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Many believe all 600 rooms of the Cecil Hotel are cursed

The real story of the hotel that inspired American Horror Story: Hotel

  • 4
  • 00:14
  • 6 mi
  • $1
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Created by Destination Strange - September 19th 2016

The Cecil Hotel is one of LA’s most famous hotels, thanks in part to its dark history. Home to murderers, maniacs, and ghosts, some say the Cecil is anything but your average hotel, they say it’s cursed. In 1985 the Cecil was home to not only infamous serial killer Richard Ramirez, but fellow killer Jack Unterweger as well. Over the years it’s also been the sight of a string of strange and mysterious deaths, most recently that of Elisa Lam.

Photo of Cecil Hotel

640 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA, US

Cecil Hotel

In 1962, Pauline Otton jumped from her ninth-floor room, killing George Gianinni when her body landed on him. The unsolved murder of Goldie Osgood, aka the Pigeon woman. She was found robbed, strangled, raped, and stabbed inside her seventh floor room, long before Richard Ramirez stayed at the hotel.

Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker, became infamous when he terrorized LA from 1984-85, killing 13 women, all of which he did while staying in the top floor of the Cecil. According to tour guides he would dump his bloody clothes in the dumpsters out back after a night of killing.

Then, Jack Unterweger, a Ramirez copycat killer, murdered three prostitutes while staying at the Cecil, which many believe he chose as a nod to the Night Stalker himself.

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The Strange Death of Elisa Lam: 21-year-old Elisa’s body was found in February 2013, two weeks after her death, when the hotel patrons and staff began complaining that the water had begun to taste and look strange. Her body had been unknowingly decomposing inside the rooftop water tanks for two full weeks.

An investigation led police to a very strange hotel security video. The video shows Elisa entering the elevator alone, stopping to press the buttons on the panel. After several failed attempts at working the buttons, she exits the elevator and appears to have a conversation with someone who isn’t there. She then walks away, and moments later the elevator doors shut. Authorities believe that after this video was recorded, Elisa gained access to the water tank and drowned.

The rooftop area of the hotel is protected by an alarm and considerably difficult for someone to gain access to, let alone climb inside and close the lid. Even weirder is that an autopsy of Elisa’s body found no drugs or alcohol in her system at all.

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While you're in L.A. and if you're on an American Horror Story kick, head over to the "Murder House" from season 1 (AKA The Alfred Rosenheim Mansion).

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Photo of Alfred Rosenheim Mansion

1120 Westchester Place, Los Angeles, CA, US

Alfred Rosenheim Mansion

The house is actually a super popular filming location, beginning way back with Charlie Chaplin’s silent movies and then the inevitable talkies. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dexter, Six Feet Under, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Angel, and loads more TV shows filmed episodes at this iconic location. It’s also a photographer’s paradise, used by Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, David LaChapelle, Mario Testino and Terry Richardson, among many others.

In recent years the Cecil Hotel has become a hot spot for paranormal enthusiasts (both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures have featured the building on TV) who believe the building is haunted by the spirits of the countless people who have met their end in the building. In the year since her death, no further information is known about Elisa Lam’s demise.

The Cecil Hotel recently tried to rid itself of its dark and gory past by changing its name to the Stay on Main, but unfortunately no name chance is going to wash away the blood-soaked past of one of America’s most cursed and haunted hotels. If you’re thinking about spending the night you might want to bring some holy water, and hope that you make it through the night.