If goosebumps crawling up your arms makes you teem with excitement then pack your bags for a ghostly getaway. With haunted hotels dotting the Texas landscape from the beach to Big D, find a variety of phantasms. Sip cocktails with the manifestation of a former president for the power ghost experience. Snooze in the former studio of the blues legend for an artful apparition. And don’t forget the playful shadows running up and down the halls chasing balls of yesteryear for a bittersweet encounter.
The Hauntingly Beautiful San Antonio
Some cities treat spirits like family, inviting them to linger for as long as they want. And that’s the case for San Antonio routinely named as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. Downtown, nearly every historic hotel offers a lost soul of some sort.
The haunting light of the Alamo ignited a ghostly industry with a host of specialty tours and the highest concentration of haunted buildings in Texas. Even day trippers can pass haunted ground by walking past the Alamo Plaza.
Menger Hotel in San Antonio
Built in 1859, The Menger Hotel started as a 50-room limestone building located on the Alamo Plaza. The Victorian three-story lobby is an original detail though the area got an grand Neoclassical redesign in 1909 with Corinthian columns and the leaded glass skylight.
In 1887, the hotel added its legendary bar, a replica from a London club made with carved cherrywood and a mirrored back bar. In 1898 Theodore Roosevelt recruited men for his Rough Riders between drinks.
According to Lauren Swartz of Sisters Grimm Ghost Tour, bartenders over the years claim Teddy Roosevelt still sits at the bar beckoning them for a drink after the last earthly patron has departed. Swartz hosts a popular ghost dinner at the Menger and was nearly locked in a closet by an apparition one night after her tour.
The Menger Hotel isn’t home to just one ghost—it’s home to dozens of spirits. Swartz recounts how the wealthy of the area would check their in sick relatives in the early year.
Located at 204 Alamo Plaza.
The Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio
A hotel of one name or another has stood on the corner of Houston St. and St. Mary’s since the late 1830s. Finished in 1909, St. Louis architectural firm of Mauran, Russell and Garden designed the Gunter Hotel then went on to design The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas and the Hotel Galvez on Galveston Island. The eight-story building of buff-colored brick would get additional floors and a sharp-eyed passersby can see the additions from the exterior.
Early on, a talent scout set up a temporary recording studio in Room 414 for a young blues musician from the Mississippi Delta. Robert Johnson recorded 16 tracks over three days for a blues album then died tragically in 1938 under mysterious circumstances. Johnson’s influence over the blues and rock and roll genres earned him a posthumous Grammy Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Though according to Swartz who takes tours past the Gunter Hotel, a tragic death on the sixth floor upsets the housekeeping cew. Routinely they report feeling of being watched, so the housekeepers at the Gunter clean the room in pairs.
Located at 205 E. Houston St. in San Antonio.
Galveston—Another Beauty with a Ghostly Past
Back at the turn of the century the Hurricane of 1900 came ashore overnight with little warning. As the dawn broke, devastation lay in piles of timber and brick rumble. An estimated 6,000 to 12,000 people perished in the hurricane that left a permanent scar on the island for a generation.
The Tremont House in Galveston
As the third reincarnation of the The Tremont House, this property sits in the heart of the most haunted parcel in Galveston. The first Tremont opened in 1839 then destroyed by a fire in 1865. In 1872 the second hotel opened and withstood the 1900 Hurricane to be demolished in 1928. In 1985, the current hotel opened in the restored Leon and H. Blum building.
According to local guide, Dash Beardsley of Ghost Tours of Galveston, the Tremont House harbors a mischievous prankster, Jimmy. He’s been known to play tricks by moving objects. And Beardsley said if you knock of the elevator door, Jimmy might knock back.
Located at 2300 Ships Mechanic Row in Galveston.
Hotel Galvez in Galveston
Built in 1911, the Hotel Galvez replaced the popular Beach Hotel after it was destroyed in a fire. Named after the city’s namesake, Bernardo de Galvez, it’s the Grand Dame of the Seawall.
With Gulf of Mexico views, the palm-flanked drive leads guests back to a more gracious era. The hotel serves a top Sunday brunch in Texas next to its historic lobby.
According to Beardsley, the haunting of the Galvez is based more on urban folklore that documented experience. Though the tale of the Love Lorn Lady looking for her lost love still continues to circulate.
Located at 2024 Seawall Blvd. in Galveston.
Austin at the Heart of Texas Hauntings
As the capital, personalities gather even if the legislature isn’t in session. Over the years, the lawmakers come and go though some spirits remain.
The Driskill Hotel in Austin
A cattle rancher named Col. Jesse Driskill built the hotel in 1886 with the goal of owning the finest hotel south of St. Louis. The Driskill Hotel is the oldest operating hotel in Austin and home to the several Texas inaugural balls.
Thought to be one of the most haunted hotels in Texas, urban legends recount the tale of a pair of brides who met their death in the bridal suite a couple of decades apart. And according to some, they still wander the property in the Austin entertainment district.
Located at 604 Brazos St. at Sixth St. in Austin.
Omni Hotel Austin
Most think historic hotels are the only ones to harbor spirits, though newer properties can too. As is the case for the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin, a modern glass tower with 400 rooms.
Another well circulated rumor, a traveling salesman checked in on his last legs. After an alcoholic bender and a call from his soon-to-be ex-wife he leap out of his room. His spirit bounced up and walked back into the hotel to stay for eternity.
This location is also the starting point for the popular walking tour by Austin Ghost Tours.
Located at 700 San Jacinto in Austin.
The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
Beer magnate, Adolphus Busch opened the opulent Beaux-Arts hotel in Dallas in 1912. Modeled after a German castle, the hotel has hosted many dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Though according to the tour operator, DFW Tours, the Adolphus is home to several spirits unwilling to check out. It might be an area that feels colder than the rest or an apparition of a jilted woman—only the spirit knows for sure.
Located at 1321 Commerce St. in Dallas.
Stockyards Hotel in Ft. Worth
When it opened in 1907 the Stockyards Hotel shined brighter than a Texas Ranger’s revolter. In a town that was equal parts cattle ranchers and cattle rustlers, gun fights might spark to life outside the hotel at anytime. Over the last 100 years, the street got paved and the Stockyards Hotel is now part of a National Historic District.
According to David Besgrove of the Cowtown Winery and Stockyard Ghost Tours, the spirit that haunts the hotel is a cowboy wearing boots and spurs. Sometimes his image is seen other times it is the clomping of boots with the jangle of spurs up and down the halls.
Besgove also recounts the story of Room 305—offering a prime lookout point for both a bank and a police station across the street. And that’s what brought the infamous bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde to the Stockyards Hotel. Though the local law caught wind of the duo and they moved on shortly after.
Located at 109 E. Exchange Ave. in Ft. Worth.
Magnolia Hotel in Sequin
Some historic hotels would like to bury the past though the Magnolia Hotel celebrates its ghostly inhabitants. For years, TV crews routinely check in to catch its spirits, including The Travel Channel.
According to owners Erin and Jim Ghedi, 13 different spirits coexist in the property that opened in 1840 as a hotel, saloon and stagecoach stop. Today’s guests get the entire upstairs area for their stay, a two-bedroom suite with a kitchenette, sometimes with or without an encounter of the spiritual kind.
Located at 203 S. Crockett St. in Sequin.
Galvez-Interior: The interior of the Hotel Galvez offers a graceful place for gathering. Credit: Galveston CVB
Hotel Galvez Galveston: Built in 1911, the Hotel Galvez features a palm-lined drive to welcome guests. Credit: Galveston CVB
Magnolia Hotel in the 1920s: As a former stagecoach stop and saloon as well as hotel, the present owners live with 13 different spirits. Credit: Magnolia Hotel
Magnolia Hotel nighttime: Erin and Jim Ghedi live in the Magnolia Hotel and offer a suite for would-be ghost hunters. Credit: Magnolia Hotel
Menger Hotel: The Menger Hotel has overlooked the Alamo Plaza since 1859. Credit: Menger Hotel
Menger Bar Entrance—Bartenders claim Teddy Roosevelt motions for a drink at the end of the night in this legendary bar. Credit: Menger Hotel
Stockyards Hotel—Legends from Willie Nelson to Bonnie and Clyde have spent a night or two in the Stockyards Hotel. Credit: Visit Fort Worth
Stockyards Hotel Large— Once the site of gunfights, the Stockyards Hotel offers a historic property. Credit: Visit Fort Worth
Tremont Hotel Ext—The third incarnation of the hotel, The Tremont House resides in The Strand Historic District. Credit: Galveston CVB
Adolphus-Exterior—Modeled after a German castle, The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas has hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Credit: Visit Dallas
The Driskill Grill—The Driskill Hotel is the oldest operating hotel in Austin and offers grand interiors. Credit: Visit Austin