Haunted Hotels

The World’s 7 Most Haunted Hotels, From The Inspiration For ‘The Shining’ To Colombia’s Suicide Palace

Published October 24, 2019
Updated July 26, 2021

Step inside the most haunted hotels in the world — home to murder, mystery, and perhaps even the paranormal.

Before making their next travel plans, some thrill-seekers might consider spending a night in one of these haunted hotels — if they can bear it.

Some of these stays claim to host guests who checked in years ago — and never checked out. From the L.A. budget hotel that’s attracted serial killers and several murders to the Rocky Mountain lodge that scared horror writer Stephen King into writing “The Shining,” these haunts are not for the sleepy traveler.

The Haunted Hotel Cecil In L.A. That Has A Sordid Past

Cecil Hotel

Wikimedia CommonsThe Hotel Cecil, a budget stay in downtown L.A., 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 following.



Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 17: The Disturbing Death of Elisa Lam, also available on iTunes and Spotify.

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

Marco Margaritoff
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.