12 Famous Hotels With Scary Histories

12 Famous Hotels With Scary Histories

Marcel Stevens

Marcel Stevens

Marcel has over 12 years in journalism who enjoys writing, jogging, reading and tennis.


Checkout time is never o’clock.

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1.

The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles has been linked to numerous murders, suicides, and unexplained disappearances.


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Perhaps the most widely known incident is the death of Elisa Lam, a young woman whose body was found in the water tank of the hotel roof. Although it attracted numerous internet conspiracy theories, her death was ruled an accidental drowning, with the coroner citing her bipolar disorder as a likely contributing factor.

Other incidents include the unsolved murder of Goldie Osgood, a woman who was found stabbed, strangled, and raped in her room. Another woman also threw her newborn baby from her hotel window to his death, an unidentified man’s body was found outside the hotel in 2015, and the hotel is also home to many suicides. Serial killer Richard Ramirez (dubbed “The Night Stalker”) also reportedly stayed at the Cecil for some time.


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The Cecil Hotel was rebranded as “Stay on Main” in 2011. However, the hotel closed its doors in 2017. As of 2021, it is being redeveloped into a low-income housing complex.

2.

The Hotel Carter in Manhattan had a notorious reputation for being one of the worst hotels in the city before its eventual closure in 2014.


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Initially called the Dixie Hotel, it was widely dubbed as the “dirtiest hotel in New York City.” A few notable incidents include a young guest burning to death after falling asleep while smoking, a woman being pushed out a window to her death, and one of the hotel’s clerks being fatally stabbed by a coworker on site.


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3.

The National Hotel in Washington, DC was known for a mysterious disease that reportedly inflicted as many as 400 people and caused nearly three dozen deaths.


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Among those who died were Rep. John Montgomery of Pennsylvania and Rep. John Quitman of Mississippi.

Known as the National Hotel epidemic, the strange illness affected guests at the hotel in the late 1850s. Although there were rumors of deliberate poisonings, experts today generally believe the deaths were likely caused by the hotel’s inadequate sewage system.


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4.

The Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta was the site of the deadliest hotel fire in US history.


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The fire happened on December 7, 1946. It killed 119 people and injured at least 90 more. Authorities never agreed on the exact cause of the fire, but possible contributing factors include the open stairways and lack of sprinklers and alarms. The building was initially advertised as “absolutely fireproof.”


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5.

In 1958, an American businessman was accused of beating another man to death in a suite in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.


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The case made international headlines and resulted in a year-long trial. T.A.D. Jones Jr. was found dead in his suite on May 8, 1958. His body was severely bruised, and the autopsy revealed that he died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. US businessman Joseph Crowley, an acquaintance of Jones’, was subsequently arrested on the charge of “inflicting bodily injuries resulting in death.” Crowley was acquitted in 1959 — however, he died mere months later.


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No foul play was suspected in Crowley’s death, according to the coroner

6.

Guests Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison were found murdered in their rooms in 1980 at the Amana Holiday Inn in Williamsburg, Iowa.


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A housekeeper reportedly found the victims’ bodies in a “blood-spattered” room 260, face down on the bed and their skulls beaten. Rose was 22 and Roger was 32. The case remains unsolved.


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The hotel was later renamed.

7.

Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, in their room at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan in 1978.


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Spungen was found stabbed to death on the bathroom floor of Room 100, the Chelsea room where the couple resided. Vicious was subsequently arrested and charged with her murder. He died of an overdose in 1979.


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8.

Actor David Carradine, best known for starring in Kung Fu and Kill Bill, was found dead in his room under strange circumstances at the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel in Bangkok.


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The actor was found dead in the closet of his hotel room in 2009. A cord was wrapped around his neck and genitals. Although his death was initially speculated as a suicide, police later concluded that it was likely “an accident resulting from dangerous sex practices.” It is now widely believed that he died of accidental asphyxiation.


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9.

US Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968.


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Kennedy was shot in the hotel kitchen on June 5, 1968. The senator died of his injuries the following day. Although the hotel was once a popular spot for movie premieres and Oscar ceremonies, its business declined after the incident. The Ambassador closed its doors to the public in 1989, and it was demolished in 2006.


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10.

Room 311 at the Read House Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is widely believed to be haunted.


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A woman named Annalisa Netherly allegedly died a horrible death in room 311. “There are many who believe Room 311 is haunted by the ghost of Annalisa Netherly – a guest who was allegedly beheaded in the bathtub by a jealous lover in 1927,” the hotel’s website reads. However, there’s not much historical evidence available to confirm this.

11.

Several gruesome deaths have occurred at the Barclay Hotel in Los Angeles.

Originally called the Van Nuys Hotel, the building opened to the public on Jan. 19, 1897. Since then, it’s been seemingly plagued by violence and tragedy. Notable incidents include a knife fight between kitchen staff that left the hotel’s butcher dead, a hotel employee having his skull crushed by a 5,000-pound weight while looking down the elevator shaft, and numerous suicides.


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Similar to the former Cecil Hotel, Barclay now operates as a low-income housing complex.

12.

And finally, serial killer H.H. Holmes’ allegedly ran a “murder castle” disguised as a hotel in the 1800s in Chicago.


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This one is incredibly bizarre, and widespread stories about the case are often rife with misinformation. Historians generally agree that Holmes did in fact build a “hotel,” largely thought to lure victims from the crowds at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, but it’s not confirmed that it was ever a fully operating business. The number of victims is also disputed — according to some sources, Holmes confessed to killing 27 people; others say he only confessed to nine.


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Would you stay overnight at any of these places? Or would you rather eat glass? Let us know in the comments!