Haunted Hotels

From The Inspiration For ‘The Shining’ To Colombia’s Suicide Palace, Step Inside The World’s Seven Most Haunted Hotels

Published July 1, 2022
Updated March 12, 2024

Experience the terror of the Mermaid Inn, the Hotel Cecil, and more of the world's most haunted hotels — and learn their stories of murder, mayhem, and mystery.

To this day, scores of hotels around the world purport to be haunted. Some claim that malevolent spirits stalk their grounds. Others claim that the grisly crimes that unfolded in their halls in decades past left an evil energy behind. And some claim to house guests who checked in decades or even centuries ago — and never checked out.

Meanwhile, countless thrill-seekers make a point of spending a night in one of these haunted hotels — if they can bear the horror.

From the L.A. budget hotel that’s attracted several serial killers to the Rocky Mountain lodge that scared horror writer Stephen King into writing The Shining, these haunted hotels are not for the fainthearted traveler.

Why Los Angeles’ Hotel Cecil Is One Of The Most Haunted Hotels In The World

Cecil Hotel

Wikimedia CommonsThe Hotel Cecil first opened in 1927.

Downtown Los Angeles isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one ponders the paranormal, but a quaint budget stay on Skid Row seems to be a hotbed for it.

The Cecil Hotel or Hotel Cecil is known for its litany of unnerving incidents, seeing its first tragedy just a few years after it first opened its doors in 1927. Since then, its walls have witnessed 16 murders, a slew of suicides, and even housed one of the most notorious serial killers in American history.

The Cecil Hotel saw its first suicide in 1934 when Army Sergeant Louis D. Borden slit his own throat with a razor. Less than four years later, Roy Thompson of the Marine Corps jumped off the hotel’s roof and his body was found on the skylight of a neighboring building.

A CNN segment on the haunted hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The bloodshed continued. In September 1944, 19-year-old Dorothy Purcell woke up in her hotel room in the dead of night with abdominal pain. When she went to the bathroom, she gave birth to a baby boy — entirely unaware that she had been pregnant in the first place. Horrified, she threw it out of the window and onto the roof of the adjacent building, believing that the newborn was dead anyway.

In 1962, a 65-year-old man named George Giannini who was passing by the hotel was crushed by the falling body of a 27-year-old woman who had just jumped off of its roof.

Just two years later, a retired phone operator named “Pigeon” Goldie Osgood, who was known for feeding her titular friends in nearby Pershing Square, was found raped, stabbed, and strangled to death in her hotel room. Her murder was never solved.

According to the nonprofit Public Media Group of Southern California, the Cecil has since been renamed by locals as “The Suicide.” But the hotel’s streak of misfortune only gets weirder from here.

Richard Ramirez Mug Shot

San Quentin State Prison/Wikimedia CommonsSerial killer Richard Ramirez spent a couple nights in the Cecil while in the middle of his killing spree.

As the surrounding neighborhood of Skid Row only worsened throughout the 1970s and 1980s, two notorious serial killers checked into the hotel. One was none other than Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. the “Night Stalker,” who is considered one of the deadliest killers in American history.

Ramirez would reportedly return to the Cecil Hotel after a killing, leaving his blood-soaked clothes in the dumpsters behind it, and then walk into the hotel either naked or in his underwear, completely unbothered by the hotel staff.

Less than a decade after this, a second serial killer checked into the hotel in 1991, Australian strangler Jack Unterweger.

But even these tragedies don’t quite measure up to the bizarre case of 21-year-old Elisa Lam, who was found naked and decomposing in the hotel’s water tank in 2013.

The now-infamous elevator footage of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel.

Early one morning in February 2013, Cecil Hotel guests were met low water pressure and odd-smelling water. When the hotel staff inspected the tanks, they found Lam, who had been missing for three weeks by that point.

Not only could the coroner not discern a clear cause of Lam’s death, however, but a video soon surfaced of the young woman exhibiting strange and erratic behavior in the hotel’s elevator shortly before she vanished. The now-infamous footage shows Lam entering and exiting the elevator multiple times, even checking behind her as though she were being followed.

Elisa Lam Podcast
History Uncovered Podcast
Episode 17: The Disturbing Death Of Elisa Lam
When Elisa Lam was found inexplicably dead in February 2013, investigators were baffled — then the security footage taken just before she vanished only made things stranger.

In the end, Lam’s case has never been solved — like so many others whose lives ended at this haunted hotel.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Margaritoff, Marco. "From The Inspiration For ‘The Shining’ To Colombia’s Suicide Palace, Step Inside The World’s Seven Most Haunted Hotels." AllThatsInteresting.com, July 1, 2022, https://allthatsinteresting.com/haunted-hotels. Accessed May 18, 2024.