Press Room

Ghostly Goings-On at the Hotel del Coronado

The venerable Hotel del Coronado, San Diego’s landmark Pacific resort, has been experiencing paranormal activity for as long as anyone can remember — and with good reason. With more than 125 years of history behind her, it’s no surprise that this Victorian masterpiece has had its share of ghostly guests.

Kate Morgan, The Del’s Resident Ghost
Though supernatural stories abound, most have to do with Kate Morgan, a beautiful young woman who checked into the hotel in 1892 — and never checked out. After spending five lonely and lovesick days waiting for a man who never arrived, Kate was found dead on an exterior staircase leading to the beach. Kate had a gunshot wound to her head, which the San Diego County Coroner later determined was self-inflicted (some skepticism still surrounds this finding).

Today, Kate’s spirit seems to have remained at The Del, where she tends to occupy her former guestroom. But her beautiful vision – and ghostly pranks – can be experienced throughout the rambling resort and grounds.

According to Christine Donovan, The Del’s historian and author of the book Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, Kate is a relatively harmless ghost. “She generally limits her activity to fleeting appearances and inexplicable antics,” says Donovan. “Guests in Kate’s room report everything from breezes that come from nowhere to having to deal with a television set that turns on and off by itself.”

But, more dramatic tales have also been told. Such as the time a young couple – away for a romantic Valentine weekend – experienced a string of supernatural occurrences, culminating in their covers being ripped off in the middle of the night by a ghostly apparition.

Kate’s presence isn’t limited to her own guestroom; another room also records a lot of paranormal activity, and Kate has also been seen walking down the hallways, through the garden and along the beach.

Latest Ghost Sightings
One of the most “active” areas of the Hotel del Coronado is the resort’s gift shop, Established 1888. Originally located in the lower lobby level, this specialty store – which showcases the hotel’s vintage history – has a hard time keeping glassware from “flying” off shelves or pictures from falling off walls.

When Established 1888 relocated (now adjoining the lobby), it was thought that the ghostly pranks would cease, but this has not been the case. Instead, the new space is as active as the store’s former residence. Because memorabilia related to Marilyn Monroe’s 1958 hotel filming of Some Like It Hot seems to be the most prone to tumbling, some long-time shop employees speculate that The Del’s resident ghost doesn’t like sharing the spotlight with Hollywood’s biggest star.

Donovan, who keeps files on guests’ paranormal experiences, received this one from a visiting business executive. “At about 2am, I was awakened by exceedingly cold temperatures and the ceiling fan working at high speed. The fan remained on for about 30 seconds and then stopped. Later, I awoke to find that all of the bed pillows had been stacked pyramid style on top of my computer.”

This gentleman took his first paranormal experience in stride: “I learned that ceiling fans have a mind of their own and pillows are best placed on a computer,” ultimately concluding that Kate Morgan “is a great addition to your housekeeping staff.”

Other paranormal encounters are more subtle, for instance, when one visitor heard “soft rustling footsteps go past the bed,” along with a “very strong flower scent which came on fast and then dissipated as quickly as it appeared.”

One of Donovan’s odder stories was recently received from a British psychic who reported a circa-1912 vision involving men “not unlike miners” who were busily engaged in a tunnel near the hotel (there actually is a tunnel that connects the hotel’s remote infrastructure to the hotel itself, but it is not related to mining and was built well before 1912).

Guests also send Donovan mysterious photos taken at the hotel, some of which feature inexplicable transparent “globes” of light, sometimes with multiple patterns that arch across an entire image.

Beautiful Stranger
In October 2002, The Del released a book titled Beautiful Stranger – The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado. Researched and published by the Hotel del Coronado Heritage Department, the book reflects the most accurate report of the legendary story to date. Look for the book in The Del’s Signature Shop or online at