But the actual accommodations are not my thing. They remind me of an expensive hotel I stayed at in New York City that hadn’t been renovated in about 100 years – not that the Del’s rooms haven’t. They’re just… not my thing.
When your "partner in crime" is saying “redrum, redrum” over and over again as you roam the hallways searching for resident ghosts, and you wouldn’t be surprised to see a little boy on Big Wheels turn the corner, you’re either in heaven or it’s time to leave.
We visited Kate Morgan’s room. It was uneventful. I had no feelings of impending doom or negative energy. The Ghost Hunters’ guys had a slightly different experience – a water bottle flew off a table during an interview. Who knows? Maybe she liked us.
After the ghostly run at Hotel Del Coronado, we headed back to our hotel, the Loews Coronado, for an entirely modern experience. But I was to learn why San Diego is one of America’s most haunted cities.
With history running that deep through a city’s veins, inevitably there is talk of paranormal. Even in my Loews Spa, the masseuse was having a moment after hearing about our adventure.
“I just got chills… did you feel that? You know we have a ghost here too…”
The past permeates San Diego. Dive bars house black-and-white pics of local streets circa 1800. Yellowing, centuries-old documents and guest books are found in countless museums and old hotels. History is alive in every nook and cranny.
San Diego was "settled" in the late 1700’s, although I imagine the Mexicans and Native Americans already living here would debate the use of that term. There are American buildings still standing from the early days, and each one seems to house its own ghost.
In Old Town, the earliest settled area, is the Whaley House and Museum – routinely named the most haunted structure in the States - and streetlamps are still lit by fire and oil. Psychics, metalworking stores and Mexican restaurants line the dirt streets. Zoltar, the robotic fortune teller spotlighted in the movie Big, lives in a back alley and tells fortunes for a dollar. He yells at you if you walk by him without giving him money. Across from him, voodoo dolls and spells sell on the cheap. There are even ghosts in the gazebos.
From the famous Gaslamp area downtown to our little Coronado corner, dead people seem to want to have a chat. Or throw water bottles around rooms. Couples, children, old proprietors – they are everywhere, remnants of stories, both lovely and horrific, documented and passed down like all good oral traditions.
My Loews Spa was no different. In the middle of my massage, the masseuse paused – “You know there’s a ghost that lives in the next room.”
Seriously? A "Songs of the Whale" recording is playing in the background. “Next door’s the water room. Water’s a conduit for ghosts."
“Loews was built on a trash dump. The things they left in it go back 200 years. There’s a male ghost here, older guy. We think he left something in the dump and his spirit can’t leave.”
The Loews Spa, lovely and accommodating, has at least one talented masseuse and one very confused desk clerk. And it keeps essential oils in green glass bottles - the same bottles used to keep oils in the 1800s.
Every other spa I’ve been to uses plastic bottles.
The glass is what draws in the ghost.
He removes the tight cork tops and leaves them on the sheet next to the bottle, along with the imprint of a hand. He is not nasty or intimidating. The imprint is like a signature, a mark of existence and a job needing completion.
But only in his room does it happen – the couples’ room with flowing water on the walls.
Loews is a beautiful hotel, modern and classy. But it’s not in central Coronado. It’s a $20 cab ride from the Del. I know this because after the pre-hunt limoncello, we were not driving into town.
The staff is wonderfully warm and helpful and the price is $20-40 less per night than average Coronado rooms. Combine that with phenomenal bay views and beach access and it was perfect for us. I also loved that it had a spa, complete with fluffy white robes and an outdoor fire pit. And, apparently, a friendly apparition.
You need a car to stay there if you don’t want to spend serious cash on cabs. But I had a car. For which I happily paid $30 to park overnight.
Because although a lost romantic soul roams the spa, my room was a haunt-free zone.