Imagine booking a room at a small, charming, unusual hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai using a popular mobile travel app, only to discover that the room is… haunted! This happened to my friend Dana. As Dana said, she went to bed at midnight after a long day of travel. But that didn’t happen as planned. She struggled to sleep. Then, at 3 a.m., Dana claims she saw the pale, steaming head of an older man hovering over her bed, uttering words she couldn’t hear. (Trust me, Dana is pretty unique customer an adventure it deserves its own blog.)
I haven’t had a chance to travel as much lately, but when I get back to it, I sure hope I don’t go through what Dana went through. I would actually like to know things in advance about where I will be staying, which may be a little outside the centerfor example, is the place haunted?
Wouldn’t it be practical, then, if your favorite travel app could not only provide a “your hotel may be haunted” notification, but also provide a bit of history behind why – without having to search for a random Top 10 blog or Tik Tok video that might not even include your particular hotel?
Does such a travel app exist? No, not at the moment.
Still, maybe there IS a ghost of a chance that this kind of app will materialize soon.
When this happens, the revelation can be on SAP Innovation Awards! Even now a SAP customer or partner can be development of such a tool. If so, I can’t wait for this app to be celebrated at a future innovation awards show. Honestly, think how much fun that would be!
In the spirit of Halloween
It is Halloween, after all, so bear with me as I share stories about a few of my hometown hotels with their own unique haunted history—information not found in any travel app that I know of.
In the North Beach area of San Francisco, there is a small, old hotel that was built among the ruins of the 1906 earthquake by Bank of America founder A.P. Giannini. I passed it every day when I worked in the area. Today, it’s a popular place to stay for budget travelers who want to enjoy the Italian restaurants in the neighborhood near Fisherman’s Wharf.
But what isn’t widely known is that this family-run hotel once thrived as a bustling brothel during the town’s wild Barbary Coast days. His former madam, known for her boisterous personality, still roams the halls of her former establishment, knocking on doors, with room 33 being her favorite haunt. But she is not alone. A sad little ghostly girl is sometimes seen in the corridors – always reaching for the doorknob of a room. reason? unknown
If you’re into classic Art Deco decor but require all the amenities of a modern hotel, then there’s a century-old hotel near Union Square that’s just right for you. But be warned. Room 207 is where you might meet one hotel guest who doesn’t want to leave – even though he’s long since left this mortal plane. Reports of doors mysteriously opening and closing and small objects appearing or disappearing have continued for years. The destructive spirit hovering in the room is believed to be that of the famous playwright Lillian Helman, who had regular liaisons there in the 1920s with the writer Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon. Perhaps Miss Hellman’s ghost is still searching for the elusive bejeweled scythe, much like Brigid O’Shaughnessy, the fictional femme fatale of the book written by her lover – which coincidentally is set in San Francisco.
On the other side of the Fairmont
Perhaps the most famous ghost in San Francisco concerns Flora Somerton, a beautiful 18-year-old debutante who disappeared in 1876. Legend has it that she ran away to escape an arranged marriage to a wealthy but much older gentleman. So she ditched her big engagement party at her home across the street from the historic Fairmont Hotel, and was never seen again. That is, until 50 years later. In 1926, the desiccated body of an elderly woman was found in a cheap hotel room in Butte, Montana—reportedly wearing the same 19th-century white ball gown and jewelry in which Flora had escaped. There were old, flimsy newspaper clippings about Flora’s disappearance pinned to the walls of the small, damp room. It was her. Flora was finally found. Her body was returned to San Francisco, where she was buried in the family plot. But Flora’s story doesn’t end there. Today, as you approach the Fairmont Hotel on any sunny afternoon, look out for what many people have seen over the years: the ghostly figure of the beautiful, young Flora, umbrella in hand, briskly walking down California Street, then disappearing as she turns around the corner to where her home once stood – and always in that billowing white ball gown.
There are many more stories of haunted hotels and their ghostly history here in the San Francisco Bay Area. And in Yours city too no doubt. But I’ll have to wait patiently for some future travel app to tell me which ones. Maybe I’ll get my wish in the next 10th Anniversary SAP Innovation Awards 2023willing spirits.