift with the ghost of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, suspected of stabbing his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death in room 100. Roughly half of the Chelsea's rooms (no 2 alike) are occupied by long-term residents, meaning your neighbors may be a bit more eccentric than your typical chain hotel clientele.
The Spooky Jersey Shore
Cape May is a picturesque beach town on the Jersey Shore. But inside many of the town's stately Victorian homes, are restless spirits looking for peace. The Peter Shields Inn, a boutique inn and upscale restaurant, is one of these haunted spots. Visitors have said they've felt the overwhelming presence of a number of ghostly spirits, including the real-estate developer Peter Shields and his teenage son who is said to roam the inn's basement.
In the days of the Spanish exploration of the New World, the beaches along Galveston, TX, were referred to as a "the Island of Doom" because of frequent shipwrecks. Hotel Galvez harbors numerous restless spirits starting with that of Bernardo de Galvez, whose portrait hangs in the foyer watching over guests. Another sad spirit is said to lurk in the garden and roam the halls mourning her long-lost love who died at sea. The beach's other ghosts include that of a young nun, Sister Katherine, who drowned along with 9 young orphans when attempting to move to higher ground during a raging hurricane in 1900. Locals tell tales of a figure in a black habit walking the sea wall and watching for storms while her young charges play mischievous tricks on the guests back at the hotel.