Spooky Scary: Haunted Hotels in the South

From the cryptic mythology throughout the Mississippi Delta, to the spirits of wartime past down the Atlantic coast, the South has no shortage of spooky adventures. Whether you’re looking for a friendly encounter from the other side, or trying to find a true adrenaline rush by meeting with a tortured (undead) soul, these Southern haunts have plenty of history and unexplained mysteries for thrill-seeking travelers.

The Hotel: Embassy Suites Charleston, Historic Charleston

Be on the look-out for any
Be on the look-out for any

The ghostlore: Charleston prides itself on its chilling past, and it’s no wonder that the town where the Civil War started has its share of lingering souls. One of the city's most haunted sites is the Embassy Suites hotel in the downtown Historic District. Known as the Old Citadel, the building formerly housed the State Arsenal and military college, which is located just a short drive away nowadays. Legend has it that The Lost Cadet, or "Half Head," roams the hotel's halls to this day. The spirit is said to be a young solider missing the top half of his head after losing it to a cannonball. But despite his misfortune, he apparently has a joyful demeanor.

The Hotel: Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

This 100-year-old hotel has plenty of spirits on the 13th floor and beyond
This 100-year-old hotel has plenty of spirits on the 13th floor and beyond

The ghostlore: Originally opened as a playground for the rich in 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables is not only luxurious and elegant, but is also believed to be quite haunted. The (unlucky) 13th floor served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when the hotel saw its first premature death: Gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed during a crowded party. Years later, the U.S. government bought the hotel and converted it into a hospital for World War II soldiers, where it saw countless more untimely passings. After being abandoned for several decades, the Biltmore re-opened in the 1980's as a hotel, and ever since then guests have experienced unexplained noises and visions. The most chilling reports, however, come from those who get dropped off by the elevator on the 13th floor, even when that button is never pushed.

The Hotel: The Marshall House, Savannah

This hospital-turned-hotel has had guests stick around long after checking out
This hospital-turned-hotel has had guests stick around long after checking out

The ghostlore: Opened in 1851 -- and standing as the oldest hotel in Savannah -- the Marshall House has had its fair share of unexplained phenomena. Also used as a hospital in between stints as a hotel, the Marshall House witnessed thousands of deaths throughout the Civil War and two yellow fever epidemics. The property was renovated and re-opened as a hotel in 1999, but old haunts lingered: Many guests report strange noises and the feeling of cold hands around their wrists, as if nurses are taking their temperatures. The hotel embraces its mysterious energy and even urges guests to take haunted walking tours of the city, where the Marshall House is one of the most popular stops along the route.

The Hotel: Bourbon Orleans Hotel, New Orleans

You may see some nuns while staying at this hotel
You may see some nuns while staying at this hotel

The ghostlore: The Bourbon Orleans in the Big Easy is another property that has seen a great deal of eerie transformations. Originally built as a ballroom and theater, the Bourbon was converted into a convent in the late 1800s, with areas of the building serving as a girls’ school, a medical ward, and an orphanage. Many guests have noted the sounds of the children and adult females throughout the hallways, including a young girl who likes to roll a ball down the hall on the sixth floor. Guests have also reported seeing ghostly visions of nuns.

The Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel Key West -- La Concha, Key West

Key West's most haunted hotel is the starting point of many ghost tours
Key West's most haunted hotel is the starting point of many ghost tours

The ghostlore: Though Hemingway, the city’s most notable lingering resident, may not haunt this particular hotel, La Concha hotel in Key West has plenty of other spirits that have lingered past the late check-out time. One of the most famous stories to come from La Concha is one that tells of the waiter who fell to his death down the elevator shaft. His spirit has supposedly been seen on occasion roaming throughout the hotel.

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