You are here: Real Ghost Stories :: Ghost Tours & Haunted Hotels :: Hotel San Carlos

Real Ghost Stories

Hotel San Carlos


The Hotel San Carlos was one of the first hotels built in downtown Phoenix. Construction began in 1927 and as of today, it is still an operating hotel. The movie 'Psycho' actually filmed some of the beginning scenes at this hotel. Several years ago I was invited to my niece's art show where her works were showcased in what was then called 'The Ghost Lounge'. This bar was located on the hotel's ground floor and unfortunately has been closed down and closed off to the public now for a while. The hotel was quite popular in it's heyday and many famous Hollywood icons stayed here, including Marilyn Monroe, who always requested a room by the pool so as to avoid the paparazzi who may have been lurking in the hallways.

I had heard stories that there were reports of multiple ghosts residing here. This historic hotel is a favorite spot for ghost hunters and paranormal teams who choose to spend the night in a paid room (my understanding is where this is an operating hotel, they don't allow groups to come in and conduct random investigations, however, this may have changed).

I arrived in the early evening and enjoyed seeing all the different art displays of young talented people. There was also a fashion show with some incredible designs being modeled. After the festivities I decided to explore the different floors and took the antique elevator up to different floors. Some of the hotel room doors have plaques displaying the famous people who have stayed there. Displayed on the hallway walls were enlarged sepia photos showcasing various scenes from Phoenix taken a century ago, when the streets were still unpaved. Horses pulled trolleys through the dusty streets. It was fascinating.

After some exploring on the various upper floors, I made my way down to the 3rd floor. I started exploring the halls and their treasure of pictures from a bygone era when I started to hear what sounded like big band music. It was very static sounding and came in and out. I attributed it to an old piped in sound system. It would come in and fade out, then it would make a crackling sound. I thought this was very apropos given the age of the hotel and actually thought to myself, nice touch. I continued down the hallways on the 3rd floor and would intermittently hear this big band music that seem to be coming from the ceiling, although I didn't see anything that resembled a modern speaker mount. I didn't really think all that much of it and decided to call it a night and head home.

I had parked my car in the hotel's valet parking so went to the front desk to retrieve it. I happened to mention to the woman sitting there that it was a very nice touch having the big band music piped in on the 3rd floor. She gave me an odd look, slowly started sharking her head, and confessed that there was no music at all piped into the hallways. She said she thought I had an experience. This woman was so afraid of the 3rd floor that she confessed to me that she refused to go up there. It is reported to be the most haunted floor.

I left feeling very perplexed. Did I really hear something ghostly? This was, after all, an operating hotel. Was it coming from one of the tv's in the guest rooms and maybe several guests had it on the same channel? What are the chances? After this experience I did a little research. Apparently there was a big band director many years ago that used to stay at this hotel when there was a performance at the nearby Orpheum Theater. I'm not sure what to think of this experience. It was interesting though that I only heard it on the 3rd floor.

Other hauntings by DreamBird

Hauntings with similar titles

Find ghost hunters and paranormal investigators from Arizona

Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, DreamBird, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

DreamBird (7 stories) (25 posts)
2 years ago (2022-03-14)
Hi Rachel,
I did do some research around the time of this incident and the big band director is deceased. I don't remember exactly when the director stayed at the hotel but big band music was popular in the 30s and 40s so most likely that time frame. I don't recall there being an incidents around the director so it very well could have been coincidence. I'm not sure. It was definitely interesting though.

DreamBird (7 stories) (25 posts)
2 years ago (2022-03-14)
Hi Rajine,
It's quite possible it is. I guess there was a school house on that location before the hotel was built. There is also an old well in the basement. I haven't seen it but read that somewhere.

Rachel9997 (4 stories) (27 posts)
2 years ago (2022-03-11)
Hi DreamBird,

Interesting that there was a big band director that stayed there. Have you done any other research on the director? Are they deceased? How long ago did they used to stay there? Was there any incident involving them at the hotel?

Just some thoughts. Really interesting experience; thanks for sharing.
Rajine (14 stories) (797 posts)
2 years ago (2022-03-11)
Hi DreamBird

Perhaps the land the hotel is built on may be haunted, but it definitely sounds like a iconic and interesting place

To publish a comment or vote, you need to be logged in (use the login form at the top of the page). If you don't have an account, sign up, it's free!

Search this site: