The Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn, 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City, and The Elms Hotel & Spa have all found a successful formula by combining fine accommodations with a touch of spooky lore. Learn how you can do a haunted stay at these hotels, plus several more from around the state.

The Elms Hotel & Spa at Excelsior Springs reports having several ghosts who roam the grand hotel.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of The Elms Hotel & Spa

By Lisa Waterman Gray

They manifest as murmurs that beckon from empty parlors, footsteps that approach but never arrive, and shadows that pass through walls. The tantalizing possibility that ghosts are real has long fascinated brave searchers as they navigate the hallways of historic buildings. For hotels and B&Bs across the country, resident ghosts have proven to be good for business.

In Missouri, multiple historic hotels and B&Bs deliver ghostly encounters along with terrific accommodations. A reservation at one of these properties may come with a disembodied voice, a haunting tune from an unseen piano, or an unexpected whiff of cologne. Gracious hosts at these properties promise a warm welcome and plentiful amenities, and if a ghost happens to float by, it will be a thrilling bonus to an already memorable getaway.

Excelsior Springs

Following massive fires in 1898 and 1910, The Elms Hotel & Spa reopened in 1912. No deaths occurred because of the fires, but the stories that pour in from guests indicate the hotel is haunted all the same. The Elms has long attracted rich and famous travelers, including boxer Jack Dempsey, President Harry S. Truman, and the notorious gangster Al Capone, who conducted all-night drinking and gambling parties at The Elms.

Elaborate stone and woodwork, fancy floor tiles, and elegant light fixtures adorn the hotel’s public spaces and restaurant. The classy combination of historic details and modern amenities is present in all 153 deluxe guest rooms and suites.

Photo Courtesy of The Elms Hotel & Spa

Relaxation is a house specialty and is practically guaranteed with luxuries like private jetted tubs, the property’s spacious indoor or outdoor pools, and the treatments available at the 25,000-square-foot spa.

But guests should come prepared for ghostly encounters, too. With more than 120 years of history, it’s no surprise The Elms has been the focus of plenty of paranormal investigations, including a 2013 episode of the television show Ghost Hunters. In fact, guests can book a paranormal tour package, which includes an overnight stay plus two tickets to a nightly paranormal tour.

There has been speculation that one ghostly presence remaining here might have participated in setting one of those early devastating fires. Near the basement lap pool, guests have encountered the spirit of an individual involved in an illegal speakeasy that operated at the hotel during Prohibition.

There’s an apparition of a housekeeper wearing a 1920s-style uniform that appears to guests on the third floor. When people report a tug on their hair or see things thrown across the room, the staff attributes the mischief to a distressed female spirit who is looking for her child. There are unexplained noises too. But guests agree these spirits are harmless.

The Lemp Mansion restaurant features a variety of lunch and dinner offerings and a popular Sunday fried chicken dinner. But even when the dining room appears empty, there may be someone from the past hanging around.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Lemp Mansion

St. Louis

Travelers who book a stay in one of four beautiful suites at the 1860s Lemp Mansion will sleep where beer barons previously slept. After migrating from Eschwege, Germany, to St. Louis in 1838, John Adam Lemp opened a grocery store that also sold lager beer. Two years later, he closed the store and built the city’s first brewery. He died a millionaire in 1862.

John’s son, William J. Lemp, purchased and lived in this three-story mansion while taking the helm of the family’s growing brewing empire. But family tragedy struck in 1901 when William’s favorite son and brew- ery heir, Frederick, died mysteriously. Three years later, William died in a mansion bedroom from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Tragedy continued. Once among the city’s wealthiest heirs, William’s daughter Elsa committed suicide in 1920. William J. Lemp Jr. shot himself after overseeing the brewery’s sale. His son, William Lemp III, died of a heart attack in 1943 at 42 years old. Finally, William Jr.’s brother, Charles, continued to live in the mansion until 1849, when he also killed himself with a gun.

Great wealth couldn’t prevent tragedy for the family of beer barons whose spirits may still inhabit the Lemp Mansion. Their former home now hosts a restaurant, inn, and popular ghost-themed tours and events.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of The Lemp Mansion

Dubbed among the “10 Spookiest Buildings in the World” by CNN Travel, The Lemp Mansion’s paranormal tours are immensely popular. During a New Generation of Ghost Hunting tour, guests will explore the darkened mansion and learn to use a special camera designed to measure the infrared energy of objects and convert them to ghostly images.

The Haunted History Tour is led by Betsy Burnett-Belanger, who has been seen on Ghost Hunters. She shares the history of the Lemp family, mansion, and brewery, then leads a session where she attempts to psychically connect with lingering spirits.

Garden House Bed and Breakfast honors its past through decor that captures the essence of the home’s early days.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Garden House Bed and Breakfast

Kansas City

In the late 1890s, Albert Wells Pettibone built a Queen Anne Victorian home in the river city of Hannibal. Heir to the Hannibal Saw Mill Company and Hannibal Sash and Company, he chose a location along the street once known as Millionaires Row because it was lined with magnificent homes.

Twenty years ago, Christopher Bobek opened Garden House Bed & Breakfast at the former Pettibone home. Located in the historic district of downtown Hannibal and boasting Mississippi River views, Garden House features four rooms with semi-private baths plus two suites with private baths. A wood porch overlooks seasonal gardens, and personalized breakfasts are served in a floral-themed dining room.

This B&B is a stop on the Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour because of the many paranormal encounters that have occurred within its walls. One pair of independent paranormal investigators captured shadows, light anomalies, and even a full figure in photos from the downstairs parlor during their stay. Their fully charged camera also malfunctioned. NBC’s Today Show filmed a documentary on haunted activity at Garden House Bed & Breakfast in October 2006.

There’s a good chance overnight guests will experience a ghostly encounter. After all, NBC listed this property among the top 10 places in the United States to sleep with a ghost.

Strange occurrences are especially likely between 2 AM and 3 AM. Guests have reported seeing ghostly orbs and have heard the unexplained rattling of window blinds, disembodied footsteps, and even quiet conversations on the home’s lower level. They have smelled men’s cologne and seen dresser drawers unexpectedly open and shut. Many visitors have discovered the flatware missing at their breakfast table, which corroborates the owner’s assertion that the dining room is the most active room in the house.

The modernized exterior of 21c Hotel doesn’t give off any haunted vibes.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of 21C Museum Hotel

Before its unveiling as 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City in November 2018, the original Savoy Hotel and Grill already had a history that stretched back to the late 1880s. Now part of a small hotel chain, the boutique property near Kansas City’s popular Power & Light District and River Market neighborhood incorporates a contemporary art museum with rotating exhibits and a chef-driven restaurant.

The Savoy restaurant at 21c has hosted many prominent figures, including President Truman. In fact, his favorite booth still bears a plaque commemorating his multiple visits to the historic dining space. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

A chic makeover transformed the 21c Museum Hotel in Kansas City, but the history and mystery of the building remain intact.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of 21C Museum Hotel

But today’s signature pale blue penguin statues and modern decor don’t erase the hotel’s history, which lingers via ghostly encounters reported by staff and guests. One story tells of a woman named Betsy Ward who lived at the Savoy Hotel in the late 1800s. Her mysterious death in Room 505 has led some people to suspect she committed suicide, while others suspect foul play. 

Either way, there have been reports of doors opening and closing by themselves near Room 505 and showers or sinks that inexplicably turn on and off. Guests have told tales of mysterious footsteps, shadows, music, voices, and the uncomfortable sensation of unseen eyes watching them.

Although ghostly encounters subsided somewhat during the latest renovation, workers found an antique 32-caliber gun sealed inside one wall of Room 505. Was it a coincidence or a clue?

The Historic Morgue in Ozark is decorated with period antiques and oddities that are a nod to the building’s past.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of The Historic Morgue


Located on Church Street, The Historic Morgue opened this year as a paranormal Airbnb destination. The historic ambience is reinforced through polished wood floors, antique furniture, exposed brick, and lofty ceilings from which long drapes hang. More unconventional decor elements include human skulls and an antique leather doctor’s bag.

The building once housed an undertaking and embalming company, as well as a funeral home, a church, and a morgue. Later, it was home to the volunteer-run Christian County Museum for three decades and then sat vacant for a time before current owner Alta Bivens intervened.

It’s difficult to determine exactly when the morgue opened, but the building itself dates back to the 1800s. The historic building transitioned to its new use when Alta purchased the property amid local talk of tearing it down to make room for a parking lot.

Photo Courtesy of The Historic Morgue

Reported paranormal activity in the building includes a hallway motion light that flickers off and on throughout the night. Guests have described unexplained shadows floating through rooms and weird, random sounds. Occasionally, objects seem to move without assistance from a living person.

Although somewhat skeptical herself regarding paranormal activity inside The Historic Morgue, Alta allows guests to borrow paranormal equipment, including a Spirit Box, an EMF (electromagnetic field) detector, and dowsing rods.

Photo Courtesy of Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast

Ste. Genevieve

Built as the brick-faced Meyer Hotel in 1882, this property underwent extensive renovation before proprietors Susan O’Donnell and Patrick Fahey reopened the building in 2017 as Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast. It’s full of bright, airy spaces amid vintage details. The property includes a handicap-accessible room and a pet-friendly room.

The proprietors gave each of the 10 guest rooms and suites its own distinctive design. A blend of old and new, soaring ceilings, and antique furnishings contrast with flat screen TVs and modern linens. Private bathrooms feature eco-friendly toiletries, and there’s complimentary Wi-Fi. Main Street Inn B&B operates in the heart of Ste. Genevieve’s historic district. Founded during the 1700s, Ste. Genevieve is the state’s oldest city. In a town—and building—of this age, it’s no wonder there are unexplained noises coming from the top floor of the Main Street Inn during early morning hours. The sounds are credited to a man who died in the building during the 1890s, and many locals believe he rattles around simply so people will pay attention to him. However disruptive his ruckus may be, his activities are benign.

Each room at the Main Street Inn Bed and Breakfast in Ste. Genevieve features a different design, and all are made for relaxation, even if the upstairs ghost is in a boisterous mood.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast

There are plenty of additional paranormal activities available to visitors to this centuries-old city, including the Sainte Genevieve Ghost Tour. During a walk through downtown, guides tell fascinating tales about past residents and describe the paranormal activity associated with those incidents.


Belvoir Winery and Inn, Liberty

Fertile ground for ghosts, this enormous complex previously housed an Odd Fellows Home, an orphanage, a nursing home, and a hospital. All staff and many visitors to the property have encountered paranormal activity, from the apparition of a brooding elderly man near the old hospital building to disembodied voices of children and adults, and there’s a piano that plays on its own. Others have reported unexplained noises and flickering ights.

The Hobo Hill House, Jefferson City

This large, recently renovated and well-appointed Airbnb property in Jefferson City can comfortably sleep 10 guests. That is, if the resident ghosts will let them sleep. What started out as a dream home for the owners quickly revealed its paranormal side. The family moved out and now offers the home to overnighters who are curious about the eerie goings-on at Hobo Hill. The otherworldly experiences include voices, shadowy figures, faucets turning off and on, and the feeling that some invisible something is lingering nearby. Almost every renter reports some sort of paranormal phenomenon during the stay.

Hotel Muehlebach (building), Kansas City

Initially adjacent to a theater, a portion of the historic Hotel Muehlebach building was closed for four decades before being reopened as part of the Marriott Kansas City Downtown hotel complex. Sometimes seen mingling among the hotel guests is a well-dressed female ghost in a blue gown. Nobody knows if she was an actor or a theater patron. /hotels/mcidt-kansas-city-marriott-downtown

The St. George Hotel, Weston

The charming St. George Hotel was built in 1845 and the reports of hauntings started soon after, during the Civil War era. Today, the hotel that once accommodated steamboat captains and overland travelers is part of the Weston Brewing Company’s collection of businesses that includes O’Malley’s 1832 Irish Pub and American Bowman Restaurant. According to guests, ghostly mischief-makers on the hotel’s third floor have been known to make a bit of noise at night, including footsteps and childlike laughter, and to occasionally move items around.

Read about a haunted walking tour in historic Arrow Rock here.

Find out where to visit spooky spots in Missouri here.

Article originally published in the October 2023 issue of Missouri Life.