6 Spooky Backstories at Hilton Properties for Halloween

It’s officially #spookyseason! October is in full swing, bringing with it the excitement of choosing the perfect Halloween costume, planning socially-distanced fall outings, enjoying pumpkin-flavored eats and drinks, and of course, telling ghost stories.

Luckily, if you enjoy a spooky presence, Hilton’s got a few great ghost stories from our 100+ year history. For more paranormal activity, read on (if you dare!)

1. The Seelbach Hilton

This hotel is perhaps most famous for inspiring the location of Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. However, there is more to this historic Kentucky property than its literary fame.

In 1987, two Team Members reported separate sightings, minutes apart, of a lady with long dark hair wearing a blue chiffon dress walk into the elevator. In both reports, the doors to the elevator were never open. Shortly after these sightings, the onsite team found a newspaper article from 1936 at the local library that helped explain the mystery.

According to the article, a lady working at the Starks building across the street went to the Seelbach Hotel to meet her husband. He, unfortunately, was killed on his way to the hotel. She was 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 Seelbach Hilton honors its “resident ghost” with a craft beer named after her, the Lady in Blue, a blueberry lager.

2. The Emily Morgan San Antonio, a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel

There is a reason USA Today declared this the 3rd most haunted hotel in the world in 2015, and Travel + Leisure named it among the most haunted hotels in America.

Once used as a hospital, the most haunted floors are said to be the seventh, ninth and fourteenth.

“We have a Hilton Team Member who was staying overnight and experienced her bathtub filling with blue water,” despite not turning on the tap. “They checked the lock, but no one had entered the room,” added Emily Morgan’s General Manager, Kole Siefken. Room Attendants have stated that after making the bed and turning their back, they would find all the pillows on the ground, and others have said lights flicker or say that the TV comes on for no reason.

3. The Hotel Alex Johnson, Curio Collection by Hilton

The historic Hotel Alex Johnson is known as one of the most haunted places in South Dakota. The SyFy Channel’s show “Ghost Hunters” traveled to Rapid City to do a special segment on the hotel, and the investigators reported that they experienced significant paranormal activity.

The most famous ghost story is of the Lady in White. During the 1970s, it was reported that a young bride committed suicide by flinging herself out the window of room 812. Those that knew the young woman insisted there was foul play, stating that she was much too happy and friendly to commit such an act. Yet, no one was ever convicted of her murder and the suicide ruling stood firm.

Today, guests claim the young bride wanders the halls of the eighth floor in a white gown, but the hotel is proud of its haunted heritage: guests can book a “Ghost Package” to stay in room 812, complete with a K2 meter (ghost detector) and record their encounters in a “Haunted Stories” book at its front desk!

4. Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Utica

This property was built in 1912 as the first luxury hotel between New York City and Buffalo, serving as a place to stay when people traveled to or from major cities on the East Coast.  However, before becoming a DoubleTree by Hilton, the property also served as an adult care facility in the 1980s, and some claim the former residents now linger as ghosts.

According to Lee Arthur, the hotel’s General Manager, “just last year, guests noticed a blue light orb floating in mid-air in front of them and watched it move across the bedroom.” She added, “They said they didn’t feel scared or threatened but actually enjoyed what they were seeing which was pretty neat for the hotel team.”

5. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Now this one isn’t your average hotel haunting! In 1957, Elvis Presley came to Hawaii for the very first time, and stayed in the Hawaiian Village’s Ali’i Tower. (It would not become a Hilton until 1961). Elvis enjoyed his time in Hawaii and came back to the Hilton Hawaiian Village whenever he was performing at a concert or a charitable event in Hawaii, until about 1976.

After he passed away in 1977, there have been several incidents reported by housekeepers of seeing a man in white with dark black hair on the 14th floor, which is where Mr. Presley preferred to stay in the hotel’s fittingly named “King Suite”.

Once such incident reported by a housekeeper, was that she was cleaning the King Suite on the 14th floor when she caught a glimpse of a man with dark hair on the balcony of the suite. She checked to see if the room was occupied, but discovered that the room’s last occupants were a mother and daughter who had checked out the evening prior. Others reported seeing a man in white with dark hair at the end of a hallway, but when they turned away and then looked back the man was gone.

6. Hotel Del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

As the legend tells it, a young woman named Kate Morgan was found dead from an apparent suicide at San Diego’s legendary Hotel Del Coronado in 1892. Today, Kate’s spirit seems to have remained at The Del, where Team Members claim she sometimes visits her former guestroom. But her beautiful vision – and ghostly pranks – can be experienced throughout the rambling resort and grounds.

As described in the hotel-published book Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, “guests in Kate’s room report everything from breezes that come from nowhere to having to deal with a television set that turns on and off by itself.” The book can be purchased in the hotel’s gift shop.

The hotel offers a year-round Ghost Tour (temporarily closed due to Covid precautions), as well as a Ghost Roast experience in October.


Are you courageous enough to spend a night in one of the hotels mentioned above? Book your next Hilton visit now to experience your own spooky stay this season, and happy Halloween!


This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Stephanie A. Are you interested in traveling to San Diego? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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