The historic Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans remains an elegant landmark, home to the Carousel Bar and its literary heritage and fine dining at Criollo restaurant.
And then there are the ghosts.
There are many spirits refusing to check out of the Monteleone, including former employees, jilted lovers and children.
Maurice Begere was on vacation to New Orleans with his parents, Josephine and Jacques, and an au pair, staying in Room 1462 in the late 19th century. The family wanted to take in the show at the French Opera House on Bourbon Street but young Maurice stayed behind to nurse a head cold. On the way back to the hotel, the horse bolted and Jacques Begeres was killed after being thrown from the carriage. Josephine died a year later.
I’ve heard two tales, that both parents died leaving the boy an orphan and that Josephine lived only to die from grief a year later. The first story maintains that Maurice’s sickness developed into scarlet fever with the young boy dying at the Monteleone, forever haunting Room 1462. The later has him searching the hotel for his parents.
Remember how your parents told you not to jump on the bed? A young boy in the 1960s ignored his parents’ warning while staying on the 14th floor. He fell off the side of the bed and went through the window, being killed instantly on Royal Street below. There are people who swear the young boy still resides on the 14th floor, heard playing in the hallway with other children. Perhaps he and Maurice enjoy taunting guests together.
Andrea Thornton was in charge of the hotel’s sales and marketing when I talked to her for a story on the hotel in 2009 for the Lafayette Advertiser newspaper. She recounted comments left behind by guests. “We got a few comment cards that ‘Everything was great, including the ghosts,’” Thornton told me.
Room 1467 attracts the brave since it’s said to house five spirits. Several psychics have visited the room and one of them passed out on the bed, Thornton said. The psychics also felt strong energy on the roof, where one of the guests in Room 1467 allegedly jumped to her death. A psychic claimed to have seen a woman dressed in a formal black and white gown, like a cotillion ball gown, and believed she had been engaged to be married.
Thornton also related that the visiting psychics felt strong energy in the café, which is now the Criollo restaurant, and in the part of the hotel that was once a neighboring building called the Hotel Victor. Psychics picked up soldiers and nurses in the former Hotel Victor once used as a Civil War hospital for Union soldiers.
The International Society of Paranormal Research visited the Monteleone and found several spirits lingering — and we’re not talking the excellent cocktails in the Carousel Bar. Two men remain, including “Red,” a former hotel engineer who worked in the boiler room below the restaurant, and William Wilderner, a former guest of the hotel.
All spirits at the Hotel Monteleone are friendly, claim owners, more mischievous than scary.
“As far as seeing things, it’s the little children,” Thornton had told me in 2009. “Not so much people as things moved around, misplaced.”
Click here for an account of a guest’s haunted experience at The Monteleone.
If you want to get in the spirit of things, pun intended, Criollo Restaurant is offering a “The Legend Of The Rou-Ga-Roux” spirited dinner this month. Want to know who the Rou-Ga-Roux is (and that's not the correct spelling)? Check back here next week.
Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is the author of "Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History," "Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana" and "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" and co-author of "Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets." She also writes Louisiana romances under Cherie Claire, including "A Cajun Dream" and "The Letter." Write her at email@example.com.