Most people are aware of the fact that San Antonio, Texas, has a significant paranormal presence. Founded in 1717, it's one of the top 20 oldest cities in the United States. As the home of the Alamo, there have been countless ghost hunters who have visited the town. In 2013, USA Today even listed one of its hotels as one of the 13 most haunted hotels in the world. Allow me to introduce you to the Emily Morgan Hotel, a hotel so haunted it's not for the faint of heart.
The historic hotel, which has been under the umbrella of Doubletree since 2012, is in the legendary Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the outside, it looks like any other boutique hotel. It's walking distance from the San Antonio River Walk and has the historic Alamo views, depending on the guest room you book. The on-site restaurant has even won awards. But its colorful past makes this San Antonio hotel a paramount of paranormal activity to go with your room service and valet parking.
From 1924-1976, the gothic revival building operated as a Medical Arts Building. It was actually the first doctor's building in the city of San Antonio, so we know it had a morgue as well as a psychiatric wing onsite. It was converted into office space in 1976 and then reopened as the Emily Morgan Hotel in 1984 and is now a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.
Who exactly is Emily Morgan?
Emily Morgan is actually Emily D. West, who was a free woman of color. Though she was originally from Connecticut, she was contracted as a servant to James Morgan to work for a year in Morgan's Point, Texas at the New Washington Association's Hotel as a housekeeper. As the story goes, Emily and some other locals were captured after only being in Texas for a few months by none other than the infamous Mexican General Santa Anna. She was literally a captive in his camp when Texas revolutionaries, led by Sam Houston, won the Battle of San Jacinto.
Legend says Santa Anna called Emily into his tent the morning of the battle, which he did not know was coming. Emily was able to distract him long enough that chaos erupted and the Texans were able to win the battle in 18 minutes. Santa Anna was later found under a tree wearing nothing but his dressing gown and slippers after the battle. (People believed he was trying to flee the scene in shame.)
Though there's no official account of a woman in Santa Anna's tent, the story of Emily made its way from Sam Houston to Englishman William Bollaert. Upon reading Bollaert's writings, many thought that she sounded very similar to the woman in the famous song "The Yellow Rose of Texas." The legend spread throughout the state of Texas. However, there's still debate and confusion over whether the song was actually written about Emily.
The 7th Floor
The most haunted floor in the entire hotel is the seventh. So if you really want to see a ghost, check availability for rooms on this floor. Visitors to the hotel have seen a woman in white, heard phones ringing throughout the night, witnessed televisions and lights turning on unprompted, and even experienced the feeling of being touched. Can you imagine how creepy it would be to innocently doze off in your double bed only to feel an unwelcome presence? The woman in white, also known as the ghost bride, will shriek through the halls. Some guests have been so disturbed they ask to change rooms... in the middle of the night. At this point, the concierge of the hotel is used to it.
The 14th Floor
The twelfth and fourteenth floor (technically the 13th but, you know, superstitions) are also considered haunted. They were the floors used for hospital activity, including surgeries. The fourteenth floor also housed the crematorium...yikes. Guests staying on this floor have reported hearing a noise in the hallway, opening the door, and seeing an entire medical scene in front of them. Like they had just stepped back in time to when the medical center was in full operation. After shutting and reopening the door, the scene vanishes. Try getting a full night's sleep in your king bed after seeing that.
The 12th Floor
The twelfth floor tends to be the floor with the most plumbing issues. Leaking faucets and running bath water will wake up guests in the middle of the night only to shut off as they enter the bathroom. Just the unofficial haunted room amenities to go with your bathrobe and complimentary toiletries. Apparitions of nurses roaming the halls have also been sighted. Possibly the most disturbing is the rumor that the swimming pool is made of the old stainless steel operating tables from the medical center.
Word of advice? Enter the elevators at your own risk. They have a mind of their own. Guests have found themselves stuck for hours and have even been taken all the way down to the basement. That is where the morgue was once located. The front desk has also been known to receive strange phone calls from the phones in empty elevators. Luckily, if you're taken down to the basement, you don't have to get off because the area is only accessible to hotel employees. This is a good thing because it's known for strange voices in the shadows and being filled with the smell of burning flesh.
After all that, are you interested in having a haunted experience at the Emily Morgan San Antonio? Take advantage of happy hour at Oro Restaurant and Bar and take a dip in the heated outdoor pool before settling into your room to see if anything mysterious happens after dark.
This article was originally published in 2019.
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