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Five spooktacular stays to celebrate Halloween

Revive your spirits this fall with a spooky stay at one of Hilton’s haunted properties. | By Paul Oswell | October 13, 2022 (Updated September 12, 2023)

It’s officially spooky season! Fall is in full swing, bringing with it the excitement of choosing the perfect Halloween costume, planning autumn outings, enjoying pumpkin-flavored treats and drinks and of course, telling ghost stories. Luckily, if you enjoy a haunting presence, Hilton has a few ghost stories to tell from haunted hotels throughout our 100-plus year history. For more paranormal activity, read on:

  • Haunted histories: Explore some of the grandest hotels, some of which have ghosts and spirits that refuse to check out

  • Fall festivals: Enjoy Halloween attractions in fun towns, from parades to concerts and costumed celebrations

  • Island apparitions: Even the beautiful shores of Hawaii have ghost stories, but your chills will melt away in the tropical weather

The Seelbach Hilton Louisville

The opulent Seelbach Hilton Louisville is most famous for inspiring the location of Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby.” However, there is more to this historic Kentucky property than its literary fame. According to legend, in 1987, staff reported a mysterious lady wearing a blue chiffon dress in the elevator. Shortly after, the team found a newspaper article from 1936 at the local library that reported an incident with a lady working at the building across the street who went to the hotel to meet her husband, but he was killed en route. She was allegedly so upset when she heard the news that she threw herself down the hotel’s elevator shaft, while wearing a long blue chiffon dress. Today, the hotel honors its resident ghost with a craft beer, the Lady in Blue, a blueberry lager. Not spooked yet? For more ghostly activity in Louisville through the month of October, check out immersive haunted houses, elaborate Halloween light displays on Hillcrest Avenue and the family-friendly Jack O’Lantern Spectacular, a luminary art experience featuring more than 5,000 carved pumpkins in themed settings in Iroquois Park.

The Emily Morgan San Antonio - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

This San Antonio hotel scored top spooky points on national haunted hotel lists. USA Today declared The Emily Morgan San Antionio – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel the third most-haunted hotel in the world in 2015, and Travel + Leisure named it among the most haunted hotels in America. Once a hospital, the hotel’s most haunted floors are said to be the seventh, ninth and 14th. Staff report incidents of bathtubs filling up with blue water, and housekeepers have said that after making a bed and turning their backs, they would find all the pillows on the ground. Meanwhile, guests have told of lights flickering or the TV turning on for no reason. Don’t let the ghoulish tales fool you, though, it’s a stunning building that dates back to 1924, and it has become a beloved San Antonio landmark and a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide. The haunted hotel overlooks the city's most famous historic sight, The Alamo, and is a short distance from the scenic San Antonio River Walk. The city celebrates the paranormal season with costume parades, concerts and family-friendly ‘trunk or treat’ events, where locals bring their decorated cars and hand out candy.

Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton

This historic property, which opened in 1928, is known as one of the most haunted places in South Dakota. The most famous ghost story is of the Lady in White. In the 1970s, a young bride flung herself out the window of room 812. Those that knew the young woman insisted there was foul play, but nobody was ever convicted. Today, guests claim the woman roams the halls of the eighth floor. Feeling brave and wanting to up the eerie ante? Stay in room 812 via the property’s Ghost Adventure. It has been reported that the room’s window is often found open in the morning and dresser drawers are taken out, turned upside down and put back in place. The eighth floor is also said to be home to a young girl ghost who knocks on doors and can be heard giggling down the hallway. To shake off some of the spooky feelings, explore the beauty of Rapid City in the fall. Celebrate Halloween events (sans ghosts) at the large downtown trick or treat event or bring your furry friend to the annual Poochoween costume parade.

DoubleTree by Hilton Utica

This property was built in 1912 as the first luxury hotel between New York City and Buffalo. However, during the 1980s, the property was also a care facility, and it’s believed that some former residents haunt the hotel as ghosts. Legend says that guests have noticed a blue orb of light floating in mid-air and moving across their room. No need to be scared though, witnesses reported that they enjoyed the spectacle. Among the other colorful sights to behold in this corner of the world in October are the gorgeous fall foliage. Some of the country’s most popular leaf-peeping spots are less than an hour’s drive from Utica and should not be missed. To stay in the Halloween spirit, head to Utica Zoo’s Spooktacular Harvest Festival, where there’s live entertainment, costume contests, animal walkabouts and a Twisted Fairy Tail Trail.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

This tropical destination isn’t the first place you’d think would be haunted. Surrounded by sandy beaches and blue ocean waters, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is an idyllic spot, no question, but there have been several ghostly incidents involving a man in white roaming the 14th floor. One such incident was when a housekeeper was cleaning a suite and caught a glimpse of a man on the balcony. She checked to see if the room was occupied but discovered that the last occupants were in fact, a mother and daughter. Shake off those chills running down your spine and head for the sun. Sail aboard a catamaran yacht or explore the island’s undersea world on a high-tech submarine. Discover hidden rainforests and ancient volcanos from a helicopter tour or relax poolside at one of the oceanfront resort’s five pools, five-acre saltwater lagoon or white sand beach. This Hawaiian paradise does not lack in warmth or blood-pumping adventure.

Whether haunted hotels are your purpose for travel or just a fun October getaway surprise, the tales and legends at these properties are sure to make for great conversation starters upon your return home. Embrace the spooky and explore the culture, adventure and beauty of these haunted destinations.

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer and has reported from all seven continents for dozens of internationally known publications. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small” and the editor of an online travel magazine.

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