On July 1, 1927, Hotel Saranac opened its doors for the very first time. It was born as a "true city hotel," a then-modern feat of architectural innovation. Needless to say, a lot has happened since the iconic hotel's early days. Over the last century, Hotel Saranac has seen its fair share of traffic—from the glitzy Gilded Age elite to Winter Olympics crowds to Albert Einstein himself. But like any other grand building that has stood the test of time—some of those visitors never left.
It's no wonder why Hotel Saranac ranks among the Best Haunted Hotels in the country. If you ask the staff about the ghostly guests, they'll answer in earnest with tales of doors shutting, lights flickering, and shadows darting through the halls. "There have definitely been some strange things that have happened here," said one bartender at the Great Hall Bar. "Nearly everyone who works here or is here on a regular basis has a story to tell."
The Great Hall Bar & adjoining Grand Ballroom on the second floor are some of the most historic and painstakingly restored areas in the hotel. Look up at the Great Hall Bar and you'll be met with carefully hand-painted artwork along the wooden ceiling. As a token of the hotel's past, it makes sense that these venues would draw our dearly departed guests through their doors.
"After one particularly rowdy wedding reception, the evening was just winding down with guests at the bar," said another bartender. "For a while, we used to signal last call at 11pm by turning up all of the lights in the Great Hall, but we hadn't done that for quite some time. But at 11pm on the dot that evening...every light in the bar turned on. I wondered if someone may have done it as a joke, but no one owned up to it—and there wasn't anyone near the lighting system at that point in the night. Maybe it was the ghost of a bartender who was ready for us to close up shop after a long night."
"I was helping pack things up in the Grand Ballroom after an event, and had bent down to pick something off the floor," said another hotel staff member. "As I was bent over, I could feel that someone was standing really closely in front of me. I thought a man had walked right up to me. I stood up quickly to tell them to give me some space, but no one was even near me."
There's a chance that either of these encounters could have involved the hotel's most famous ghost in residence: the spirit of Howard Victor "Prof" Littell, who taught at Saranac High School in the 19th century. But usually, he reserves his appearances for the basement, where he'll appear as the most well-dressed being in the room—complete with a top hat and tails.
Other fashionably outfitted ghosts might also be heard wandering the fourth floor, where there's been reports from guests and staff alike of rustling skirts and footsteps. Could these be the spirits of the stylish ladies that once frequented the hotel during the Gilded Age?
"The supernatural activity is mischievous at most," reassured one Hotel Saranac employee. "It's completely harmless."
Regardless, if you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the specters hidden among our halls or hear ghost stories from our staff, our doors are open to you.