This past weekend when my boyfriend and I were planning our date night, I suggested that we explore a haunted hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Usually when we go out on a Friday night, we meet up with friends for drinks, or we’ll head to a trendy eatery. Being so close to Halloween, I wanted to do something festive but also avoid the typical tourist attractions. We’ve been binge-watching The Haunting of Hill House (a must see), and that definitely inspired my idea. We also stopped by my favorite bookstore located inside an old bank vault.
I’m not sure how I feel about “ghosts,” and my boyfriend doesn’t believe in them at all…but it’s definitely interesting to visit these beautiful, old buildings after reading about their sordid history.
The interior is striking. It features intricate murals painted in 24 carat gold, massive crystal chandeliers, carved fountains, marble walls, towering columns, and bronze doorways and stairwells. The “Biltmore Angel” is a symbol of the hotel and it is incorporated throughout the interior. Every surface is etched, painted, or embellished.
We entered through the main lobby on Olive Street and the mural ceiling and opulent water fountain immediately stood out.
We next made our way to the Rendezvous Court which hosts afternoon tea. It features a grand double staircase, arched ceilings, and travertine walls.
When I was standing by the elevators I heard strange noises. Rumor has it Elizabeth Short known as the Black Dahlia haunts this lobby. In 1947 her mutilated body was found in Leimert Park. The Biltmore is one of the last places she was seen alive and they never caught her killer. To this day her murder remains one of Los Angeles most highly unsolved and media covered cases.
We decided to get a quick bite to eat at the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room and as we were walking to the back of the bar I felt a cold draft that would come and go. As we sat back on the comfy couches we marveled at the gorgeous architecture and both agreed that we would like white marble walls in our future home. The bar serves a number of classic cocktails like Tom Collins, Manhattans, and Old Fashioneds. One of their most ordered drinks is The Black Dahlia c. 1947; a blend of Citroen Vodka, Chambord, and Kahlua.
We shared the hummus and Pita and each of us had a glass of Pinot Grigio. As we were leaving we asked our waitress about the rumors surrounding this haunted hotel. She told us that one night when she was closing up the bar she felt someone shove her and when she went to say “excuse me” she realized that no one else was in the room. Kind of creepy.
After our bite to eat, we wanted to continue to walk around the hotel. We took the elevator up to the 9th floor where tourists have reported an ominous little girl roaming the hallways. I had an eerie feeling when we were peering down the staircase and I remembered reading about a suspicious death that happened in 2010. America’s Got Talent held auditions at the hotel and one of the contestants wives, Laura Finley was discovered dead on the staircase. The autopsy report indicated she died from blunt force trauma and her neck was broken. They have never found the killer and her husband is suing the hotel for wrongful death.
The Biltmore has been utilized as a filming location in tons of movies, TV shows and music videos. It was the one of the first places that the Academy Awards was held. This past summer I walked by and saw the filming for Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated neo-noir thriller, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. You may recognize it from Ghostbusters, True Lies, Blow, Entourage, Mad Men, Cruel Intentions, and Glee. Here’s a list of all the movies The Biltmore played a part in. Not long ago Ed Sheeran’s, “Thinking Out Loud” video was shot here.
You can flip through new and used selections and purchase graphic novels, zines, and vinyl.
Upstairs houses the Spring Arts Collective which are little art galleries where you can shop the artist’s work. Also upstairs are mazes and tunnels to get lost in and there’s a $1 dollar book section. My favorite part is the symbol of The Last Bookstore; the labyrinth created out of novels. Search their location on Instagram and you will see it over and over again.
On rainy days I love to grab a cup of hot cocoa, enter this literary playground, and spend a day browsing their unique and hard to find vintage books.
Two other haunted places I wanted to visit were The Cecil Hotel and The Alexandria Hotel. The Cecil is closed, and The Alexandria’s security wouldn’t let us in. Both have been the scene of “paranormal activity,” murders, and suicide. The Cecil was once the home to serial killers Richard Ramirez, aka “The Night Stalker,” and Jack Unterweger. In 2013, Canadian student Elisa Lam went missing. The LAPD released a strange surveillance video of her in the elevator leading to conspiracy theories. During this time guests complained of low water pressure, with some claiming the water was black and tasted odd. A few days later her body was discovered on the rooftop inside of a water tank. Many questions still linger as to what transpired.
The Alexandria, an SRO hotel that’s now used to house low-income residents has been detailed on ghost haunting shows. They say the 2nd, 11th and 12th floors, and the basement are haunted. Inside the Palm Court guests have reported seeing apparitions of people dancing and they’ve reported getting a migraine headache while there. A past guest wrote an interesting piece about their time residing at the hotel.