The Beautiful Stranger of the Hotel del Coronado

1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 921118

Who was the woman in room 302?

What was once thought to be an opportunistic investment for a developing family became a vacant monument to tragedy and death.

Yet, the death of a young woman over a century ago has left a dark mark on its white beaches. Is this the tragedy of a woman who lost her way? Or is something else hidden beneath the surface?

Did You Know?

  • While staying at the resort, Kate Morgan went by Lottie A. Bernard.
  • Some believe that Kate Morgan was actually murdered.
  • The Hotel del Coronado was featured in the film Some Like It Hot.

The Beautiful Stranger of Room 302

Many believe that Kate Morgan’s ghost still resides in her old room in the Hotel del Coronado.

Guests staying in room 302 have reported all sorts of paranormal phenomena. There have been reports of flickering lights, the television turning on and off by itself, and unexplained changes in temperature.

Some even claim they’ve gotten a sudden whiff of perfume, and that strange sounds kept them up at night.

In this room, it’s also not uncommon for items to move on their own, for doors to open and close, and for people to hear strange footsteps and disembodied voices.

One person even claims that he saw Kate Morgan’s face on the television screen. This restless spirit is definitely not letting anyone get some shut eye.

But the important question is. Who exactly is Kate Morgan?

The Jewel of the Crowned City

The Hotel del Coronado was the brainchild of Elisha Babcock and H. L. Story. They wanted to create a first-class seaside resort in the rapidly developing town of San Diego.

In 1886, for $110,000, Babcock and Story bought land lots, built a power plant, and set up water pipes for their grand resort. The actual building would require a million more dollars to be built and a year to do it.

Cave Entrace

As construction went underway, San Diego went through an economic downturn.

The dream was becoming a nightmare. But thanks to the funding from John Spreckels the hotel could be completed. Story and Babcock made Spreckels sole owner with Babcock as manager.

Lottie A. Bernard’s Last Week on Earth

In November of 1892, a young woman checked into the Hotel del Coronado, room 302, as Lottie A. Bernard. She had only one suitcase and was traveling alone.

After she arrived, she befriended a bellboy and stated she was in bad health and waiting for her brother.

On the second day, she told the manager that she’d been separated from her brother at the station and that he had the tags to claim her luggage. She asked repeatedly if he had checked in.

On the third day, she went to the drug store to buy medicine for her stomach pains. She informed the pharmacists that her brother was a doctor and that he would be joining her soon.

On the fourth day, she was hardly seen at all.

On the fifth day, she took a trip to town to purchase a pistol as a Christmas present. Returning to the hotel, she inquired about her brother once again.

He still hadn’t arrived.

Cave Entrace

Lottie A. Bernard then went back upstairs and shot herself on the exterior stairs that lead to the beach.

Her body was discovered the next morning.

Breaking News From California

News articles began running rampant with the stories of the “Beautiful Stranger” as they called her. Information was limited, consisting of only what the coroner had reported and what eye witnesses had seen.

Both did little to give the papers and readers concrete answers of who she was and why she took her life. It was then that the media decided to weave their own tales of the mysterious Lottie A. Bernard.

The reports started out as Lottie being a smart, beautiful woman with stomach cancer who tragically took her own life. Other reports expanded the core idea, saying that the “brother” was actually a lover who deserted her and the stomach pains was due to her being pregnant and possibly attempting a miscarriage.

The sweet, tragic woman had now been warped into being broken and dejected.

More false reports came flooding in. Word was that she was traveling with a man by train and they were having a heated argument.

A woman by the name of Elizabeth Wyllie claimed that Lottie A. Bernard was actually her daughter Lizzie Wyllie. She had been fired from her book binding job in Detroit and ran off with a married man named John Longfield.

In truth, the real Lizzie Wyllie was in Toronto, Canada, and John Longfield was in Cleveland.

With all the stories and accusations being thrown in the papers, the question still remains. Who was Lottie A. Bernard?

The Truth and Lies of Kate Morgan

Lottie A. Bernard was successfully, and finally, identified as Kate Morgan. She was a servant for a family in Los Angeles, going by the name of Josie Brown. She said that she was married to a gambler named Tom Morgan.

So, now the newspaper story was that Tom and Kate Morgan scammed people out of money, pretending to be siblings. While on the train to San Diego, they had a spat. He left her with no money or luggage, while pregnant.

Kate induced a miscarriage and checked into the Hotel del Coronado. Realizing that her husband wasn’t coming, she purchased a pistol and took her own life.

But this is what really happened...

Tom and Kate Morgan lived in Iowa and she had just given birth to their first born son, Thomas. The infant only lived for a few days. Kate fled Iowa with Tom’s step brother not long after.

The veil of lies had finally been uncovered. The Beautiful Stranger doesn’t seem so beautiful now.

Whether she was actually fighting with someone on the train and whether that was the step brother still remains a mystery. But at least we know how the story ends.

Other Beautiful Stranger Theories

Even today, stories are still being made up about what “truly” happened to Kate Morgan.

Some believe that she and Lizzie Wyllie were planning on blackmailing John Spreckels and that Kate was murdered by his cohorts. They also believe that Babcock covered up the whole thing.

Cave Entrace

The Hotel del Coronado Today

The Hotel del Coronado is still active and bringing in people from all over.

It has become a vacation hot spot for politicians, celebrities, and even families to take in the beaches and sites of the Crowned City. The resort itself was heavily featured in the Marilyn Monroe classic Some Like it Hot.

Know Before You Go

For more information about the Hotel del Coronado or to book a (potentially) haunted room, please visit their website. Let us know if you happen to spot any specters!

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