We've partnered with La Concha Hotel to bring you a Room + Ghost Tour Package in Key West. For more information, please visit their website.
Once a place for pirates and adventures, the railroad industry transformed Key West into the largest and most luxurious city in all of 19th-century Florida. Later, It became a booming vacation spot.
With the turn of the century and the city prospering even still, La Concha Hotel is a beacon of the island’s success. Even to this day, the hotel is the largest structure in the entire city.
Of course, all things great come with a price, and La Concha would end up being plagued with just as much tragedy as it gained glory. There are just as many ghosts in its wake as achievements.
With La Concha being the largest building in Key West, it also has the unfortunate reputation of being a morbidly popular place for suicides.
In the 95 years it's been in operation, more than a dozen people have taken their lives by leaping off the roof of La Concha. Some say their spirits still linger in the hotel. Many patrons report feeling cold spots, hearing voices, and feeling like someone or something was watching them. The most unfortunate have woken to figures standing at the foot of their bed, then disappearing.
There is a particular spirit up in the hotel’s bar known for its love of chardonnay. Legend has it that they’ll often swipe customers’ drinks if they’re not keeping an eye on them.
In the 1980s, there was an unfortunate incident involving a busboy. He was in the midst of cleaning up a massive New Years’ Eve party when he accidentally backed into an open elevator shaft. The shaft was on the fifth floor, and he plummetted to his death.
To this day, the reason for the open elevator remains a mystery.
It’s believed that the bell boy haunts the elevator and the fifth-floor hallways. There have been reports of the elevator stopping on the fifth floor with no one inside – and no input from anyone else
The bell boy’s apparition can be seen wheeling a cart toward the elevator, only to walk through the elevator doors and disappear. Some report hearing cries for help in the elevator late at night, as if his ghost was crying for help in the shaft.
Perhaps the most interesting ghost to inhabit La Concha is that of Ernest Hemingway. Or, at least what people believe to be the ghost of Hemingway.
The prolific writer often stayed at the hotel and always in the same room. That room was being designed as the Hemingway Suite. The suite’s guest reports being woken up in the middle of the night to objects moving and flying independently. Sometimes they even feel their bed being shaken.
They’ve also mentioned the TV, lights, and bathroom faucet turning on by themselves.
It would appear guests have found quite the haunted room in earnest.
With the rise of tourism in Key West towards the turn of the century, Carl Aubuchon took the opportunity to create a sprawling luxurious vacation resort for those looking to relax in paradise.
In 1926, Aubuchon had commissioned the completion of La Concha Hotel, Key West’s first luxurious hotel, with a scenic rooftop bar and decorative marble floors. It was all the flourishes of a luxurious vacation without the hassle of having to own a mansion.
It became the place to be for vacation, attracting such big names like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. Hemingway spent many nights at La Concha, and Williams even finished A Streetcar Named Desire at the hotel, one of the greatest dramatic plays of the 20th century.
Even Harry Truman spent his weekends at La Concha, becoming the second White House during the cold winters.
With the Stock Market crash of 1929, the hotel, like everywhere else in the United States, took a decline. It also didn’t help that a hurricane in 1935 destroyed much of the city and the railroad to get to and from Key West.
It wasn’t until the 1940s, with the completion of the Overseas Highway, that the city and La Concha were able to prosper again.
But although more and more people came to the city, the hotel still dwindled and decayed. The hotel became in such disarray that only the restaurant and rooftop bar was open to the public during the 1980s.
Thankfully, major restorations happened around this time, virtually rebuilding this shell into the paradise that it is today.
The La Concha Hotel is located at 430 Duval Street. Let us know if you spot any specters!