San Carlos Hotel

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Suicides and perhaps a murder are causes for activity.

Children are mischievous; dead or alive.

Found memories carry over into afterlife.

Missing parents is hard for the young.



The San Carlos Hotel is a historic treasure from the 1928 era in very good shape; still has her oomph!. It is a seven floor rectangular Italian Renaissance beauty that spreads out over both streets. The main entrance is on Central Ave. with a side entrance into the lobby on West Van Buren Avenue.

Tom and I stayed here on our road trip the summer of 2019. Wow! the inside is as historic as the decorative outside. The lobby has a 1928 style decor. The lobby has travertine tile flooring throughout. The lobby still has “its carved plaster crown moldings, Austrian crystal chandeliers, and wall sconces, and a copper-clad elevator doors and moldings.”

carlos-paranormalTo the left of the check-in desk, there is a banquet room. To the right of the sign in desk, there is a lovely vintage lobby. There are two large, glorious mirrors on each side of the walls in the vintage lobby, making feel much bigger.

There is also a showcase window across from the check-in desk, with old articles about the hey days of The San Carlos Hotel.

They don’t hide their known adult female spirit. There she is, her story on the front page of the paper on display in the case.

Our room was on the third floor, with window to W Van Buren Avenue. Wow! The rooms actually are “the real deal”; the room had some lovely real antiques; not the common junky modern furniture that often are used in other real historic hotels.

There were little embellishments that one doesn’t see too often. There is crown molding around the room. The bathroom has a classic pedestal sink, with flowers etched across the bottom of the bathroom mirror. The tub was a real porcelain tub, not the plastic units often used. As you can tell, we really enjoyed our stay.

On the third floor, there is a pool. On the seventh, there is access to the roof top, but not when we were there. It was closed for renovations, or perhaps also to keep ghost hunters out.

The San Carlos Hotel no longer has a restaurant, but there are several places: one next door, and one across the street; that serve wonderful food.



The land upon which The San Carlos Hotel would be built, was an important Indian site where they worshipped the god of learning. The underground stream there was holy. In 1874, the first Phoenix adobe school house was built on this site. A well for water was dug for this school. The population of children must of exploded because in 1879, just 5 years later, there was a need for a much bigger schoolhouse. It was a larger, two story brick structure that had 4 large rooms and a bell tower as well. In 1893, 14 years later, even more children needed an education. So, the structure was expanded to 16 rooms and it was used to educate Phoenix children for 22 years!

By 1916, the school was moved to a new spot where an even bigger building was constructed. The whole block where the 1893 school once stood, was bought in 1919 by the Babbitt family with grand plans for a luxury hotel for the downtown Phoenix area. Money to build it fell through, so this grand dream had to wait though not forgotten.

In 1927, mover and shaker Charles Harris, got financing from Dwight B heard, purchased the land and hired well-known, accomplished architects, G. Witecross & Ritchie from Los Angeles to build a modern, upper-class, gloriously beautiful hotel, to be called The San Carlos Hotel.

It’s grand opening was March 20th, 1928. This gorgeous Italian renaissance seven story hotel, The San Carlos Hotel was considered the-state-of-the-art hotel with all the modern bells and whistles; including air conditioning, using an air conditioning compressor, belt driven; a York model D. “The old well in the basement was modernized to to provide water to pre-cool the air via a pump and evaporator.”

The rooms had steam radiator heat and chilled water running through the water faucet in the sink, though this system was discontinued in 1970.

Above the 7th floor was a penthouse, where the Charles Harris and his family lived for many years.

The San Carlos Hotel had their own French Cafe, know for its French Onion Soup. What is now event center, the space off the lobby, was the cocktail lounge, called The Palm Room.

From the time it opened in 1928, until 1960, The San Carlos Hotel enjoyed the patronage of the socially elite, government officials, many “notables,” as well as becoming a “Meca” for Hollywood stars who were performing at the Orpheum Theatre, or while filming nearby and the big band artists of course.

During World War 2, San Carlos Hotel did its part by housing troops, with the hotel bar known as “Base Operations” because a lot of officers liked to frequent here off base as this bar was the favorite watering hole.

The Harris family owned the San Carlos Hotel until 1967 when it was put back on the real estate market after Charles Harris died.

The first buyer fizzled, so they wound up selling The San Carlos Hotel to a New York City businessman, who had a deep interest in historical restoration of old buildings, Greg Melikian! Robert Melilian his brother bought into the hotel, becoming a partner in this joint venture. During the 1970s, Melikiani and his family started the long process of restoring this historic hotel to its former glory. Brothers Gregory and Robert Melikian worked together in their joint restoration for 46 years, and still going. The second and third generations vow to continue on maintaining this historic hotel.

San Carlos Hotel became a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2003, The San Carlos Hotel got a major facelift with a a $1,000,000 remodel in 2003. This was needed to stay in competition with five-star hotels such as The Phoenician, Arizona Biltmore Hotel the Ritz Carlton, many Hilton Hotels and the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. So far, so good!



Places that have a vortex, an opening between the spirit world and our wold make it easier for spirits to visit their favorite place. The well in the basement connects to the holy water underneath, which is a spirit portal.

Spirits who were haunting a former building, can move into the new building constructed on the same property.

Spirits sometimes like to stay near or in a place where they died from an accident or disease. the spirits of children like to stay where they felt loved, sometimes bonding to the land, or an object. It doesn’t matter if their special place was torn down and something was built there instead.

In the case of The San Carlos Hotel, the original well is still in existence, in the basement where some boys drowned, trying to retrieve their ball. Spirits of children may have moved in! Not only the boys mentioned above, but perhaps other children who loved either of the two school buildings.

When children die, they often look for their parents, and can feel sad. Spirit of a little girl may have died from the Phoenix flu epidemic during the time she attended one of the schools.

People who enjoyed great fun at a place while alive, sometimes return to remember to such places in this world. (The roof top area and the Palm Room were the spot for some great parties and fun events.)

Spirits find out after killing themselves doesn’t take away the pain but sometimes adds loneliness to their feelings that they were running away from. In 1928, actress Leona Jenson supposedly jumped to her death. On December 9, 2004, yet another death happened at this hotel, when an unidentified man jumped to his death from the hotel’s roof.

Spirits who died at the hands of another or from an accident, and listed as a suicide, often are restless, wanting the record to be cleared before they can find peace.

People who have been murdered sometimes go on enjoying their favorite place and not think about how they died. It is thought that Leona’s boyfriend, who worked as a bellboy at competing hotel Westward Ho was a real piece of work and abused her, so the possibility is there that he pushed her off the ledge or his new girlfriend did the evil deed. As you can read below she doesn’t act like someone who killed herself.




Spirit of a school aged girl; 6-9 years old

She visits hotel rooms on the upper floors at night and sits crying there.

The Spirits of 3 School Boys – now allowed to be the rascals full-scale.

Are still playing in the basement by the well. They also run all over the hotel.

When The Hotel Carlos had a restaurant space, the three boy spirits played mischievous pranks on the living there.

Spirit of Leona

She wears a white dress and floats around the upper floors, especially the 7th floor, being partial to room 720.

She likes to visit various rooms with guests and sits sometimes at the end of the bed in a friendly manner.

She doesn’t act like a sorrowful or remorseful spirit, which is typical of people who kill themselves.

Other former spectral guests

Still like to frequent the roof of the building where they enjoyed great parties.

From 2002 to 2012, owners Greg Melikian and Robert Melikian had a ten year partnership with Ghosts of Phoenix, LLC, a paranormal investigation group that led ghost tours of The San Carlos Hotel. The Melikiani brothers cancelled the paranormal events because some guest told them that they were leaving because the place was haunted.

The tours were allowed to go to the paranormal hotspots that were normally closed to the general public and results were documented in hard evidence. The spirit of Leona must of been happy to have visitors. Other spirits as well made an appearance.


A big Yes Indeed!!! The San Carlos Hotel is very popular with spirits as it is with historical hotel lovers.



San Carlos Hotel
202 N. Central Ave,
Phoenix, AZ

San Carlos Hotel is located on the corner of W. Van Buren Ave and N Central Avenue. San Carlos Hotel is only six miles from the Sky Harbor International Airport and easily accessible to all major highways and activities. It is conveniently located near the convention center and other downtown Phoenix please of interest. The area is up and coming with excellent restaurants, entertainment within a short walk.


  • Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. by Rich Newman, Llewellyn Publications, 2010, pg. 19.
  • Haunted Places, The National Directory byDennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 2002, pg. 19

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr


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