Things to Do

Want to (Maybe) See a Ghost? Stay at These DC-Area Hotels and Rentals.

Where to book a room if you want to get spooky.

Photograph by Flickr user Wally Gobetz.

For some, Halloween decorations and scary movies aren’t enough. If you want to get face time in with ghosts yourself, there are a bevy of (supposedly) haunted hotels and rental spots around DC that you can book. Check out our list and pack your bags—that is, if you dare.

The Hay-Adams Hotel
800 16th St. NW

Socialite Marian “Clover” Hooper, a photographer married to John Quincy Adams’s grandson Henry Adams, took her own life in the Hay-Adams Hotel in 1885, ingesting the potassium cyanide that she used to develop film in her dark room.

Her ghost is said to now wander the hotel’s fourth floor, identified by an a faint almond fragrance—the smell of potassium cyanide. Hay-Adams ghost stories include locked doors unlocking on their own, cold spots and strange orbs popping up, the sound of a sad woman’s mournful wails, chandeliers mysteriously swaying, and the appearance of Hooper’s full-bodied apparition.

Apparently, December is the most haunted time to visit, around the anniversary of Hooper’s death. People can also visit the hair-raising statue sometimes referred to as “Grief” in Rock Creek Park that Adams had constructed in Hooper’s memory.

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave. NW

What’s spookier than a mourning president who missed his own inaugural ball? When the hotel hosted Calvin Coolidge’s inaugural ball in 1925, Coolidge didn’t attend, as he was supposedly mourning the death of his 16-year-old son.

Now, on the anniversary of Coolidge’s inauguration, the hotel lights are said to flicker at 10 p.m., just as the first guests would have been announced. At the same time, an elevator allegedly gets stuck on the eighth floor, where Coolidge was staying, and only returns to the hotel’s ground floor around 10:15 p.m., when Coolidge should have arrived.

The Omni Shoreham
2500 Calvert St. NW

Washingtonian journalist Eric Nuzum documented his restless night spent in the hotel’s room 870 back in 2007:

“’She usually won’t let me inside,’ the clerk said, referring, I assumed, to the resident ghost. ‘Almost every time I have to go up there, I can’t get the key to work. Some folks here won’t even go inside.’”

The front desk clerk was referring to Juliette Brown, one of the two or three ghosts that apparently haunt the hotel’s “Ghost Suite.”

Brown was the housekeeper for one of the hotel’s former owners, Henry Doherty, who lived in the now-suite. Brown mysteriously dropped dead one night in the suite, and it’s believed that both Doherty’s wife and daughter passed away there, too. Doherty moved out in 1973 and left the apartment abandoned for decades.

While the room is no longer open to the public, you can still stay elsewhere in the hotel and get your fix of ghost stories: There are reports of lights flickering, rolling carts, vacuums running in the middle of the night, piano keys tinkling, floors creaking, and TVs turning on in rooms nearby.

Monaco DC
700 F St. NW

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco was originally built to house the General Post Office in 1842. The post office remained open during the Civil War, and the story goes that women would wait there for news of their loved ones who were off fighting. It seems perhaps they never left: There have been reports of modern-day hotel guests hearing dreadful cries in the building and spotting the ghost of a woman in full Victorian-era dress.

The Olde Towne Inn
9403 Main St., Manassas

Take the Virginia Railway Express or Amtrak to this Manassas inn just 32 miles from DC. At the nearby Manassas National Battlefield, hundreds of Union and Confederate troops were killed, with thousands more injured, during the Civil War’s First Battle of Bull Run.

Legend has it that “Miss Lucy,” a ghost from the 19th century, haunts the inn—especially in rooms 50, 52, and 54. Reports include loud crashes in the rooms’ bathrooms, something pulling on the mattresses, and one Redditor’s report that a presence was grabbing at their ankles, apparently trying to get into bed with them.

Lockhouse 25
Towpath Mile 30.9, Edwards Ferry Rd., Poolesville

Bike the C&O Canal to this spooky stay in Montgomery County on mile 30.9 of the towpath. Lockhouse 25 in Poolesville is supposedly haunted by the ghosts of Union soldiers from the Civil War. Union forces were stationed in the area, ordered to protect the canal from Confederate invasions into Maryland. At the time, boatmen called the area”Haunted House Bend,” as bodies from the war would float down the canal all the way to DC.

Reports have circulated of strange noises, “blood-curdling screams and moans,” livestock getting spooked, and the appearance of a red-bearded man who disappears into the air.

The house doesn’t have heat, electricity, or functioning fireplaces, but it does have an outdoor fire ring for s’mores and ghost stories around the campfire.

Inn BoonsBoro
1 North Main St., Boonsboro

Okay, how about some ghosts you might actually want to come into contact with?

This Boonsboro inn just south of Greenbrier State Park originally dates back to 1790. But perhaps most importantly, a ghostly cat supposedly visits the rooms at night, and visitors have reported hearing the tinkling of a bell.

Lilburn Mansion
3899 College Ave., Ellicott City

A stay at 165-year-old Lilburn Mansion, also known as The Castle, Balderstones Mansion, or Hazeldene, will get you two bedrooms, a ballroom, a library, a view of seven acres, and a pool. It could also get you some ghosts.

A string of bad luck has haunted this place: The site was restored after a 1923 fire destroyed the original 1857 property, and there have been reports of the ghosts of children who died in the home appearing on site.

The property’s spectral reputation has landed it on the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, and A&E, and it was featured as one of TimeOut’s 13 Most Haunted AirBnbs to Rent in the country. The Castle is within walking distance to historic downtown Old Ellicott City, which has a ghost tour of its own, along with the spine-chilling Hell House Altar in the nearby woods of Patapsco Valley State Park.

Editorial Fellow