• Gaby Triana

Top 5 Most Haunted Hotels in Florida

Updated: Jul 3, 2018

Ever since reading The Shining by Stephen King as a supernaturally curious 10-year-old, I’ve been fascinated by haunted hotels. So much that my first completed manuscript ever was Freddie and the Biltmore Ghost, a middle grade novel set at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables when it was closed and abandoned in the mid-80’s. I’ve always felt, “The more beautiful the hotel, the creepier.” Something about aging, structural beauties harboring the energies of long-forgotten souls in their carpeted hallways has always felt disquieting yet compelling to me.

Though most haunted hotels on TV shows seem to be located in New York or California or old cowboy towns, Florida has its share of spooky guest quarters. Just check them out on TripAdvisor, and the guests themselves will tell you! Those who survived anyway. *creepy grin*

Here are the Top 5:

5. Marrero’s Guest Mansion, Key West: Built in 1889 by famous Cuban cigar producer, Francisco Marrero, this mansion is an elegant Victorian home turned modern-day bed-and-breakfast. Marrero built the home to lure his true love, Enriquetta, to Key West, but when Marrero passed away due to suspicious circumstances, his first wife came around claiming ownership of the property, rendering Enriquetta and their eight children homeless. Shh-yeah. Enriquetta said she’d always be there in spirit, so, true to her word, she’s there. In spirit. I’m not even kidding. Crying babies at night (it’s an adults-only establishment) and doors locking and opening by themselves. Guests claim to see her ghostly spirit wandering what used to be her bedroom, Room 18. Nighty-nite!

4. Hollywood Beach Resort, Hollywood Beach: Not to poo-poo on the poor Hollywood Beach Resort, but it used to be a nice place back in 1926 when it served as stomping grounds for Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a bevy of other rich and famous who’s-who. Nowadays, it’s exchanged ownership several times and still struggles to maintain a decent rating on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the like. But definitely mark this place as one of the most haunted hotels in Florida, especially the 7thfloor, where ghostly apparitions and orbs have been spotted disappearing through the doors, and disembodied voices call out to guests. DING! DING! Checking out, please!

3. Loew’s Don CeSar Hotel, St. Pete Beach: Another 1920s playground for the rich and famous, this tropical getaway, nicknamed “The Pink Palace,” was inspired by a love story – a common theme among many haunted hotels. Thomas Rowe had the place built for his young Spanish opera-singing love, Lucinda, whose parents didn’t allow her to marry him. Long after a loveless marriage, he learned of her passing then built a tribute to her, replicating a fountain by which they used to secretly meet in London. During WWII, the Pink Palace (like another hotel on our list) was used as a VA hospital, and to this day, guests still see the ghost of a 1940s nurse wandering the halls. Thomas Rowe himself, decked out in suit, hat, and cane, walks the beach, and it’s even said that Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig roam the grounds in search of a spring training game. Take me out of this ballgame!

2. Casa Monica Hotel, St. Augustine: As the oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine has its fair share of ghostly activity. At Casa Monica Hotel, the staff tries to pretend like nothing is out of the ordinary, but guests and locals know better. Tons of paranormal activity have been reported at this gorgeous establishment built in 1888, everything from the sound of children running up and down the halls late at night when nobody is there, to ghostly people standing around Room 411, to a woman in white captured in photos. Oh, you want more? Okay. A child’s handprint keeps reappearing in one mirror, despite the hundred of times it’s been cleaned, a radio turns on and off by itself on the 1stfloor, housekeepers will not clean certain rooms, and the ghost of a gentleman in white has been seen walking through the hotel then disappearing. Add guests reports of icy winds and cold spots, and you won’t ever need to visit the Haunted Mansion in Disney World for your spooky fix. Just head over to Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine. Oh, who’m I kidding? The Haunted Mansion is still my favorite spot in all of Florida!

1. Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables: I left the best for last. One, because it’s in Miami, and I’m from Miami, and two, because it’s my favorite and I wrote this guest post, so I can if I want to…nyeah. The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, was built in 1926, because developer of Coral Gables, George Merrick, wanted to attract the country’s rich and famous to the area back when Miami was still a 3-dog town. This gorgeous, 400-room, Mediterranean-style hotel still boasts a championship golf course, the East Coast’s largest swimming pool, and a glamorous past. The Biltmore used to host fashion shows, beauty pageants, and swimming classes by Johnny Weissmuller, back before he became Tarzan on the big screen. During WWII, the hotel became a VA hospital, the beautiful travertine floors were covered with government-issue linoleum, and its windows were sealed with concrete. In 1973, the hotel closed down and was abandoned for 10 years during which time the author of this blog post and other trespassing children and teenagers would visit the grounds to witness ghostly lights in the windows as viewed from the golf course. Famous ghosts of the hotel include gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh, the spirit of a young woman who fell to her death trying to save her baby from plummeting off a balcony, soldiers wearing hospital gowns standing in guest rooms, a transparent couple dancing in one of the ballrooms, and sometimes…pretty women are taken past their floors on the elevator, given access to the higher-level suites past the 13th floor by some unseen, smitten spirit. Besides being haunted, the 5-star hotel has an amazing Sunday brunch, gorgeous statues of Greek gods and goddesses surrounding the pool, and a killer, luxurious lobby, caged birds and all.

Well, that’s it! I hope you liked my tour of Florida’s most haunted hotels! I’m still trying to book stays in each and every location, but they won’t let me in with my EVP audio recorder, magnetic field detectors, or team of paranormal investigators. Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to stay as a guest instead. Happy Haunted Hotel Season!

The previous is a repost of a guest blog entry I wrote for the Tuesday Writers. To view the original post, click here.

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