It’s been said that Virginia is one of the most haunted states in the nation – and given our history, including the Revolutionary War and Civil War, it’s not too much of a surprise that a few spirits might be hanging around. I don’t know much about ghosts, but from what I understand, they don’t always appear on command. Which is fine with me, but if ghost hunting is your kind of thing, what could be better than actually staying for the whole night at a place that is said to be haunted? These 10 hotels in Virginia, many of them historic, have all been the site of reported paranormal activity – from things that go bump in the night to full-on hauntings of the Scooby-Doo variety.
1. By the Side of the Road Bed and Breakfast, Harrisonburg
With top ratings on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, this charming Revolutionary War era hotel and cottages keeps visitors coming back -- even after death, it would seem. A few of the haunted happenings said to occur here are unexplained footsteps on the 3rd floor (where the innkeepers have traditionally lived) and doors that open and shut by themselves. The hotel has served as both the home of the early leaders of Mennonite Church and a Civil War hospital, so perhaps a few spirits got left behind along the way. But hauntings aside, this award-winning hotel gets top marks for luxury accommodations, and gourmet foods, so it's well worth the visit.
2. Boxwood Inn, Newport News
When inn owner, Kathy Hulick, took over this three-story, 10,000 sq. ft. house built in 1897, she didn't necessarily believe in ghosts. But after a few experiences like unexplained tugging at the back of her head, marching noises coming from empty rooms, and inexplicably rearranged silverware in the dining hall, Hulick is a believer. Fortunately, whatever spirits linger here seem to be gentle ones. One report claims the primary spirit is that of Nannie Curtis, the original owner's wife, who likes to knock on doors early in the morning. An elderly gentleman with a cane is also said to make an appearance on occasions. Ghosts or not, the Boxwood Inn still gets excellent reviews.
3. The Glencoe Inn, Portsmouth
If you have to have a ghost, the Glencoe Inn ghost is the one to have. Said to be an elderly woman, this gentle spirit is seen fussing over the roses in the hotel garden. A strong scent of roses also fills the main hall, particularly in winter when such a smell wouldn't be expected. Located in historic Old Town Portsmouth, this late 19th century inn retains all the charm of the past - and with 5-star ratings, seems none the worse for a little otherworldly activity.
4. Edgewood Plantation Bed and Breakfast, Charles City
This graceful ante-bellum plantation home was built in 1849, but now serves as a snapshot of the past, allowing visitors to feel as though they've travelled back in time with Victorian decor and luxuriously old-fashioned amenities. And apparently, the trip comes complete with an actual Southern Belle. Lizzie Rowland, who died of a broken heart when her soldier love never returned from the Civil War, is said to haunt the old plantation home, patiently waiting for her soldier to return. She is seen peeking out from behind curtains and watching through the upstairs window, where her name has been etched into the glass. Her presence was so intriguing that the Edgewood Plantation was featured on the SyFy channel's Ghost Hunters. And if you still don't believe me? Join the Edgewood for a ghost tour and see for yourself.
5. The Wayside Inn, Middletown
Called one of the Most Haunted Inns in America, the Wayside Inn (c.1797) is also one of the oldest inns in Virginia still in operation. For more than 200 years, the Inn has served travelers, including some who decided to stick around from the Civil War when the Inn served as a hospital. War veterans have been spotted in the lobby and visitors have reported strange footsteps and voices. Fortunately, these spirits seem friendly and only make the Inn that much more intriguing.
6. Lafayette Inn, Stanardsville
While our ghosts up until now have been friendly ones, this one carries a slightly more gruesome back story. Identified by the National Paranormal Society as a haunted location, the Lafayette is rumored to have a phantom bloodstain left after a Confederate soldier learned that his wife had been unfaithful with a Yankee soldier and committed suicide. The stain is said to reappear daily and the solider is seen wandering the halls with a pistol, looking for his rival. Of course, rumors aren't always true -- and true or not, the Lafayette doesn't seem to have suffered as it enjoys outstanding reviews and offers an award-winning restaurant.
7. The Black Horse Inn, Warrenton
This Civil War-era bed and breakfast has been named one of the Top Inn's in the Nation for 5 years in a row for its exceptional beauty and accommodations. In the heart of Virginia's horse and wine country, activities at this Inn are plentiful -- including activities of the paranormal kind. With a history that includes a stint as a Civil War hospital, it's no wonder that there are rumored to be as many as four resident spirits, including a laughing nurse, a sneaky ghost who leaves impressions on the bed in the Burgundy Room on occasion, a Scrooge who topples the Christmas tree with regularity, and "the Dancer" who taps loudly up and down the stairs.
8. Olde Town Inn, Manassas
Located in the heart of Old Town Manassas, a small Northern Virginia town with roots that date back to the Civil War, The Olde Town Inn has long been a favorite hangout for locals and stopping place for D.C. area visitors. Not one to be left out of the fun, Miss Lucy, as the resident spirit is known, likes to frequent rooms 50, 52 and 54. Lucy is thought to be a young, and clearly playful, spirit from the 19th century whose pranks include strange noises and levitation -- yes, I said levitation. Guests have reported seeing their partners levitated before being dropped to the floor next to the bed. I guess ghouls just wanna have fun, huh?
9. The Thornrose House at Gypsy Hill, Staunton
Built in 1912 just outside of Downtown Staunton, The Thornrose House offers elegant grounds and a luxurious stay for visitors. Although the hotel is under new management as of 2014, legends have a way of carrying over. It is said that a ghost named Caroline haunts the historic home. Curtains mysteriously open and keys disappear, only to reappear in the room known as "Caroline's Room." While little is known about her history, it is possible that she was the nurse of a little girl who died in the room many years ago.
10. The Martha Washington Inn, Abingdon
This quaint, historical inn has quite a history – and no fewer than 6 ghosts. The inn, built in 1832 as a private home, was the all-female Martha Washington College during the Civil War. When it was turned into a hospital, many of the young women became nurses. One nurse, Beth, fell in love with a Union soldier patient, whom she would comfort with her violin as he lay dying. Over the years, a young woman has been seen visiting Room 217 (where the soldier died) and the sound of violin music can be heard through the door. Another Confederate soldier left a reappearing bloodstain on the floor when Union soldiers shot him as he told his sweetheart goodbye. Other reported hauntings include a mangled soldier who tracks mud through the house, a wandering horse looking for his master, slaves buried in the walls of the Inn’s basement, and a malicious spirit in the tunnel that connects the inn to the neighboring Barter Theater.
Fortunately, it would seem that most of our haunted hotel ghosts are the friendly types. But that’s not to say that if I saw or heard any of them during my stay, I wouldn’t be spending a very sleepless night — most likely locked in the bathroom. But for those of you with less sensitive dispositions, I would love to know about any experiences you may have had — at these hotels or any others. Tell me your stories in the comments below!