The venerable Hotel del Coronado, San Diego’s landmark Pacific resort, has been experiencing paranormal activity for as long as anyone can remember – and with good reason. With more than 120 years of history behind her, it’s no surprise that this Victorian masterpiece has had its share of ghostly guests.
Though supernatural stories abound, most have to do with Kate Morgan, a beautiful young woman who checked in in 1892 – and never checked out. Kate (who may have been jilted by her lover) took her own life at the hotel, after spending five lonely and lovesick days waiting for a man who never arrived.
Today, Kate’s spirit seems to have remained at The Del, where she tends to occupy her former guestroom. But her beautiful apparition – and ghostly pranks – can be experienced throughout the rambling resort and grounds.
According to Christine Donovan, The Del’s historian and author of the book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, Kate is a relatively harmless ghost. “She generally limits her activity to fleeting appearances and inexplicable antics. Guests in Kate’s room report everything from breezes that come from nowhere to a television set that turns on and off by itself.”
But, more dramatic tales have also been told. Like the time a young couple – away for a romantic Valentine weekend – experienced a string of supernatural occurrences, culminating in their covers being ripped off in the middle of the night by a ghostly figure.
Kate’s presence isn’t limited to her own guestroom; another room records a lot of paranormal activity, as do Victorian Building hallways. Kate has also been seen in The Del’s gardens and along the beach.
One of the most “active” areas of the Hotel del Coronado is the resort’s gift shop, Est.1888.
This specialty store – which showcases the hotel’s vintage history – has hard time keeping glassware from “flying” off shelves or pictures from falling off walls. Because memorabilia related to Marilyn Monroe’s 1958 hotel filming of Some Like It Hot seems to be the most prone to tumbling, some long-time shop employees speculate that The Del’s resident ghost doesn’t like sharing the spotlight with Hollywood’s biggest star.
Donovan, who keeps files on guests’ paranormal experiences, receives many reports. Some are slight, like the California couple who heard a loud bang, followed by a woman’s humming in an empty hallway near Kate’s room. Others are more substantial, like the New York doctor who woke up to find a woman “standing at the foot of my bed laughing at me. She was wearing a long dark dress with a white collar.”
After one guest returned home, he sent the hotel an email with his account of “some strange unexplainable incidents” that included finding a carefully folded pile of clothes in a rumpled heap, and having a speaker phone that kept emitting a dial tone. The guest added, “I am not a superstitious person, but I’m a believer now.”
Sometimes a guest will wait years before contacting The Del, embarrassed to tell their tale. Says Donovan, “Whenever someone starts a conversation by saying, ‘I hope you don’t think I’m crazy,’ I know a ghost story is coming.”
**Do you dare spend the night in Kate Morgan’s room? Call 800-HOTEL-DEL to book your next spooky visit as a pre Halloween thrill or anytime.