“Ninety per cent of our hotel staff is too frightened to work on this floor,” he said as the elevator doors opened on the tenth floor of the Saint Anthony Hotel. With a mischievous smirk, he led us out of the elevator and down the corridor to room 1080 which is (according to the staff) THE most haunted room of the hotel. I was too busy taking pictures to notice that I was shaking so hard my knees were knocking together. The halls of the hotel look like something right out of the movie “The Shining.”
Let me back up a bit to tell you about our stay at The Saint Anthony Hotel. I had chosen it because it was reported to have ghosts. The exterior of the building is unprepossessing, but you don’t judge a book by its cover! The interior is my definition of “opulence.” In fact, it is so breathtaking that it has been a destination for the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Demi Moore, and George Clooney. Then, there are those guests who check in … but never check out.
My friend and I had planned to spend the night and wander the halls taking pictures and hoping for ghosts. When we mentioned this at the front desk, an employee who had just ended his shift offered to give us a tour of the hotel to see parts that most guests never see — the parts of the hotel that scare the willies out of the employees. We got our own personalized ghost tour!
It began with a climb up this magnificent stairway to the Travis Room, and the private room behind it that gives employees a chill.
It seems that a guest on the balcony outside this locked room had glanced through a window to see a man sitting in a chair in the middle of the room. She noticed the lovely furnishings of the room and a grand piano. When she mentioned this later to one of the staff, they told her that no one went into that room and it certainly wasn’t furnished the way she described. Indeed, there was no piano there. She insisted they show her the room, which was nearly vacant. One of the employees who had worked at the hotel for decades remembered that when Mr. Morrison owned the hotel (in the 1930s) the room had been his office and he had kept a piano there. The guest then noticed a painting of a man on the wall and said that he was the man she had seen. It was a portrait of Mr. Morrison, who was long gone.
The employees say that this room stays terribly cold, even when they turn off the air to the room. They have heard strange noises there, most get an “odd” feeling on entering the room, and in fact few employees will visit it (if they can help it).
Our guide took us to visit the Peraux Room, a ballroom that still has the old crystal chandeliers. It is said that a doorway outside the room opens and closes on its own. The room itself is very grand, which might be why a ghostly woman in a red evening gown is sometimes seen floating through it.
We visited the basement of the building, where some of the business offices are located as well as the employee locker rooms and break room, the kitchen freezers, and the laundry room. Beyond those are other hallways that the employees rarely explore. They find it creepy down there. It is. One employee told us that she had heard the sound of a weeping woman in the laundry room … and she was the only living soul in the room!
While we were there, we heard an odd banging sound. Of course I went around the corner to check it out. The elevator door was thumping as if it were trying to open, but couldn’t. I figured if there was a ghost in there then it must want to come out. I pressed the button. The door opened and closed … and kept opening and closing. It wouldn’t stop. Perhaps it was broken, or not.
Our guide told us that there were tunnels that supposedly connect The Saint Anthony to The Menger and The Gunter Hotels. During Prohibition, those tunnels were used to hide the “hooch.” These days, no one goes into them; they are dangerous and frightening. At least, no living person goes into them.
We had been told stories about Room 1080. It seems that a cleaning woman had scrubbed the tub and then saw her name appear on it in ghostly handwriting. She was spooked, but she scrubbed the tub again and left the room. When her supervisor inspected the room, she found the employee’s name written on the tub. Thinking that the cleaning woman was playing a prank, the supervisor had her come scrub that tub all over again while she watched. As they stood there, the name re-appeared! Needless to say, the cleaning woman “retired” immediately from her employment at the hotel.
Personally, I thought the room was lovely. I would have stayed there in a heartbeat. That is, I would have until I heard some of the other stories about it.
By this time, we had spent a good two hours exploring the hotel with our gracious guide. It was late, and we didn’t want to take any more of his time. Shall I say that we wanted to take more of his time, but didn’t feel that was fair!
I did more exploring later in the night, talked to several other employees, and had a very odd experience on the elevator. I’ll tell you more about that in Part Two. For now let it suffice to say that The Saint Anthony Hotel was one of my favorite hotel stays in my life. Although our room was fabulous and the ghost hunting was good, for me the main attraction of The Saint Anthony is the gracious staff. If you go to San Antonio, don’t miss an opportunity to stay there. However, if you don’t want a ghostly experience, you might want to stay on some floor other than the tenth!