These historic Texas hotels offer guests more than a mere look back at the past. They may actually put its visitors in touch with it, courtesy of some spirited guests that just won’t check out.
A word of advice: If you do book a stay at one of these haunted accommodations, you might want to sleep with one eye open.
Menger Hotel, San Antonio
Built upon the battlegrounds of the Alamo a mere 23 years after its storied fall, the Menger Hotel, considered the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi, is probably best recognized for its rich history and its proximity to some of San Antonio’s top attractions including the Alamo and the River Walk. But that’s not all it’s known for.
Not surprisingly, the state’s oldest hotel has acquired quite a reputation as a hotbed of paranormal activity. Since it opened its doors in 1859, apparitions have been spotted throughout several of the hotel’s hallways and rooms, including that of Victorian-era chambermaid Sallie White, a mysterious woman in blue and the hotel’s most famous ghost guests, Captain Richard King, founder of the King Ranch, and Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States.
Other paranormal phenomena noted over the years include knocking sounds, unexplained voices, inexplicable gusts of cold air, feelings of being watched or followed, doors that open and close by themselves, flickering lights and cigar smoke that materializes at the hotel’s no-smoking bar. The list goes on and on. Sound like a bunch of hocus pocus to you? Book a night and experience it for yourself...if you dare!
Menger Hotel is located at 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, (210) 223-4361, mengerhotel.com.
Hotel Galvez, Galveston
Opened in 1911 as a symbol of Galveston’s resiliency in the wake of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (which killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people and remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history), Hotel Galvez is one of the Gulf Coast’s most luxurious beachfront hotels...and it’s got a little extra spirit, if you know what we mean.
Throughout its illustrious history, the Queen of the Gulf has played host to presidents, celebrities and, purportedly, even a few ghosts, including the spirit of a lovelorn woman who supposedly committed suicide in room 501. The tale goes that the young woman, Audra, was waiting for her beloved, a sailor, to return from a voyage when, one day, she received news that her fiancé's ship had sunk during a powerful storm. Audra held out hope and kept her vigil for days but she ultimately lost hope. Convinced her fiancé was dead, she hung herself. A few days later, Audra’s fiancé returned to the Galvez in search of the bride he’d never marry. Audra reportedly still inhabits room 501. Guests and employees have noted unexplained phenomena, including flickering lights, doors that open and close, unexplained footsteps and voices on the hotel’s fifth floor. Audra sightings in hallways have also been reported.
Hotel Galvez is located at 2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, (409) 765-7721, hotelgalvez.com.
Excelsior House Hotel, Jefferson
The historic Excelsior House Hotel in Jefferson, a small East Texas town located on the banks of Big Cypress Bayou, was built by early area resident Captain William Perry back in 1858. Naturally, The Excelsior, dubbed the “oldest hotel in continuous operation in Texas,” has acquired a few lingering guests over the years, namely a headless man and an eerie woman in black often seen holding a child.
The Excelsior House Hotel is located at 211 W Austin St, Jefferson, (903) 665-2513, theexcelsiorhouse.com.
Driskill Hotel, Austin
The historic Driskill Hotel in Austin opened in 1886 and acquired its first ghost just four years later. Missouri-born cattle baron Jesse Lincoln Driskill built the grand hotel at a cost of almost $400,000. By 1887, Driskill’s personal fortunes had turned. He went bankrupt and, rumor has it, ultimately lost the hotel in a high-stakes poker game. He died three years later. Reportedly, he haunts the hotel to this day, wandering through the halls, flickering lights on and off and smoking his cigars in guest rooms.
Other spooky apparitions include the ghost of little girl who died on the Grand Staircase and the ghosts of two brides who supposedly committed suicide in the hotel.
Driskill Hotel is located at 604 Brazos St, Austin, (512) 439-1234, hyatt.com.
Gage Hotel, Marathon
Built in 1927 by acclaimed architect, Henry Trost, for Alfred Stevens Gage, businessman and founder of the A. S. Gage Ranches, this Old West hotel is the site of several spirited encounters.
Guests and employees have noted inexplicable phenomena, including disembodied footsteps walking down unoccupied corridors, strange music emerging from room 10, unexplained whisperings of a woman reciting poetry and the feeling of someone tapping them on their shoulder. Sightings of Gage himself have also been reported.
Gage Hotel is located at 102 NW 1st St Highway 90W, Marathon, (432) 386-4205, gagehotel.com.
Emily Morgan Hotel, San Antonio
Built near the Alamo nearly a century after the historic battle, the building now known as the Emily Morgan Hotel opened in 1924 as the Medical Arts Building, a medical facility with a hospital and doctors' offices. In 1976, the Gothic Revival-style building was converted into modern office space, but was transformed into a hotel just eight years later in 1984. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The landmark hotel offers guests upscale accommodations, proximity to the Alamo and visits from a few spirited occupants from its days as a medical center. Oh, yeah, did we forget to mention that the Emily Morgan Hotel is considered one of the most haunted hotels in the world? Here, there is no shortage of reports of spirited encounters, from shadowy figures and disembodied footsteps to inexplicable cold spots and strange orbs of light.
Emily Morgan Hotel is located at 705 E Houston St, San Antonio, (210) 225-5100, emilymorganhotel.com.
The Tremont House, Galveston
The original Tremont House, you know, the one where Sam Houston delivered his last public speech is long gone, up in smoke actually, having been destroyed in a fiery blaze in June 1865. And its reincarnation didn’t fare much better. Designed by noted architect Nicholas Clayton and opened in 1872, it ultimately fell into ruin and was demolished in 1928. But in 1985, George and Cynthia Mitchell converted the 1879 Leon & H. Blum Building, a dry goods store, into the third iteration of the beloved Belle of the South.
Maybe it’s because of it’s unlucky past or maybe it’s got something to do with the the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, but regardless of the reason, it’s said that that the hotel is a go-to destination for ghosts. Reported resident ghost include a Civil War soldier and a gambler named Sam who was reportedly murdered for his winnings on the fourth floor of the hotel. Over the years, guests have also reported hearing disembodied giggling and unexplained moaning and crying.
The Tremont House is located at 2300 Ship’s Mechanic Row St, Galveston, (409) 763-0300, thetremonthouse.com.
Sources: Texas State Historical Association Handbook, Galveston Historical Foundation, Emily Morgan Hotel, Menger Hotel, Hotel Galvez, Robert Wlodarski and Anne Powell Wlodarski’s “Haunted Restaurants, Taverns and Inns of Texas”
Have you checked into a haunted hotel? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.