You’ll find the almost 100 year old Hotel Monte Vista on San Francisco in Flagstaff, Arizona, where it’s been standing since New Years Day 1927. This little piece of desert history is home to at least nine different ghosts.
It’s lived through prohibition, seen the limelight—and today we’re going to dick-tect some stories from its past. What ghosts are still lurking around this 4.2-star hotel (according to Google Reviews)? We’re about to find out.
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History of the Hotel Monte Vista
During the 1920s, the town of Flagstaff, Arizona, was seeing an increase in tourists and like any young enterprising town they wanted to cash in. But when they took a critical look at the lodging they had available, they felt like they had nothing good enough to draw cash-carrying tourists in. Everything was old and dated—they wanted something that screamed only the best stay here.
So, in 1926, a fundraiser was set up in hopes to raise enough money to build the hotel of their collective dreams. Within a month the townspeople, along with author Zane Grey, were able to raise a whopping $200,000 to build their fancy new tourist draw. It wasn’t long before ground on the Hotel Monte Vista broke. Construction was started on June 8, 1926, close to the railroad and the new, soon-to-be-famous Route 66, and by New Year’s Day 1927, the doors were open.
This Spanish Colonial architectural hotel wasn’t actually known as Hotel Monte Vista when it first opened its doors. It was first called Community Hotel, as it was publicly owned. However the name didn’t quite give the town the pop they wanted. So, they held a contest for the naming of the hotel—which was won by a 12-year-old girl who decided to name it Hotel Monte Vista, meaning mountain view.
Its history is filled with adventure, limelight, and a little bit of criminal activity.
Mary Costigan, the second women in the world to ever receive a broadcasting license, started broadcasting her shows out of the hotel in 1929. And she was only the start of a long list of famous people who stayed there. The most famous of which are probably John Wayne and Freddie Mercury (though, as far as we know, they didn’t stay together).
In the 1940s and 1950s western movies were all the rage. Thanks to Sedona and Oak Creak being close, over 100 movies were filmed in Flagstaff. This is why this little hotel has had so many celebrity appearances. And, to show this off, each of the 73 rooms have been given a celebrity’s name to go with the room number. Movies have even been filmed at Hotel Monte Vista, with the two most famous being Casablanca and Forrest Gump.
But Hotel Monte Vista’s history isn’t just above ground—there’s plenty of it lurking right underneath its foundation.
Underground tunnels run between different buildings in Flagstaff, even making their way up to the Northern University of Arizona.
It is rumored that the tunnels were built and used by the Chinese workers in the area after a fire in 1900 went through the town. Other residents of Flagstaff blamed the fire on these workers (we’re not sure why, besides simply racism) and they were hassled so much that they built them to avoid the masses while they moved about town. We’re not sure of the validity of this story.
While today the tunnels are used for storage and piping, but before they were put to use it was found during their exploration that they had been used during prohibition to bring booze into town—which, let’s be honest, is not surprising at all. There were also abandoned moonshine distilleries and opium dens, and gambling machines found.
Unsurprisingly, some of this moonshine made its way into the hotel. The Cocktail Lounge in the hotel was set up to look like a newspaper publishing house. And while there were rumours in town about a bootlegging and speakeasy operation in the hotel, it wasn’t raided by the police until 1931. Two years later prohibition was over and the lounge was open again, this time not so secretly.
There are rumours of a shootout, drunken brawls, and even a cowboy riding his horse through the hotel’s lobby—but it appears none of it was properly recorded. You can likely thank prohibition for this.
To add a fun little tidbit of information: if you’re travelling to Flagstaff and see the sign above the Hotel Monte Vista start to flash, turn the radio on and find out what’s happening. Because the sign is so bright and high, it’s been used in the past to let locals know when an emergency is taking place.
Ghosts of the Hotel Monte Vista
With the Hotel Monte Vista being around for almost 100 years, we know there’s bound to be a ghost story or two… or, in this case, nine!
One of the more famous ghosts was reported by none other than John Wayne during one of his stays.
He’s said to be a friendly bellboy who will knock on doors claiming to have brought room service. But when you open the door, you’ll find no one there. He is also seen walking up and down the halls. If you want to make his acquaintance, you’re most likely to see him just outside of him 210.
But he’s not the only ghost hanging outside this particular room, there’s a woman who’s often seen wandering the halls. The ghostly activity is so bad that staff avoid putting people with pets in room 210, because dogs do not do well there.
Another ghost hanging out on the second floor is the Meat Man in room 220.
It’s said that a long-time boarder was living in the room. He often would hang big chunks of raw meat, like pigs or cows, from the room’s chandelier. Sometime in the 1980s, after the staff realized they had not seen the man in a few days they went to check up on him, only to find him dead in his room. Their best guess was that he had been there for 3 days.
Ever since then, the room has had an eerie feeling.
One repair man reported going into the room one day to make a few upgrades and fix a few lights. He left for a few minutes, turning everything off and locking the door behind him. But when he returned the lights were all on, the TV was blaring, and the linens on the bed had been taken off and thrown around the room. However, the door had been locked when he came back.
Guests who stay in the room have reported having cold hands touching them when they sleep. The TV will also often turn on without help from the living. There have even been reports of crashing sounds as if someone is throwing things around.
Moving up to the next floor, room 305 is reported to have the most active ghost.
Here you’ll find a rocking chair that sits by a window. Those who stay in the room have reported walking in to find a woman sitting in the chair looking out the window rocking. However, when they go back to the front to report it they are told there should be no one in the room. And the chair is empty when they get back.
The chair has often been seen to start rocking without anyone sitting on it. The staff have tried to move the chair away from the window in hopes to stop some of the activity, but when they return to the room it’s back in its original spot.
It’s also said there is often knocking coming from the closet. Some say this from the ghost herself letting people know she is there. However an employee of the hotel did say that it’s most likely just the pipes.
Next door, in room 306, you’ll find the ghostly version of ladies’ night.
In 1940, the Hotel Monte Vista was only two blocks away from Flagstaff’s redlight district. Apparently, sometime in the 1940s, two sex workers were brought back to the room. Some time during the visit both women were killed before being thrown from the third story window.
The room is now believed to be haunted by at least one, if not both, of the women. They often wake guests up, leaving them feeling uncomfortable, like someone is watching them.
They’re not exactly what you’d call friendly ghosts, it’s reported that they’ll go after men who stay in the room. Trying to suffocate them. Men have reported waking up feeling like there’s a hand over their mouth or throat. They struggle to breathe for a few moments before they are released by the ghosts.
These two ghosts apparently have the run of the hotel, because their apparitions have been seen in both the pool (billiard) room, and the lounge.
Speaking of the lounge, there are several other ghosts lurking here.
Two lovers are seen dancing. They are dressed in formal wear, and weirdly fit in well with the aesthetics of the place—if not for the fact that they’re transparent, you might not even know they were ghosts!
You might also come across the three bank robbers. Some time in the 1970s, it’s believed that three men robbed a nearby bank. One of them was shot during the heist, but instead of seeking medical help of some kind the three men decided to lay low in the Hotel Monte Vista’s lounge.
This was not the best move, as the robber who’d been injured ended up bleeding out before he could finish up his first drink. It is now believed that the man who died greets people when the lounge opens up. He’s also said to move furniture and drinks around.
This particular ghost is described as being more of a jokester ghost than a mean one.
The basement of Hotel Monte Vista is also said to have some ghosts lurking below ground. Now, this shouldn’t surprise anyone with the underground tunnels being right there.
One of the creepier ghosts is the basement baby. Staff have often reported hearing a baby cry while they are in the basement. The crying has been described as so creep that staff have refused to search around for its source.
Instead, they run up the stairs immediately to get away from the sound. Staff have reported that they have no clue why a baby would be in the basement crying, nor do they know how a ghostly one ended up spending his afterlife there.
The shadow man
The last known ghost of the haunted Hotel Monte Vista is the Shadow Man. He’s described as being 6 feet tall, but you can’t make out any features because he is always in shadow form. Most believe he is a prohibition era ghost.
It’s reported that the Shadow Man has a “menacing figure,” and seems to play the role of building security in the basement.
He often appears to those who are not hotel staff, and when they see him, he tries to intimidate them simply with his presence. From the stories told, it sounds like he is a pretty good ghost. Most reports of the Shadow Man are made by repairmen and delivery drivers.
Beyond simply the known ghosts of Hotel Monte Vista, the building has a reputation of footsteps echoing the halls, furniture being moved, and disembodied voices. These extra hauntings could be from the ghosts already checked into the hotel, or there could be some that staff have yet to discover.
Visiting the Hotel Monte Vista
Hotel Monte Vista is a quick three minute walk from the nearby Amtrak station, so if you’re travelling in early 1900s style this is the place to be. You can get yourself a room here for around $129, and overall the reviews are pretty positive on Google… though it only has a 3.5 on Tripadvisor.
Looking for more haunted hotels? Check these out:
- Book a stay at Hotel Vancouver where you might run into the Red Lady.
- Las Vegas has plenty of haunted hotels for you to explore.
- Stay at the Borden House where Lizzie may or may not have killed her parents.
- The Cecil Hotel is popular these days… but not for good reasons!
The Lady Dicks did not just magically come up with this information themselves, they, in fact, did research beyond Wikipedia (thanks jerky iTunes reviewer for your one-star comment), and here are those sources:
- The Hotel Monte Vista, Phoenix Ghosts.
- Hotel Monte Vista, HotelMonteVista.com.
- Haunted Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, Legends of America.
The Lady Dicks was created by Tae Haahr. The Lady Dicks are Andrea Campion and Tae Haahr. “Haunted Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Arizona” was written by Kimberley Miller, produced by Tae Haahr, and edited by Rory Joy. The Lady Dicks theme music, A Pink Panther, is licenced through AudioJungle.
Written by Kimberley Miller