The South has always been home to great storytellers. We grow up on tales passed down from generation to generation, getting bigger and better with each retelling. Perhaps that’s, in part, why the South is also home to the wildest, most haunting ghost stories.

Or, is it because we boast some of the country’s oldest buildings — buildings where some of the former residents never quite got the call to leave? Many of us remember a home that gave you the chills each time you walked by it, or that abandoned building downtown where not a soul dares to enter. But, whatever the origin of these ghost stories told in anxious whispers, rarely do we get the chance to actually test these theories for ourselves, especially not overnight.

That’s why haunted hotels are so enchanting. For those who want to tempt the spirits, a stay at a haunted hotel makes for an exhilarating night of hiding behind the covers or pulling out your camera to see if you can capture a flash of something paranormal. If that sounds like an ideal way to kick off this Halloween season, here are four hotels to add to your bucket list ASAP — hotels where some guests have decided to overstay their checkout time, by more than a few lifetimes.

4 of the Most Haunted Hotels in the South

Jekyll Island Club Resort | Jekyll Island, Georgia

371 Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island, GA 31527 • (912) 319-4349

Once the playground of America’s most prominent families, Jekyll Island is a quiet, pristine collection of beaches just south of St. Simons Island. It’s also home to Jekyll Island Club Resort, a coastal retreat founded in 1886. A cheerful hotel with beautifully renovated rooms and pools begging for a plunge, it makes sense that some guests have chosen to linger.

Seven separate ghosts have been counted on the property, and fortunately for guests, all are reported to be both happy and friendly (the best kind, right?). One of the most well-known is JP Morgan himself. His family built a large condo on the property, and because of their dismay over Morgan’s cigar habit, he was relegated to the porch for his 5 a.m. smoke. Guests staying in these rooms often report the smell of cigar smoke wafting into their rooms before the sun rises.

Old photo of Jekyll Island Club Resort, a haunted hotel in the South
The ghost of JP Morgan himself reportedly haunts one of the porches on the property at the famously haunted Jekyll Island Club Resort, frequented only by reportedly friendly ghosts. Image: Jekyll Island Club Resort

Another guest favorite is a ghostly bellman wearing an old-fashioned uniform. He delivers grooms their freshly pressed suits on their wedding day — but is not a current employee of the resort, according to the guests and other bellmen who have spotted him.

To celebrate the season, and as a nod to their friendly ghosts, the Jekyll Island Club Historic District hosts a lantern-lit walking tour during the month of October, where you’ll learn not only about the ghosts on the hotel property, but also the ghosts that call the surrounding district home.

Aerial view of the golf course at Jekyll Island Club Resort
Jekyll Island Club Resort pictured here in present-day — can you blame ghosts for wanting to linger? Image: Jekyll Island Club Resort

RELATED: The Scariest, Most Haunted Places in the South

The Union Station Nashville Yards | Nashville, Tennessee

1001 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 726-1001

The Union Station Nashville Yards is a grand train station turned hotel, and, in its heyday, it served as the central train terminal for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. The terminal shut down in 1979, but the building’s history didn’t stop there. After a drastic renovation that restored its impressive soaring architecture and stained glass windows sweeping four stories high in the lobby, it reopened in 1986 as a hotel.

However, not everyone got the memo that the building had changed hands. Guests have reported a spirit named Abigail in Room 711. While she would never have stayed at the hotel, Abigail’s emotions tied her to the site of the old train station. She was romantically involved with a soldier during World War II and waved goodbye to him there. As the war ended, the story goes that she returned to the station — only to find that her soldier would not return. Now, decades later, she continues to return to the station, to Room 711, looking for her beloved. But, don’t worry. Guests report that while Abigail is forlorn, she is not angry, and she’s a friendly apparition to all who encounter her.

Exterior view of the Union Station Hotel, a haunted hotel in the South
Nashville’s grand Union Station at Nashville Yards at sunset | Image: Union Station at Nashville Yards
Military Men on train pulling out of Union Station in Nashville
Long before Union Station was a Nashville hotel, it was an active train station. This photo, circa 1940s, shows soldiers leaving the station — just as Abigail’s would have. Image: Grannis Photography

The Historic Partridge Inn | Augusta, GA

2110 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904 • (706) 737-8888

The Partridge Inn has welcomed celebrities, dignitaries, presidents, revelers, and vacationers since its opening in 1910. Located in the historic Summerville district of Augusta, the hotel has close ties to the Masters Tournament and is known across the South for its joyful celebrations, its iconic front porch, and its impeccable Southern hospitality. But not all guests there are paying — one century-old patron walks the halls with a heartbreaking story.

Emily, as she’s become known, was one of Augusta’s most revered beauties, and on her wedding day, she primped and preened at The Partridge Inn. She prepared herself to walk down the aisle in an impressive custom dress and stunning veil. This was to be the wedding of the year — or possibly the century — in Augusta.

Old photo of The Partridge Inn, a haunted hotel in the South
The resident ghost of the Partridge Inn was met with tragedy there on what was to be her wedding day. Image: Partridge Inn

However, as she placed the veil upon her head in her final moments as a single woman, she received the news that her fiancé had just been murdered in a case of mistaken identity. Heartbroken, she never moved on and never married — and today, guests still spot her wandering the halls in her wedding gown.

The Partridge Inn makes the best of its otherworldly resident and has embraced Emily with a signature cocktail in her name, to honor her memory. It consists of Botanist gin, butterfly pea flower tea, fresh lemon juice, and blueberry-and-lavender-infused simple syrup.

Exterior view of The Partridge Inn
Today, the team at the Partridge Inn honors their resident ghost with a signature gin cocktail in her name. Image: Partridge Inn

RELATED: 8 Iconic Southern Hotels On Our Bucket List

1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa | Eureka Springs, Arkansas

75 Prospect Ave., Eureka Springs AR 72632 • (855) 725-5720

Sprawling across the heights of the Ozark Mountains and nestled among the Victorian homes of Eureka Springs, the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is an architectural gem that offers warm hospitality, stately gardens, and jaw-dropping scenery.

It also offers guests a chance to stay at the most haunted hotel in America. Yes, you read that right. It’s seen so many paranormal sightings that it’s earned that accolade from publications and television shows alike. More than a few ghost hunters have set up their equipment to catch sight of the other side. But why is it so haunted? Most reports point to the building’s previous life as a “cancer hospital,” when, in fact, it was run by a con artist convincing patients he’d heal them with water from the nearby springs. Dozens, if not hundreds, passed away there, and some never left.

Aerial view of the Crescent Hotel, a haunted hotel in the South
The 1886 Crescent Hotel has been called THE most haunted hotel in America. Image: 1886 Crescent Hotel

How many ghosts are walking the halls of the 1886 Crescent Hotel? There could be too many to count. The hotel’s website is filled with guest accounts of spirits named Theodora, Michael, and others — and guests purposefully book the rooms that have seen the most activity. The good news? Most of these ghosts prefer to act innocently, tucking in guests for the evening and organizing their items in the night.

The 1886 Crescent Hotel leans into its bone-chilling history by offering tours, shows, and more. Whether you prefer a more theater-oriented take or want to pull out all the ghost hunting stops, you’ll find the spooky experience you’re searching for in Eureka Springs.

Room at the Crescent Hotel
The 1886 Crescent Hotel doesn’t shy away from its haunted reputation — it offers a wide variety of activities centered around its resident ghosts. Image: 1886 Crescent Hotel

What do you think? Would you stay overnight at one of these haunted hotels? 


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About the Author
Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a Southern writer, Richmond native, and aspiring gardener. She loves small-town travel and homemade lattes.