Nights of Frights: Haunted Hotels of Texas

by Brian Maass on October 25, 2019 in Lifestyle, Living Texas, Austin, San Antonio, Travel,

With Halloween just around the corner, thrill-seekers are searching for ever more authentic scares. These trick or treaters want to go beyond the boo of a typical haunted house 

For a fully immersive night of frights, why not stay at one of the nation’s most haunted hotels? Texas is home to some of the scariest—-each with their own story. If you’re brave enough, here’s a Texas trio to consider this spooky season. Witch will you choose…?

Menger Hotel, San Antonio

Built in 1859, and walking distance from the Alamo, the Menger is often proclaimed as the unofficial Most Haunted Hotel in Texas. Through its storied history, many distinguished guests have stayed at the hotel including Sam Houston, Theodore Roosevelt and Mae West. Many people believe that some of the hotel’s former residents are still roaming the halls of the historic hotel. It is said the Menger is host to at least 32 different spirits, guests having reported faces next to theirs in the mirror, cigars in the non-smoking rooms and beds levitating.

The historic Menger hotel in San Antonio is said to be home to the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt, among others. Courtesy photo

Some of the more notable ghosts said to haunt the Menger are Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, and a chambermaid named Sallie White. Roosevelt first visited the Menger in 1898 and used the hotel as a recruitment headquarters for his Rough Riders. His ghost is usually spotted in the bar having a conversation with the bar staff or trying to recruit guests as Rough Riders. Sallie White was a beloved staff member at the Menger. Unfortunately, her husband’s jealousy turned deadly when he murdered Sallie in 1876. Sallie can be found carrying out her duties on the third floor in the original section of the hotel. Guests have spotted her wearing a maid’s uniform, a red scarf and a pearl necklace, and folding sheets or doing other duties.

Magnolia Hotel, Seguin

The Magnolia Hotel was first built as a log cabin by Texas Ranger James Campbell. Later, the cabin expanded, becoming a successful hotel up until the early 1900s. Then, the hotel was abandoned and in 2012 was nominated to Preservation Texas’ Most Endangered Places list. In 2013, new owners Jim and Erin Ghedi set out to restore the hotel and make it a bed and breakfast. During the restoration, the property experienced an increase in paranormal activity, which caused numerous delays as contractors refused to work on the hotel. Eventually, the hotel was completed and is now open for overnight stays.

Built by a Texas Ranger, the haunted Magnolia Hotel is now owned by Jim and Erin Ghedi who have restored the former log cabin into a bed and breakfast. Courtesy photo

Working with a psychic, the Ghedis have identified 13 spirits occupying the hotel. One of the most notable is the spirit of a 13-year-old girl. The hotel also features many ghost hunting related activities that allow guests the opportunity to hear the history of the hotel and potentially see a ghost. On October 26th, the hotel will host a free open house.

The Magnolia Hotel has been dubbed the Most Haunted Hotel in Texas by MSN. It has also been featured on numerous television shows including “Ghost Nation’ and “Ghost Adventures.” 

The Driskill, Austin

Austin may be known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but it is also home to one of the most haunted hotels in the country. When you first walk into The Driskill you are greeted by spotless marble floors and columns that line the lobby’s entrance. You might find it hard to believe that such a place is haunted, but you would be wrong.

Situated in the heart of Austin, The Driskill is a popular place for those seeking all things ghostly. Courtesy photo

Throughout the hotel’s 133-year history, there have been a rash of strange deaths in The Driskill. A girl falls to her death down the grand staircase while chasing her ball, and two brides commit suicide in the same bathtub, 20 years apart. Some guests have the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, which may have something to do with the paintings in the hallways. The paintings feature people in various activities from posing for a portrait, gathering for a ball, and the painting of a little girl holding flowers in one hand and a letter in the other. Guests comment that they felt the eyes of the people in the paintings following them and watching what they are doing.

In October 2018, Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics was staying at The Driskill during a tour. Lennox was having difficulty picking out a dress and laid her two favorites on the bed and went for a shower. On her return, one of the dresses had been put away. Apparently someone had made the decision for her.


Cover photo Tapio Haaja on Unsplash

Thrill-seeker and native Austinite Brian Maass, who has long had a passion for music and travel, is now bringing that same passion to the world of photography. @maass_brian and brian_maass_photographer