Holiday at haunted Hotel del Coronado

Aug 18, 2002
There's something spooky about historic Hotel Del

By Eric Noland

CORONADO - Bedcovers have been yanked off slumbering guests by unseen hands. Televisions have suddenly blared to life. An impression of a sleeping form has appeared on the made-up bed of an unoccupied room, and no amount of smoothing will remove it. An ethereal figure has been seen moving about, even walking down to the beach.

Say hello to the Hotel del Coronado's resident ghost. Or ghosts. There's some confusion as to just who or what is doing the haunting of this grand hotel that dates to the first Grover Cleveland administration.

Up until about a dozen years ago, a bellman who led public tours told the tale of a female guest who died in her room the night the hotel opened in February 1888. Management was so fearful that the potential scandal could ruin the venture before it got off the ground, the story went, that it spirited the body away and erased her name from the register. It's believed the woman's spirit returned in frustration over missing the evening's dinner party.

The Del's Heritage Department has since thrown its weight behind an entirely different ghost story involving a similarly unfortunate demise. A young woman, Kate Morgan, checked into the hotel on Thanksgiving Day in 1892 and a few days later was found dead on a pathway to the beach, the victim of a gunshot wound that the coroner ruled was self-inflicted. The "Beautiful Stranger," as the San Diego Union dubbed her at the time, has been hanging around the hotel ever since - amid lore that her wayward husband murdered her.

"A lot of historic hotels have ghost stories. It's a given, and they can take on a life of their own - the legends get passed down ..." said Christine Donovan, the Del's historian. "We reined it in and toned it down."

When the Heritage Department produced a book two years ago titled "Beautiful Stranger," Morgan's ghost emerged as the hotel's sole otherworldly resident. "My attitude," said Donovan, "was I'd rather have one ghost story that seems legitimate rather than a whole lot of ghost stories just because people are telling them."

Whichever yarn you choose to embrace (or reject), it's apparent some strange happenings have been recorded within the walls of this old hotel.

There was a time in the hotel's history when employees were told to keep a lid on ghostly sightings and mysterious occurrences, according to a Del spokeswoman, but this is a different era, when the public tends to be more intrigued than terrified by a presence thought to be from the other side.

Such that hotel guests randomly assigned to Room 3327 or Room 3519, where most of the paranormal events have been concentrated, aren't even warned in advance that they might have unseen and potentially unwanted company.

"It's not often that people complain and want another room," said Del publicist Alisha Young.

Some guests, meanwhile, ask specifically for one of the rooms. "That happens fairly often - especially in October," Young said. "People are just fascinated with it. It's a fun thing to share."

More than a dozen incidents are recounted at the back of "Beautiful Stranger," which is available in the hotel gift shop. One of the most hair-raising involved a Secret Service agent who was assigned to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush during a visit to the hotel in 1983.

After a night in Room 3519, the agent complained of noisy footsteps and talking in the room above, which had disturbed his sleep. He requested and was assigned a different room ...

... right after the desk clerk informed him that his room was on the top floor of the hotel.,1413,208~29392~1881302,00.html


Ephemeral Spectre
Sep 18, 2003
:err: Aww! When I read the title of this thread I thought you were all going to come here to have a holiday at that hotel! I could surely get down there to meet you then.


I'm surprised, I stayed at this hotel 3 different times, in the old section of the hotel (there's an old section and a newer section), and I never saw anything the least bit spooky. It is a great hotel though. I recommend it, even if you don't see anything spooky.


Devoted Cultist
Feb 8, 2002
I had dinner at the Del a couple of years ago with some of my family. I felt a strange compulsion to put on a wig, heels and a frock and make wolf eyes at Marilyn while fending off the advances of Osgood Fielding the III.


Justified & Ancient
May 2, 2002
ctaylor8 said:
I had dinner at the Del a couple of years ago with some of my family. I felt a strange compulsion to put on a wig, heels and a frock and make wolf eyes at Marilyn while fending off the advances of Osgood Fielding the III.
Well, nobody's perfect. :D

I think a lot of hotels make up stories like this in the hope it will attract more customers. Maybe some of them then imagine they've seen things through their imagination going on overdrive?


Aug 7, 2002
Other articles on this story:
In 1990, a book called "The Legend of Kate Morgan: The Search for the Ghost of the Hotel del Coronado" was written by Alan May . His book refutes the suicide claim and gives compelling evidence that Kate was murdered by her husband. A maid that may have befriended Kate is said to have also disappeared at that time. Some suggest that she was also murdered but the body removed by the hotel staff and the story hushed up so as not to arise anxiety with the hotels guests. Since Kate’s death in 1892 there have been many instances of paranormal activity at the hotel. One of the hot spots of activity is Kate’s room, number 302 which is now 3312. The activity is not confined only to that particular room though. Voices are heard when no one is there. Objects seem to move by themselves, lights flicker, TV’s turn themselves on and off. There are unexplained noises, strange unexplained smells, sudden temperature changes, strong drafts even when the windows are closed and even sightings of Kate herself. One of the better known cases is of a secret service agent that was staying at the hotel protecting the president. The agent was staying in Kate's old room. He complained to the management that there was too much noise coming from the room above him. The only problem is Kate’s room is on the top floor.

And a modern ghost-hunting investigation: