Hotels Haunted by Celebrities
You’ve checked into the Beverly Hills Roosevelt hotel, donned your chicest outfit, and are ready to hit Tinseltown. On your way out, you stop to admire your fresh look in a lobby mirror when eerily, you see a ghostly figure next to your reflection—that of the world-famous blond, Marilyn Monroe.
Tales of haunted hotels abound, of course, especially in older establishments like the Roosevelt. Usually, the haunting spirit is that of a random person—someone who died there, perhaps, or someone who simply doesn’t want to check out. But some of these hotel spooks—like Sid Vicious, Anna Nicole Smith, and Marilyn (who’s specter has also been reported at Lake Tahoe’s Cal Neva Resort)—became famous before their deaths. And conveniently, some of them inhabit easily booked hotels.
So who are these A-listers who have come back from the great beyond to haunt hotels? Elvis Presley, for one. People all over the world have laid claim to seeing the still-living King, of course, but his spirit is popular, too. It’s been spotted in his old performance space at the Las Vegas Hilton—just waiting, perhaps, to do one more show.
Another singer, Janis Joplin, has a different kind of connection to the hotel she’s said to haunt. It was in the Landmark Hotel (now the Highland Gardens Hotel) in Hollywood that she died of an overdose in 1970.
Naturally, some hotels don’t like to discuss the celebrities—either living or dead—who stay with them. The Roosevelt maintains that their hotel isn’t haunted by anyone, celebrity or otherwise. And the Algonquin Hotel—where writer Dorothy Parker is said to lurk—says it has no documented occurrences of a haunting. (On the flip side, other members of the Historic Hotels of America proudly publicize their ghosts.)
As with any unexplained phenomena, there are more rumors than documented cases. So perhaps these celebrity spirits don’t exist, and the sightings have proliferated because diehard fans don’t want to accept that their beloved star is gone. But maybe there’s some truth to them. After all, why would so many guests insist that what they saw was real?
Regardless, there’s nothing more exhilarating than a spirit surprise around Halloween—especially if it’s a star from days gone by. So grab your Ouija board, pick a hotel, and prepare for an Academy Award–winning ghost hunt.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California
The Star: Marilyn Monroe first stayed at the hotel when her modeling career began, posing on the hotel pool’s diving board for a suntan lotion ad. She subsequently frequented it throughout the rest of her short-lived career and always stayed in the same suite overlooking the pool.
The Haunting: You don’t need to try to find Marilyn’s old room. The sightings of her ghost are said to happen in a mirror near the elevators—a mirror that used to hang in her room.
Bonus Haunt: Actor Montgomery Clift is rumored to haunt his former ninth-floor suite—number 928—with reports of bugle playing and line-rehearsing heard in the halls just outside.
Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada
The Star: A regular performer at the Las Vegas Hilton from 1969 through 1976, Elvis Presley took up residence in the hotel’s penthouse suite. Recently, the LVH was purchased by Westgate. The new Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino continues to pay tribute to Presley with a permanent exhibit of artifacts (his high school yearbooks, his first stage outfit) as well as live shows.
The Haunting: “Elvis has not left the building,” say ghost aficionados, who claim that the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll still hangs around backstage at his former performance space, perhaps waiting to appear once more before a theater of screaming fans.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida
The Star: There’s no word whether Anna Nicole Smith was a frequent guest of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, but there’s no doubting her connection to the place she spent her final hours.
The Haunting: Less than two years after her death, Smith has already been spotted wandering the hotel’s lobby in spirit form. Why not in the room where she passed on? Perhaps she’s confused, since the hotel gutted and renovated that suite, then renumbered all the rooms in an effort to deter fans from trying to book it.
CalNeva Resort, Spa & Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada
The Star: Owner of this Lake Tahoe retreat from 1960 to 1963, Frank Sinatra worked tirelessly to bring the resort up to the standards of his Rat Pack posse. But he lost Cal Neva in 1963, when authorities became aware of the presence of mobster Sam Giancana on the property and the state subsequently revoked his gaming license.
The Haunting: There have been reports of Sinatra’s ghost in Lakeview Cabin #5, a modest structure overlooking Lake Tahoe that Sinatra once called home.
Bonus Haunt: Having been a frequent visitor to Cal Neva during Sinatra’s ownership, Marilyn Monroe’s ghost has been spotted in the resort’s swimming pool and in Lakeview Cabin #3, where she used to stay.
Algonquin Hotel in New York City
The Star: Dorothy Parker was a frequent patron of Midtown’s Algonquin Hotel, when she and an elite group of literati—the Round Table—met regularly for lunch starting in 1919 to discuss literature.
The Haunting: It’s said that when the hotel completed renovations of its attic space, there were a series of unexplained noises emanating from the empty room, and a photograph of Parker fell off the wall, shattering the glass. Perhaps Parker misses the daily gatherings with her former crew.
Bonus Haunt: The apparition of Harpo Marx, another well-known member of the Round Table, is also said to lurk around the Algonquin.
Chelsea Hotel, New York City
The Star: Bass guitarist for legendary punk band the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious was living in room 100 of Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel with his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in 1978, when the musician was accused of her murder. Released on bail, he died of a lethal drug overdose before a verdict was delivered.
The Haunting: Without having a chance to prove his innocence—or perhaps with a guilty conscience over the murder—Sid is said to still inhabit the Chelsea Hotel. Most sightings place him around the hotel’s elevators, perhaps waiting for his long lost girlfriend to return.
Bonus Haunt: Dylan Thomas, an acclaimed Welsh poet, is also said to haunt the halls of the Chelsea Hotel, where he fell into a coma that eventually led to his death.
The Highland Gardens in Los Angeles, California
The Star: After losing a battle with heroin addiction, the blues singer Janis Joplin overdosed and died alone in her room at Highland Gardens (then, the Landmark Hotel)—room #105.
The Haunting: Some sightings spot Joplin hanging around the room where she was found dead, while others have placed her in the hotel’s lobby. Some say if you mention her name in the lobby, doors slam and photographs fly.
Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, Illinois
The Star: After moving from Brooklyn to Chicago and establishing his name in the center of the bootlegging world, Al Capone allegedly used the Congress Plaza Hotel as the headquarters for his organization.
The Haunting: The Congress Plaza Hotel has had multiple sightings of Capone and others. Perhaps in the afterlife, the gangster is trying to recapture the criminal power he once wielded.
Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
The Star: Brooklyn-born mobster Bugsy Siegel played a key role in the development of the extravagant Flamingo Hotel—allegedly Siegel’s attempt to finally make an honest living. But he spent far beyond his means, angering many of his investors. Soon after the casino’s anticlimactic opening, he was shot to death in his girlfriend’s Beverly Hills home.
The Haunting: Perhaps Siegel haunts the Flamingo because he never had the opportunity to see it flourish, or because the debt it brought upon him was a factor in his demise. Visitors to the hotel have reported a ghostly figure wandering around the garden, where there’s a Bugsy memorial.