The Ghosts of Hotel Monte Vista

monte vista hotel

A phantom bell boy, murdered prostitutes, and a booze-loving criminal are just a few of the ghosts said to haunt the Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, AZ. In fact, John Wayne himself encountered a spirit at the 87-year-old landmark. Here’s the story behind the hotel’s infamous haunting.


Built in 1927, the Monte Vista boasted over 70 rooms and was the tallest building in Flagstaff. The hotel also harbored the city’s most popular speakeasy before the end of Prohibition as well as the only slot machines ever operated within city limits. Celebrity guests throughout the years include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and John Wayne, among others. However, it’s the Monte Vista’s more permanent guests that make the hotel famous among paranormal enthusiasts.

John Wayne and the Phantom Bell Boy

The legend of the phantom bell boy is perhaps Monte Vista’s most famous ghost tale. Legend has it the ghostly boy will knock on doors and call out “room service.” However, when puzzled guests open the door no one is around.

Other guests have seen the bell boy standing outside Room 210, also known as the Zane Grey Suite. According to the hotel’s website, actor John Wayne saw the bell boy ghost during a stay at the Monte Vista. He reportedly felt at ease around the spirit and thought it seemed friendly.

monte_vista_loungeThe Robber That Drank and Died

Another famous legend involves a trio of men who robbed a Flagstaff bank and decided to celebrate at the Monte Vista Lounge. One of the men had been shot in the robbery and bled out in the hotel’s lounge. Now, the robber’s ghost allegedly appears to guests in the form of a hazy mist. Drinks and bar stools also move on their own.

The robbery allegedly occurred in 1970, so it should be easy to verify the robber’s unusual death. However, as far as I know, there is no official record of such an incident.

Ladies of the Night

In the early 1940s, two prostitutes paid a visit to Room 306, also known as the Gary Cooper Suite. Someone killed the women and tossed their bodies out the third-story window. Now, guests staying in Room 306 awake in the night with the eerie sensation of being watched. At times, male guests have trouble breathing and feel an unseen hand covering their mouths or throats.

monte_vista_rocking_chairThe Rocking Chair

According to the hotel’s website, Room 305 is the most active room at Monte Vista. Guests claim to see an old woman sitting near the window in a rocking chair, even when the room is unoccupied. Reports from staff claim the chair rocks on its own and even slides across the room. Legend has it an elderly woman was once a long-term boarder of the room and spent countless hours in the chair. Perhaps she is responsible for the strange events. Unsolved Mysteries featured the rocking chair tale in an episode of their show.

The ghosts listed above aren’t the only spirits said to roam Hotel Monte Vista. Tales of a ghostly child, a baby, a dancing couple, and an odd guest known as the meat man also surround the historic landmark. Read more stories at and let me know what you think.

Update 7/19/14

A reader shared this personal experience at the hotel:

“Just came back from spending the night at the Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff. After we got done checking in, we asked what floor the meat man was on. They told us he was on the second floor, Room 220. So we put all our stuff in our room, Room 305, the rocking chair room, and then headed down to second floor.

We walked around and looked at all the star pics on the doors. We were the only people on the floor at that time. As we started heading down the hallway towards Room 220, we started to notice a meat smell. It was a very distinct sausage smell. The smell only lasted a minute or so, then it was gone.

When we got to 220, we started taking pics of the door. We stood there for a few seconds talking and then headed down the hallway to leave. Just then, a door opened in front of my son. He dodged the door thinking a guest was coming out of the room. However, when he turned to see who was coming out, he saw that it was the door to a janitor closet. We stood there and watched the door to see if anything else was going to happen, and we then saw a dark shadow cross the hallway. My son’s friend started recording on her phone, and when we replayed the recording we heard a man’s voice. It sounded like he spoke right by the speaker on her phone, either saying ‘Help’ or breathing hard. We left the hall soon after that as my son started to fell uncomfortable.”

Has anyone had a strange experience at Hotel Monte Vista or another haunted hotel? Share your story here!

3 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Hotel Monte Vista

  1. Nice! This would be a cool place for a ghost hunting show to do a show on! I’m not a fan of any of the paranormal shows on TV, but there’s some great ones online. Has anyone seen “Ghost Hopping” on YouTube? I like it because they don’t take themselves so seriously but still get really cool evidence. The host was a comic on Last Comic Standing.

    • Hey, this is Marcus from Ghost Hopping. We were just looking around and found your comment. Thank you so much for watching our show and telling people about it. We’re an independent production, so we appreciate when people like what we do. Thanks for watching, you’re awesome!

  2. Stayed there for one night in late June of either ’01 or ’02. When we got to our room, I set my keys down on the small table in the corner. While hanging up clothes, etc., turned around and saw my keys were on the floor. Seemed weird because I put them in the center of the table which appeared to be level. Then, a few minutes later, while my friend was in the bathroom, a towel by the sink that had seemed perfectly centered on the towel bar slipped down and fell to the floor right before my eyes. Put 2 and 2 together and immediately realized there was a discarnate spirit in the room. I laughed and actually told it, “Look, this is our room for the night. We paid money to be here. You are welcome to stay but you must be nice!” Later that evening, after returning from dinner followed by a night cap in the downstairs lounge, went to sleep with the TV on a low volume setting, with remote on the nightstand. In the middle of the night, was awakened by either a channel changing and/or much louder volume than before. Had to have another little friendly chat with our invisible visitor and then no more tricks ensued. Would def stay there again!

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