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  • The Grande Colonial Hotel is a historic property in downtown La Jolla, California

    Guests or Ghosts?

Things that go bump in the night

It’s 2:00 AM. The only sounds are the waves crashing down at the cove. The phone rings at the front desk. The staff sees the room number. It’s happening again. The call is from a room they know is empty.

Is the hotel haunted? Yes, no, maybe? It’s been a common rumor around La Jolla for generations. The guests and staff have reported encounters with ghosts in the hallways, stairwells, guest rooms, and kitchen, but no one can know for sure.

While there’s never been an untimely death or a heartsick lover left alone gazing out to sea, waiting for someone who never returns, the hotel certainly has had more than its share of unexplainable, perhaps spooky events. The good news is that all the paranormal sightings have one thing in common– they’re always about people having fun. You be the judge …

There’s a room in the hotel that is particularly private with a secluded entry. It’s been popular with actors appearing in local plays or with people who seek simple privacy and rest. None of the staff can comprehend the reason there are phone calls coming from the room when it’s unoccupied. The calls always come late at night, but invariably no one is on the other end. A hotel employee is always sent to check on the room, but they have never found a guest there and the phone has always been off the hook. An employee claims he once saw a figure hiding behind a curtain, but when he got up the nerve to investigate, the curtain fell flat. The window was closed and locked. Could it be the spirit of Groucho Marx returning for a visit? As a regular guest, he would stay up late and convince the night staff to play along with him when he wanted to be mischievous. As long as this strange phenomenon takes place only when the room is empty, management is happy to accommodate whoever or whatever it is.

Not all the mysteries are of unseen—some involve reported sightings. Late one night a couple dressed in formal attire were seen in a hallway. He was wearing a tuxedo, top hat, white scarf and cane; she was wearing a cream-colored gown. According to a staff member who offered assistance, they turned a corner and just disappeared. There were no unlocked doors, no windows—no way out. One minute they were there, the next they were gone.

Another night a guest reported seeing a soft, glowing presence in her room—it was a young woman with brown hair wearing a light lace dress. She thought the apparition’s name was Abigail.

One morning a young boy reported seeing several small Abraham Lincoln’s jumping around in his room. The hotel staff was summoned, but the boy’s mother insisted they not worry because “strange things happen to them all the time.” Later the boy reported seeing a woman dressed in white, brushing his hair. Maybe it was Abigail. Perhaps the boy had been learning about Presidents and First Ladies in school.

Many of the stories collected over the years involved the kitchen. Stoves are mysteriously turned on and off, cabinets open and closed, and one time two staff members reported seeing a frying pan moving around. Reported of the paranormal were more frequent when the restaurant was being remodeled. Perhaps the ghosts couldn’t find their favorite foods easily, but ever since the restaurant, Nine-Ten, opened a few years ago, there’s been more peace in the kitchen.

There have also been many reports from guests and staff about rooms in the North Annex, above the bakery. To this day people claim they hear loud voices, heavy footsteps, people running down the stairs, and doors swinging open and closed for no reason—all after the bakery has closed. What is now the bakery was once two apartments. In one lived two young women; in the other two young men. Apparently they were well-known for throwing wild parties. Evidently, they enjoyed themselves very much because they are still at it today. The Hotel continues to receive complaints from the guest rooms above the bakery, but the outcome is always the same—the bakery has been empty for hours and is locked for the night.

What or who lurks in the hotel’s hallways and around the corners—we’ll never know. There is only one way to find out–experience our haunted hotel in San Diego La Jolla for yourself!

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Sleep tight!