The Famous Ghosts of the Hotel Chelsea

The Famous Ghosts of the Hotel Chelsea

Photo: Michael Willems,

"A lot of funky things happen in the Chelsea."
~Janis Joplin
There are many famous ghosts associated with the Hotel Chelsea located in the State of New York. While this hotel is officially referred to as the “Hotel Chelsea”, there are many that refer to it as the “Chelsea Hotel” or simply “the Chelsea”. According to locals, this hotel is considered to be one of the most haunted places in New York. This hotel is considered to be one of the most historic landmarks within the City of New York City and has received a great deal of its overall popularity due to the fact that many famous individuals have resided within the structure. Throughout this article, you will learn about the history of the hotel as well as the famous ghosts that are rumored to be a part of the structure.


In order to appreciate the famous ghosts that are said to be a part of the Hotel Chelsea, it is important to understand a bit about the history of the location. It has been established that the structure was constructed between the years of 1883 and 1884. In the year of 1884, guests were permitted to occupy the rooms of the new establishment. The building consisted of twelve stories and was created using beautiful red bricks. The architecture was a collaboration of the style referred to as “Queen Anne Revival” as well as “Victorian Gothic”. The firm that designed the building was one called “Hubert, Pirsson & Company”. There are many aspects of the New York City hotel that make it quite distinctive. Examples include iron balconies and a magnificent grand staircase that goes all the way up to the twelfth floor.

When the Hotel Chelsea was constructed, it gained popularity as being the single tallest structure in the entire State of New York. Despite this level of popularity, it did not take long for the hotel to experience financial complications and close its doors to guests due to bankruptcy. These financial issues were a direct result of the economic problems of the time and the fact that the local theaters moved to other areas away from the hotel. However, it was reopened for business in the year of 1905 under new ownership. Just a little over a couple of decades later, the hotel experienced bankruptcy a second time. Three individuals elected to purchase the establishment in the year of 1939. Their names were Julius Krauss, David Bard, and Joseph Gross. The new owners retained authority over the building until the early part of the 1970s when all three died and the building was then officially left to a man by the name of Stanley Bard, who was the son of deceased owner, David Bard. This ownership became interrupted in the year 2007 when the other previous owner’s relatives took over and allowed a management firm to take over. However, according to sources, this firm no longer has responsibility over the supposed haunted hotel.

While it is true that there have been many owners that have come and gone throughout the lifetime of the structure, there seems to be a reason for the deceased to stay – even though it is time for them to pass from the physical world to the spiritual world. Many individuals have resided within the popular hotel throughout history – several of them have been quite notable. This type of popularity could be why there are rumored to be so many famous ghosts. It could also be why the hotel is considered to be one of the most haunted places in New York. There are many different famous people that have resided at the Hotel Chelsea. Examples of these individuals include Mark Twain, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Madonna, and several others. The following lists others that have lived at or at least visited this haunted hotel throughout history:

• Janis Joplin
• Alice Cooper
• Patti Smith
• Jimi Hendrix
• Peter Walker
• Sid Vicious
• Robert Crumb
• Jasper Johns
• Charles James
• Ruth Harkness

Hotel Chelsea Deaths and Hauntings

When evaluating the haunted places in New York and several other states, you will find that there is nearly always some type of death that occurs at what paranormal investigators consider to be a “Hot Spot”. The same holds true for the Hotel Chelsea. Many believe that the famous ghosts that haunt the location have a lot to do with the deaths that have occurred in and/or around the establishment. While none of the deaths seem to be related, there definitely seems to be a black cloud lingering above this particular New York City hotel. The individuals that have been gripped by this dark cloud seem to portray it best. At one point, Sid Vicious told the Associated Press that the Chelsea Hotel “…is a vortex – an artistic tornado of death and destruction and love and broken dreams”.

One of the most popular deaths involved a woman by the name of Nancy Spungen. In life, she was the girlfriend of the bassist of the group known as the “Sex Pistols”, Sid Vicious. Nancy left home when she was seventeen years old. She immediately moved to New York City and acquired a job as a stripper. It is said that she enjoyed following certain bands around such as Aerosmith and The Ramones. In the year of 1977, she relocated to London and met the lead singer of the Sex Pistols. Despite the fact that she showed an interest in the lead singer of the band named Johnny Rotten, he did not return the affection. When she realized that he was not interested, she began showing an interest in Sid Vicious. Soon, they developed a relationship and even moved into the same home.

During the relationship, both she and Sid experimented with many different drugs. It was during this time that the Ghosts of the Hotel Chelseapress dubbed her as “Nauseating Nancy” because she would often show signs of verbal and physical abuse in public, without regard for others. The Sex Pistols officially broke apart in the year of 1978 and she and Sid moved to the Hotel Chelsea. It is said that the couple resided in room 100 under different names than they were known for in public. It has been said that the couple continued to delve deeper into drugs and that there were many heated arguments between the two. On the 12th day of October in the year of 1978, Nancy was discovered dead in the bathroom floor of the room at the Hotel Chelsea and Sid was arrested for the murder. He got released and was awaiting trial when he took his last hit of heroin and died. Many believe that some of the famous ghosts at this hotel are that of Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious.

The next death that is considered to be quite popular when it comes to the Hotel Chelsea is that of the poet and writer named Dylan Marlais Thomas that occurred many years earlier than Nancy’s on the 9th day of November in the year of 1953. In October of 1953, Mr. Thomas arrived in the State of New York and according to those around him; he had a wealth of medical problems. Many claim that he had suffered from regular blackouts and even suffered from medical conditions associated with his heart. In addition to these issues, he also had to carry an inhaler because of the fact that he suffered from respiratory conditions. In addition to the medical complications that he suffered from, it was said that he also suffered from alcoholism.

Many individuals claim that Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning, but there was a doctor that visited him several times right before his death. Based on reports from doctors, it was established that he was suffering from bronchitis, pneumonia, and a relatively high white blood cell count. Since his death, he has apparently joined the ranks of the famous ghosts that are said to haunt the Hotel Chelsea. Many people claim that they have seen his face on numerous occasions – especially around the room identified as “206”, where he passed away. There are many famous ghosts associated with this hotel. This is one reason it is considered to be one of the most haunted places in New York. If you have an interest in the paranormal, perhaps you should consider investigating the famous ghosts of the Hotel Chelsea for yourself. You may just find that it is – in fact – a vortex of spirits.Get directions, view photos and read the visitor reviews and traveler tips for the Chelsea Hotel.

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