Do you believe in ghosts?
While reports of mysterious noises and weird sightings might frighten some, for the curious-minded, there’s nothing more exciting than staying in a haunted hotel in San Diego.
From whispers of ghostly guests to tragic events that linger, these San Diego historic hotels offer a unique blend of history and mystery. Though they are beautiful properties, they have their share of creepy feels and rumors of guests who refuse to check out.
But we’ll leave the judgment call to you to see if you have other-worldly experiences or attract the spirits from beyond the grave.
As Carl Sandburg once so profoundly said “And the dead know much, and the dead hold under their tongues, a locked-up story.”
HOTEL DEL CORONADO
Address: 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118
Phone Number: (619) 435-6611
This Grand Lady of the Sea has been beloved by world leaders, presidents, and many of Hollywood’s elite, such as Marilyn Monroe, since its opening in 1888. Classy and elegant, this timeless turn-of-the-century grand resort in Coronado, however, holds a dark secret.
On Thanksgiving Day in November 1982, 24-year-old Kate Morgan checked into the hotel under the name of “Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard,” explaining she was waiting for a gentleman to join her. The mystery man never arrived.
On the evening of November 28, the young woman dressed in black was seen facing the crashing ocean waves fueled by a cold winter storm. Early the next morning, the beautiful stranger was found lying on by the beach with her gun found next to her body. The coroner ruled the death a suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Despite that, the bullet did not match the caliber of the gun she’d purchased, and foul play was highly suspected. The case was never officially re-opened.
According to local historians, newspaper stories, and hotel employees, unexplained strange and bizarre experiences have occurred at The Del throughout the years related to Morgan’s death. She had stayed in a third-floor guest room where visitors reported flickering lights, a television turning on and off at will, and doors randomly opening and closing. Other manifestations include drastic changes in room temperature, unexplained footsteps, female voices, and blowing curtains with no air movement.
There have also been sightings of a woman dressed in black wandering the hallways, garden, and along the seashore. Paranormal researchers have documented supernatural activity with a multitude of infrared and high-tech gadgetry.
According to employees, even the hotel’s signature gift shop, Est. 1888, has experienced mysterious happenings– items flying off shelves, often landing upright and unbroken, and books carefully rearranged. As we stood in the hotel’s gift shop, I pondered what it would be like to be roaming the aisles and corridors late at night when spirits tend to be most active.
If you want to find out more about this haunted hotel in San Diego, you can also join a 45 minute ghost tour called “Haunted Happenings” at the hotel.
HORTON GRAND HOTEL
Address: 311 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 544-1886
This historic Gaslamp hotel is an enchanting blend of style and Victorian charm and is filled with glamourous antique-period pieces, making you feel as though you’ve stepped into the pages of a history book.
Like many historic hotels claiming the adage “if only walls could talk,” the Horton Grand’s stories and incidents have attracted paranormal fans around the globe. This hotel is often named as one of the most haunted hotels in San Diego and even one of the most haunted places in San Diego.
In the mid-1800s, Roger Whitaker, a heavy-drinking, cheating gambler, checked into the hotel. During his stay, he had altercations with a henchman looking to collect on Whitaker’s debts and was mortally wounded. Guests who’ve stayed in room #309, where Whitaker died, have reported the bed shaking while asleep, lights flickering off and on, and an armoire opening and closing during the night.
Other staff and guests have reported seeing the spirit of Ida Bailey, a resident ghost and former madame, at a brothel that previously occupied the site where the hotel was rebuilt. They claim she appears in a floating white mist while a cold chill passes through their body.
From personal experience, my spouse and I had a restless sleep during our stay due to constant running in the floor above us. When we checked out, the desk clerk claimed there were no guests occupying that floor.
Address: 2600 Calhoun Street, San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: (619) 297-1874
Built in the late 1820s, the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town was the home of Don Juan Bandini, a cattle rancher with quite a colorful past.
Bandini had three beautiful daughters and while watching a parade from an upper balcony, Ysidora fell (and lucky for her) it was into the arms of Colonel Cave Johnson who later married the young lady. It seems as if Ysidora’s ghost enjoys stirring up mischief for guests and hotel staff by turning lights off and on, especially in room 11.
On a scarier note, there were claims a young girl died in the Cosmopolitan and that her former bed and rocking chair are haunted, moving independently without reason.
US GRANT HOTEL
Address: 326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 232-3121
If you’ve never been in the US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego, you must make a visit. The splendorous property was built in 1910 and named in honor of President Ulysses S. Grant.
The glamorous but haunted hotel in San Diego has hosted presidents and celebrities throughout the years, including Charles Lindbergh and Albert Einstein, in addition to being a hallmark of women’s rights.
One of the most famous ghosts spotted time and again is Fannie Chaffee Grant, the former wife of Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. It’s said that her spirit wanders the property in a state of unhappiness, likely related to her husband’s re-marriage just a few months after her untimely death.
Housekeeping staff has reported disappearing or moved objects, and others have seen glimpses of a woman in an old-fashioned white dress, along with random footsteps with no one there and other strange, unexplained sounds.
More reported apparitions include guests awakening to the sight of a stocky man in a black suit with gray hair standing at the foot of their bed.
GRAND COLONIAL LA JOLLA
Address: 910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: (888) 828-5498
Built in 1913, the elegant property just celebrated its 110th birthday this year. It is only common sense that a hotel, being this old, just might have a few skeletons lurking in its closet!
Unlike some hotels whose ghosts appear unhappy or just plain scary, the paranormal happenings at the Grand Colonial do not seem associated with untimely deaths or gruesome murders. Rather, they appear harmless, almost playful, and not linked to a single ghost or tragic event.
There are late-night telephone calls to the front desk from an unoccupied room, glimpses of a couple in period formal attire appearing in a hallway, and a woman in white who reportedly walked by and brushed a young guest’s hair.
In the kitchen, stoves spontaneously turn off and on, cabinets open and close on their own and pans and other cooking equipment are moved after closing. This activity all began to happen shortly after the Grand Colonial’s signature restaurant NINE-TEN was remodeled.
So, whether you’re a believer or not, we’d love to hear if you’ve had any experiences at a San Diego haunted hotel.
Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Maria Haase