Offbeat: Hotels I wouldn’t be caught dead in

A few months ago I was transfixed on a series aptly named 666 Park Avenue which followed the coming ins and going outs – no, mostly coming ins of the residents of a haunted hotel/apartment complex in New York. Although fictitious, its plot line resonated with what I think is a basal fear for many of us.


I was flipping through channels a few weeks later when I landed on Richard E Grant’s Hotel Stories (naturally) on Sky Atlantic. I immediately recognized the story as being what 666 Park Avenue must have been loosely based on. This particular episode explored the rise and fall of the Hotel Chelsea in New York via freaky first-person accounts, including a story of how one guest checked into the hotel for one night and ended up staying for decades. When he finally had to move away from The Chelsea right before it was closed for renovation, the man had to move out of the city of New York entirely because, like a lover he had broken up with, he could not bear to walk past the building knowing it would no longer be a part of his life.

Built in 1884, The Chelsea was known for its high profile guests in its heyday, from Andy Warhol to Leonard Cohen, who met Janis Joplin there and wrote about the hotel, and Bob Dylan among many others. It is even said that Joni Mitchell’s song Chelsea Morning which she wrote about the hotel gave the Clintons the name of their daughter. Spookily, the spirit of Welsh writer and poet Dylan Thomas who died after drinking 18 glasses of whisky in one of the Chelsea’s rooms is believed to have never left the hotel. Other ghosts rumoured to wander listlessly within the property include American novelist Thomas Wolfe, who is said to haunt the eighth floor and Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious, who having been suspected of stabbing his girlfriend in Room 100 is said to linger at the east elevator of the hotel.

The Chelsea is currently closed down for renovations, and will reopen in the future as a funky hotel. Count me out. The number one thing I think of when going to bed in a heritage hotel that has been around for decades is whether or not it’s haunted. I don’t like sharing my living space with strangers, living or otherwise, and watching one too many episodes of Paranormal Witness has only made things worse. The other two hotels in the top three list of hotels I wouldn’t want to rest my head in at night for fear of having it messed about with are:

The Langham Hotel, London


London’s Langham Hotel opened in 1865 and has been visited by several literary greats, including Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle. It is also reportedly a hotspot for restless spirits, the most common sighting of which is a man in Victorian evening wear in Room 333, who apparently appears only during October. Yet others claim to have seen the figure of a man in military attire standing by the window on the fourth floor, which is said to be the ghost of a German Prince who jumped out of a window before the start of the First World War. It is also believed that Napoleon III, another former guest, haunts the basement of the hotel.

To their credit, the hotel actually promotes their paranormal credentials right around Halloween each year.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles

Hotel Roosevelt

The Hollywood Roosevelt, named after President Teddy Roosevelt, opened in 1927, and is another homage to a bygone era. During its heyday, the hotel was the center of Hollywood and served as the location for the first Academy Awards ceremony. To put it succinctly the Roosevelt was the place to for the who’s who of the Golden Age of Hollywood to see and be seen.

It so happens that Marilyn Monroe was a resident at this historic hotel which hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. Little wonder then, that guests and hotel staff have reported seeing a blonde woman in the long mirror in Monroe’s former suite. Her presence is also said to be felt in the hotel’s poolside nightclub Tropicana. As if that’s not spooky enough the ghost of actor Montgomery Clift has also been reportedly heard playing his trombone from Room 928, where he once stayed.

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