Let me share a true story, a birthday story, about my haunted stay at The Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego, California and a haunting visit to the Culver Hotel in Culver City, California.
As the moon cast its silvery glow over my birthday, the perplexity of how to celebrate loomed like a shadow. My heart harbored an insatiable love for both old musicals, the mysterious ocean and the ghostly allure of haunted hotels. It was then that I resorted to asking my wise my mother, “What should I do?” An imaginative plan was unveiled, a plan that would weave the threads of my passions into an unforgettable adventure.
My husband and I commenced on a journey with dinner at the Culver Hotel, a place where the ethereal and the earthly mingled in an intricate dance. This venerable haunt opened its doors in 1924 and had once welcomed the cast of "The Wizard of Oz," a fact that never failed to enchant me or them, they have a live band that never forgets to play, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Miniature Dorothy and her friends enchant the display windows upon entering the large hotel doors. Although I adore this haunted haven, its proximity to my home which is also in Culver City, has prevented me from lodging there. Instead, I frequent its exquisite restaurant and upstairs bar area as it brims with history. Fun fact, Culver is the maiden name of my Great-Great-Great Grandma.
On one such occasion, I ventured for high tea with a friend who claimed to sense an otherworldly presence within the hotel's walls. Skepticism colored my response, for I had never felt any spectral stirrings myself. However, fate had a peculiar twist in store.
As nature beckoned, I reluctantly ventured toward the restroom, my heart harboring a fondness for "The Wizard of Oz" and the sight of Glenda the Good Witch's portrait gracing the bathroom door. Inside, the mundane act of relieving oneself was disrupted by an inexplicable occurrence. The distinct sounds of footsteps and a toilet flushing echoed through the confined space, yet when I emerged, the room was void of any other living soul. I tried to rationalize it away, attributing the noises to thin walls or an overactive imagination.
But then, as I approached the paper towels to dry my hands, the supernatural unfurled its enigmatic veil. The elegant swan-shaped faucet handles, a testament to the hotel's Art Deco charm, began to move of their own accord, releasing a cascade of water. I couldn't help but chuckle, despite the eerie spectacle before me. With a mix of astonishment and amusement, I addressed the unseen presence, "Okay, I was wrong. I suppose this place is haunted. And can you please turn the water off?” In a response that left me awestruck, the faucet handle slowly shifted back, turning the water off as if guided by spectral hands. The Culver Hotel had unveiled its supernatural secret, and I stood witness to its enchantment.
The birthday celebration continued as we continued to immerse ourselves in the haunting ambiance of the hotel, accompanied by live music and the eerie charm of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," a cherished ghostly movie my family and I love. It was a night to remember, where the paranormal and the ordinary converged, leaving me mesmerized by the mysteries of this beloved haunted hotel.
But the adventure had only just begun. Our next destination: The Del Coronado Hotel, a place I had no idea even existed. It is one of America's most haunted hotels, a large Victorian beauty which sits on the ocean's edge. This is a hotel where Liberace was discovered and where Marilyn Monroe was filmed in, “Some Like it Hot.” We hastily secured a room with an ocean view and embarked on a mesmerizing journey from Los Angeles to San Diego.
The drive was a sensory delight, with blooming wildflowers adorning the coastal roads, and the boundless ocean accompanying us like a faithful guide. The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian masterpiece, stood before us, steeped in history and elegance.
Constructed in 1888 by Elisha Babcock, Jr., and Hampton L. Story, this majestic beachfront resort had achieved the esteemed status of a National Historic Landmark in 1977. In its infancy, the hotel had been a marvel of technology, one of the largest electrified buildings in the nation. The buzz of innovation and progress had surely crackled in the air.
Upon entering the hotel, the grandeur of the Victorian era enveloped us, and we were led to our breathtaking room with a view that stretched to the horizon. As the evening unfurled, we decided to dine within the hotel, a decision that would prove providential.
The night took a spine-tingling turn as we embarked on a ghost tour, where the tale of Kate Morgan, a woman who’s life had tragically come to an end at the hotel, sent shivers down our spines. Little did we know, however, that the true intrigue awaited us on the journey back to our room.
As we strolled down the hotel's historic hallways, I heard the unmistakable sound of a man whistling, his haunting tune echoing through the corridors. I turned to
glimpse a man of short stature, donned in a khaki uniform that suggested military service. As we continued walking, the whistling grew louder, and I glanced back, expecting to yield the path to the stranger. But to my bewilderment, he had vanished into thin air. I jested to my husband, "The only eerie thing about this hotel is the whistling man trailing us."
My husband's face drained of color as he stammered, "What man? We are alone in this hallway, and I never heard any whistling." I thought he was playing a prank, but his terror was genuine. It was our first ghostly encounter, and the hotel's history was beginning to unravel its secrets.
Curious and intrigued, I later inquired with the hotel's management, discovering that the apparition was known to them as "The Whistling Houseman." He was no soldier but a houseman, and he had become an integral part of the hotel's spectral lore.
The night was far from over, and as we settled into our room, the supernatural would reveal itself once more. I was nestled in the cocoon of sleep when a tickling sensation brushed against my feet. Startled, I jolted upright, but there was no one to be found. I noticed the bathroom light was now somehow, turned on.
Our preference was for pitch-black darkness when we slept, and this intrusion of light was puzzling. I checked the time, and the clock read 12:12 AM. I nudged my husband awake, and he ventured to investigate. He confirmed that there was no logical reason for the light to activate; it operated on a motion sensor, and no insects or drafts could have triggered it. The only explanation that remained was the presence of a ghost. We shared a wry laugh and returned to sleep.
Doubts still lingered, but the spectral surprises were not yet complete. Once more, I felt an eerie sensation, as though something was tickling me, akin to a cat's gentle steps upon my form. Then, a soft touch graced my cheek and hair. I kept my eyes tightly shut, but then the tickling forced me to finally open them, I watched in awe as the bathroom light shot to life once more, this time with my very own eyes as witness.
I leaped out of bed, filled with excitement and exhilaration. The time on the clock read 4:23. I hastily captured photographs of the bathroom from where I sat on the bed, determined to document the unexplainable. I woke my husband once more, and he dutifully investigated, finding nothing amiss except for the ghostly presence we had already embraced.
Driven by curiosity, I contacted the hotel's front desk to inquire about the abnormal behavior of the bathroom light. The receptionist's voice quivered as she assured me that such incidents were not normal and its never happened in that room, room. She even offered to send a maintenance worker, but I declined, our courage bolstered by the intriguing specter that had graced our night.
The remainder of the evening passed without incident, and I drifted into a peaceful slumber, a contented smile on my face. The Hotel del Coronado had gifted me with a birthday beyond my wildest dreams—a ghostly feline companion, the mysterious Whistling Houseman, and an unexplainable bathroom light. And to top it all off, I awoke to the realization that it was Frank L. Baum's birthday, the very man who had penned "The Wizard of Oz."
We embarked on another tour of the hotel that afternoon and learned that Frank L. Baum had found inspiration within the hallowed halls of the Del Coronado, and my own fascination with his work added a layer of enchantment to our stay. The hotel tour unveiled the crown lights that Frank Baum had created, a testament to his affection for this magical place.
It was a birthday filled with enchantment, where my love for the ocean, haunted hotels, and all things mystical converged. The Hotel del Coronado had not only delivered thrilling adventures but also a symphony of birthday surprises orchestrated by the unseen. As I gazed out at the vast expanse of the ocean from our room, I couldn't help but feel that I had embarked on a journey that transcended time and reality, where the lines between the living and the spectral were blurred, and where each moment was etched with the magic of the unknown. And much to my amazement something followed me home as the lights would go off and on….but when I asked them to leave, they obliged and that’s how you know it’s a good ghost…and I shall lovingly call her, Glenda the Good. Until next time Glenda the Good…