The state of Texas is full of haunted buildings that all have fascinating histories and opportunities for ghost spottings. Down off the Gulf of Mexico on Galveston Island resides the historic Hotel Galvez. Though it has now transformed into the Hotel Galvez & Spa, it celebrates it's haunted history as the "Queen of the Gulf" and even makes it part of the experience for their guests.
Opening in 1911, the hotel was named for Spanish hero Bernardo Vicente de Gálvez y Madrid, 1st Viscount of Galveston. After Galveston was devastated by a hurricane in 1900, the town wanted to draw tourists back and what better way to do that than with a fancy new hotel? The construction cost $1 million and was based off of mission and Spanish revival styles.
During WWII, the hotel was occupied by the US Coast Guard, and no rooms were rented out to visitors. But after the war, gambling was booming in town and drew in a lot of business for the Galvez. Unfortunately to the point where the Texas Rangers had to shut it down by the mid-1950s.
Making a comeback in 1965, a few renovations and owners later and the hotel became a Marriot franchise by 1989. Luckily, George P Mitchell purchased the Galvez in 1995 and restored it to its original 1911 charm.
Over the years the hotel drew famous names and became known as "The Playground of the Southwest" for the wealthy. Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughs, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt all stayed at Hotel Galvez. Many suites are even named for famous past guests. Now the historic hotel on Seawall Boulevard has become a Wyndham Grand Hotel full of incredible amenities like hot tubs, pool cabanas, flat-screen TVs, and valet parking.
With a full history, it's no wonder many believe that Hotel Galvez is haunted. History Hall located onsite is full of collectibles and allows guests to take a 25-minute audio tour and 25-minute ghost tour about the history of the hotel all on an app. Of course, they have free wifi as well.
The guest room 501 is the most well-known haunted room. As the story goes, the fiancé of a seaman named Audra was staying in this room when she received news that his ship had sunk, so she decided to take her own life. She now haunts the halls of the hotel and people can swear she makes appearances during the monthly Ghost tours. The hotel also offers a dinner tour and regular abbreviated ghost tours for hotel guests every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 2 p.m. These are $15/person.
If you're in the area but not staying at the hotel, don't worry. History tours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m are open to the public for $10/person. These are complimentary for hotel guests, though. Bobby Lee Hilton or Mr. Bobby as he's best-known, works at the Galvez and knows all about the hotel's history. He offers a History Tour and Lunch with Bobby on Thursdays at 11 a.m. for $34/person.
So next time you're down by the Texas Gulf Coast, or even Houston (it's literally an hour away) stop by Hotel Galvez. Grab some brunch at the Galvez Bar & Grill, hit up the spa, enjoy a poolside drink at their outdoor pool (all the beachfront vibes with a seasonal swim-up bar) and even hit up the fitness center but the ghost tour is a must. Did I mention it's walking distance from the beach and the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier?
If you dare, stay in room 501. Maybe in addition to the sounds of the air conditioning, your coffee maker or hair dryer, you can hear Audra while you wait for your room service. If you want the room, make sure to request it with the concierge when you check-in at the front desk. You'll get to enjoy the gulf view that Audra looked out over waiting for her love's ship to return.
Just driving up to the incredible Galveston hotel at 2024 Seawall Blvd, you can tell that there is a lot of history behind those walls.