When business slows and the game is up for struggling hotels, sometimes there’s nothing for the owners to do but leave everything as is and shut the whole mess down. From ill-advised, Gold Rush-era expansion to miscalculating the willingness of travelers to pay for luxury in the middle of nowhere, there are myriad reasons why hotels are abandoned to the elements. One thing that these forgotten hotels all have in common, though, is that their bustling lobbies, comfortable bedrooms, and warm welcomes of yesterday have been swapped for a total creep factor today -- that only the bravest of ruin hunters are likely to want to explore.
So here we bring you eight of the creepiest abandoned hotels in the U.S. Considering the photos, you likely won't want to step inside these hotels. But the good news is, we've found a lovely and (bonus!) fully open and operating hotel pick nearby each, so you won't have to skip out on the awesome destinations these spots call home.
1. Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit
Abandoned to the squatters, vandals, and urban adventurers of Detroit in the 1990s, the 15-story high-rise Lee Plaza Hotel is, on one hand, a monument to failure. However, given its classic art-deco architecture and imposing structure, it is also a monument to early 20th-century design, added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1981. But while this historic Detroit beauty may have a great-looking facade, you probably wouldn’t want to go wandering the corridors alone after dark.
2. Buck Hill Inn, Poconos Mountains
When a decline in business began in the 1970s and continued on into the 1980s, the owners of the Buck Hill Inn, a luxurious Poconos Mountain resort, decided to close the doors for good in 1990. At this time — when owner Jacob Keuler’s wife fell ill — Keuler drove her to the hospital, checked her into the psychiatric ward, went back to the hotel, and shut the whole place down, leaving everything as it was. Since then the building has sat empty, visited only by the fog (and a few unsuccessful attempts at renovation) that at times envelops it, giving it an even creepier legacy.
3. Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel, New York
Before air travel became ubiquitous, Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel was attracting over 150,000 guests per year to its sprawling complex of 35 buildings, a golf course, beauty salon, pool, and even artificial ski slope. The 1972 death of its legendary hostess, Jennie Grossinger, though, coincided with the death of the hotel’s heyday as the rich and famous sought glamour elsewhere. Abandoned in 1986, the Catskills resort had a fitting sign off, allegedly providing inspiration for “Dirty Dancing,” released one year later.
4. Palms Motel; Salton Sea, California
Unsurprisingly repulsed by the smell of rotting fish that besieged the town following a series of ecological disasters (the huge lake became so polluted that all marine life was doomed to end up dead on the sand banks), residents and visitors abandoned Salton City, California in the late 1980s. The Palms Motel remains though — at least its structure.
5. Divine Lorraine Hotel, Philadelphia
Standing at the corner of Broad Street and Fairmont Avenue in North Philadelphia, The Divine Lorraine Hotel is an abandoned hotel with a future. Derelict since 1999, the hotel has attracted ruin aficionados, graffiti artists, and vandals to its 11-story playground — but plans are well underway to restore the iconic building to its former glory. Once home to a cult, the Divine Lorraine is also significant as the first racially integrated hotel in America. Following a $44 million renovation, the blighted building could open as early as the end of 2016, which would make it the first (and only) former creepy abandoned hotel on our list.
6. Coco Palms Resort; Kauai, Hawaii
Once a star-studded luxury resort on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Coco Palms was so badly damaged by hurricane Iniki that it was forced to close in 1992. Left abandoned since then, the hotel that once hosted the Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii” was further gutted by fire in 2014; it remains unclear whether the blaze was started by the ghost of the King…but we think it probably was.
7. Roy’s Motel Café; Amboy, California
When you want maximum creepiness from your creepy abandoned hotel, why look beyond the local bunkhouse in the famous abandoned ghost town of Amboy, California? Immaculately preserved from the outside for those extra eerie points, the sign for Roy’s Motel Café welcomes you to this desolate spot surrounded by bleak desert landscape where you definitely would not want to spend the night alone — or even with a large group.
8. The Wonderland Hotel; Elkmont, Tennessee
Sadly, for abandoned hotel adventurers, the Wonderland Hotel in Elkmont, Tennessee burned down in April 2016, destroying the entirety of what was left of the partially preserved wreck. A ruin in the Great Smoky Mountains, the Wonderland Hotel was one of the most iconic abandoned buildings out there, its remaining two-story annex grown over with shrubs. So heed this as a lesson: Better go get your creep on before similar fates befall the rest of these eerie homes away from home. If you dare…
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Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Grossinger’s was a filming location for “Dirty Dancing;” we have corrected it to note that the resort allegedly inspired the setting in the movie.
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