Haunted Hotspots: Inside LA's Eerie Nightlife Scene

Party here if you dare….

Los Angeles is known for its killer party scene, but it’s also famous for its legendary ghost stories. In fact, several of the city’s most iconic nightlife venues are said to be haunted, attracting thrill-seeking tourists and curious locals for decades.

From Hollywood hotels still frequented by dead celebs to dive bars run by gangster ghosts, explore our list of reportedly haunted LA hotspots.

MILLENNIUM BILTMORE HOTEL

If these walls could talk. The Biltmore is rich in Tinseltown history. Here, Al Capone made him himself comfortable in the Presidential Suite, Rocky boxed his way to history on the ballroom and the Academy Awards were hosted in the ’30s. Taylor Swift has even danced on the reception desks. However, what this downtown hotel is probably most famous for is its dark history. Dubbed “The Black Dahlia” after her gruesome murder, actress Elizabeth Short was last seen alive at the Biltmore on January 9, 1947. Now, as one of LA’s most notorious victims, she has cocktail named after her made with vodka, Chambord black raspberry liqueur and Kahlua which is a popular order at the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room

In addition to the Dahlia connection, paranormal activity is said to be prevalent at the downtown hotel. The elevator regularly stops on the 8th floor for no reason and guests have reported seeing the ghost of a nurse on the second floor and the ghosts of two kids running across the balcony in the gorgeous Crystal Ballroom. Well-known yogi Paramahansa Yogananda’s spirit allegedly lives here too. He died in the Music Room (now the lobby) of a heart attack in 1952.

506 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, @thebiltmorela

MAGIC CASTLE

Billing itself as “the most unusual private club in the world,” the Magic Castle, is an ultra-exclusive nightclub for magicians and magic enthusiasts. But off stage is where you’ll find plenty of  unusual and unearthly happenings around the Hollywood property. There’s the Houdini Séance Room, that guests have used to make contact with the spirit world. The music room is said to be occupied by a piano-playing ghost named Irma while a phantom bartender from the days of old has been seen serving up drinks at Hat & Hare (just one of the five bars inside the castle). In the Haunted Cellar, the ghost of a young girl has been seen wandering the halls.

And if that’s not chilling enough, several people have actually died at the Magic Castle, including the original owner of the house, Rollin B. Lane and a beloved magician who committed suicide just before he was supposed to go on stage. Just know, if you are looking to go ghost-hunting here, make sure you have an in. Magic Castle is only open to its members and their lucky invited guests.

7001 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, @magiccastle

CHATEAU MARMONT

A longtime hangout for the A-List crowd, the Chateau Marmont has a star-studded history of spooks. Comedian Jim Belushi was found dead in Bungalow 3 after a hard-partying in 1982 while doomed starlets such as Sharon Tate and Natalie Wood stayed here shortly before their deaths. Guests and hotel employees have reported windows opening on their own, furniture moving, the sounds of voices when no one’s there, even apparitions of floating heads.

Ghosts of famous celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Howard Hughes, Boris Karloff and Jim Morrison have also been said to have made appearances at the chateau. Spy on these spirits while sipping on a martini inside the lobby bar or at a cozy table on the idyllic garden terrace.

8221 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, @chateaumarmont

THE VICTORIAN

The Victorian is one of Santa Monica’s best party sports, but it’s also one of the spookiest. The home was originally built near the Hotel Miramar in 1892, before it moved to its current Heritage Square location 1973. Its last caretaker was an elderly lady named Delia and no one is quite sure who she was or where she disappeared to when the house was moved. Some say she never left, as her ghost has been reportedly spotted in the Basement Tavern bar. Staff has also reported strange nighttime noises, opening doors, flickering lights and footsteps when partiers go home.

2640 Main St., Santa Monica, @thevictoriansm

YAMASHIRO

Perched over Hollywood Boulevard, Yamashiro is known as having one of the best views in town, but it comes with some serious creeps. In 1948, Thomas O. Glover bought this exotic hillside Japanese-inspired bungalow from the previous owners where it once operated a brothel. He and his wife are said to still walk the inner courtyard where their ashes were laid to rest. And that’s just the beginning. On the grounds, which includes a 600-year-old pagoda, security guards have consistently reported strange bumps in the night. Feeling brave?  Reserve table 9 in the Sunset Room. It’s said to be the place where an unhappy lady spirit sits, waiting endlessly for her guest to arrive.

1999 N. Sycamore Ave., Los Angeles, @yamashirola

FORMOSA CAFE

At Formosa Cafe, keep an eye out for gangster ghosts. The recently restored, 80-year-old bar was once a well-known as a hide-out for the notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel and his gambling operations were run out of the old red train car inside Formosa. Siegel’s floor safe is still embedded in the floor under his favorite table, and years ago, a psychic medium was summoned to ask for his permission before it was cracked open. (Spoiler alert: It was empty). Today, it is exposed and illuminated in its original location. Since they opened the safe, staff and patrons have occasionally reported Siegel has been seen and heard by many members of staff.

And he’s not the only ghost at Formosa. Former owner Lem Quon has been reported sitting in his favorite booth, Number 8, and he supposedly pinches employees who are slacking off (which he did in real life). There have also been reports of a man sitting in a booth, but you can only see him through his reflection in the bar’s large mirror.

Bartenders have also claimed someone plays Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “New York, New York” on repeat late at night. Perhaps it is the ghost of the singer himself or maybe one of his famous friends, like Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean or Elvis Presley, who were all loyal patrons of Formosa.

7156 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, @theformosa

TOWNHOUSE AND DEL MONTE SPEAKEASY

Townhouse is Venice’s oldest bar and its basement, now the home to 1930s-themed Del Monte Speakeasy, was a true speakeasy during the Prohibition era. Back then, the secret bar hid its booze in underground tunnels, which are now used as utility hallways. Some say former proprietor Frank Bennett, who owned the bar from 1972 until his death in 2003, still haunts his favorite corner booth across from the bar. One woman even reported her hair being pulled when she was alone in the bathroom washing her hands. Sheesh!

52 Winward Ave., Venice, @townhousevenice

THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT

There is more to The Hollywood Roosevelt than its star-studded parties and famed Hockney pool. The hotel, which opened in 1927, is crowded with superstar spirits. Handsome actor Montgomery Clift has been blamed for patting guests’ shoulders and watching maids in Room 928, where he stayed for three months while filming “From Here to Eternity.”  The ghost of Marilyn Monroe has been reported enjoying her old suite, 1200. Shortly after her death, the actress’ image reportedly appeared in a large mirror inside the hotel and has supposedly re-appeared many times since. The ghost of classic film star Carole Lombard, who died in a plane crash in 1942, has also been spotted floating around the upper floors.

In the Blossom Room, where the first Oscars were held, two ghosts, one in a tuxedo and one in a white suit, have been documented. High-profile suicides have happened here, including former child actor Tom Conlon who checked in one afternoon in 1940 to make his second suicide attempt of the day. 

7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, @thehollywoodroosevelt

EL CID

Silver Lake’s El Cid is rumored to be one of the active paranormal hotspots in the city. Glasses smashing, lights turning on and off, the bathroom door slamming and locking from the inside on its own, dolls moving in their display cases and beer bottles floating across the bar have all been reported here. In fact, it’s a well known thing that employees here refuse to close up alone. 

The bar does has some creepy roots. In 1925, the building was converted into a Jail-themed café, complete with waiters dressed as guards and prisoners. Even the stone wall along Sunset Boulevard resembled prison walls complete with a watch tower. After operating as the Cabaret Concert Theatre—a favorite nightspot among television and film producers, talent scouts, agents, and celebrities during Hollywood’s Golden Age—Flamenco dancers Juan Talavera and Margarita Cordova opened the venue as El Cid and remodeled the building in the style of a 16th-century Spanish tavern. Today, some people swear they have heard guitar playing coming from an empty stage, which some believe is the ghost of Gino D’Auri, a flamenco guitarist who passed away in 2007. 

4212 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, @elcidsunset

H.M.S. Bounty

Located in the bottom floor of the Gaylord Apartments, the H.M.S. Bounty is a 1920s-era nautical bar built by Gaylord Wilshire (yes, that’s who Wilshire Boulevard is named after). He actually created the Miracle Mile by building it atop the City Dump, which had been a popular place to dump murdered bodies as well. Some women who have used Bounty’s ladies’ room have reported feeling pinched, perhaps from the leering phantom real estate developer who was known for his big ego.

3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, @thehmsbounty 

Musso & Frank

As the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, it’s no surprise Musso & Frank Grill has its share of supernatural activity. Opened over 100 years, (it celebrated its centennial in 2019), Musso & Frank has welcomed many celebrities over the decades, with a few lingering in the afterlife.  Errol Flynn, Orson Welles and Jean Harlow’s ghosts have all reportedly been spotted here. Regulars maintain that the ghost of Charlie Chaplin can still be found cozily settled in the booth where he dined every day for years and was always kept ready for him—Number 1 in the Old Room, right by the window. There have also been alleged sightings of a headless spirit running around, whoever that may be.

6667 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, @mussoandfrankgrill

EL CARMEN

El Carmen was first opened by widow Encarnación Gomez in the late 1920s and went on to become notorious on the LA. scene. Cecil B. DeMille, Ricardo Montalban, Nat King Cole, Loretta Young, Vincent Price and John Wayne were all regulars here, while the classic line up of Fleetwood Mac was formed over tequilas here back in the 1970s. But behind the scenes, employees have long felt cold spots in this Mexican restaurant, experienced unidentified electrical problems and reported boxes falling off shelves in the upstairs office. There have also been mystery gifts of candy found – but from whom? Gomez was known for being “sweet” long ago and used hand out treats from a candy bowl behind the till to her favorite customers, so some believe it’s her ghost. Others think the hauntings can be credited to Gomez’s stepdaughter, Martha Paulino, who was a member of the Magic Castle and worked as manager at El Carmen for 30 years.

8138 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, @elcarmenla

THE GEORGIAN HOTEL

Known as one of the most haunted spots in Santa Monica, The Georgian Hotel was opened in 1933, converted into apartments in the 1960s and back to a hotel in the 1990s. Today, some guests and staff allege the spirits of former tenants still linger, pointing out examples of the front desk getting phone calls from unoccupied rooms and hearing voices in the former speakeasy space. When the restaurant is entirely empty, employees have reported hearing loud sighs and gasps, and have been startled by a disembodied voice who greets them with, “Good Morning.” At other times, the sounds of running footsteps are heard throughout the restaurant when no one is there.

1415 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, Georgianhotel.com@georgianhotelsm

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