San Carlos Hotel

More From Phoenix More From Arizona

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 1928 in very good shape, and 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 Avenue with a side entrance into the lobby on West Van Buren Avenue.

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

To the left of the check-in desk, there is a banquet room. To the right of the sign in desk, 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 heydays 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 a window to West Van Buren Avenue.  Wow! The rooms actually are “the real deal” with  some lovely real antiques, not the common junky modern furniture that often are used in hotels that market themselves as “historic.”

There were little embellishments that one doesn’t see too often, including crown molding around the room, a classic pedestal sink in there bathroom and 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 nearby dining places that serve wonderful food: one next door, and one across the street.



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 considered to be 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 have exploded because in 1879, just five years later, a much bigger schoolhouse was built, a two-story brick structure that had four large rooms and a bell tower as well. In 1893, fourteen years later, even more children needed an education. To meet the needs, the structure was expanded to sixteen rooms.

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 in the downtown Phoenix area. Money to build it fell through, so this grand dream had to wait, though it was not forgotten.

In 1927, mover and shaker Charles Harris, got financing from Dwight B Heard, allowing Harris to purchase the land and to hire 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.

Its grand opening was March 20th, 1928. This gorgeous Italian Renaissance seven-story beauty was considered the-state-of-the-art hotel with all the modern bells and whistles; including air conditioning.  “The old well in the basement was modernized 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 Hotel had their own French Cafe, which became known for its French Onion Soup. What is now the event center, the space off the lobby, was originally 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 social elite, government officials, and many “notables.”  It became a “Meca” for Hollywood stars who were performing at the Orpheum Theatre, or while filming nearby and attracted the big band artists of course.

During World War 2, the 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 it 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 it to a New York City businessman, who had a deep interest in the historical restoration of old buildings, Greg Melikian!

His brother Robert bought into the hotel, becoming a partner in this joint venture. During the 1970s,

gregMelikian and his family started the long process of restoring the hotel to its former glory. The brothers worked together in their joint restoration for forty-six years, and still going.  The second and third generations of the family have vowed to continue on maintaining the San Carlos.

It 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, to help keep it competitive with five-star hotels such as  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 sprit world and our world, make it easier for spirits to visit their favorite earthly place.

The Eldridge Hotel, KS (Room 506 has in it one of the original cornerstones behind one of its walls, which many believe acts as a portal between the spirit world and our world, making it easy for spirits to visit and/or stay).

Harrison House Bed & Breakfast, OH (There is a portal in the closet by the front entrance).

Brumder Mansion, WI (The Brumder Mansion has four portals, making it very popular with spectral residents and guests).

San Carlos Hotel, AZ (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.

Pittsburg Aviary, PA (A prison that was used as a POW Civil War Camp once stood where the aviary now stands. Several Confederate POWs died here and their spirits who bonded to the land enjoy walking through it for free).

Menger Hotel, TX (Soldiers that died on the Alamo battlefield have moved into the Menger Hotel to enjoy a very pleasant afterlife after suffering violent ends).

Rivoli Theatre, IN (The theatre was built on land that was once a farm and had a family cemetry. Guess who moved into the theatre? The spirits of the farm family enthusiastically support the owner, even saving him from falling to his death).

San Carlos Hotel, AZ (The hotel was built on the same ground that the school once stood. Children who died before their time sometimes choose to stay in a place where they enjoyed life. The school was a popular choice. They have moved into the San Carlos).

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.

Jenny’s House, PA (While they were alive, orphans used to temporarily escape the abusive director of their orphanage by visiting a woman named Jenny and her family who lived just across the street. The spirits of these children still stay in Jenny’s house, as she was kind to them).

Stranahan House, FL (Mrs. Stranahan took it upon herself to teach a young Native American girl who would visit her daily. The child died of a heart attack, but her spirit still stays here because she got love and attention).

Shanley Hotel, NY (Several spirits of children who had sudden, unpleasant ends, are residing here because of their pleasant and loving memories of the times that they enjoyed here).

The San Carlos Hotel, AZ (The original well is still in existence and located in the basement where some school boys drowned, trying to retrieve their their ball. Their mischievous spirits reside at the hotel and have fun teasing the living).

When children die, they often look for their parents, and can feel sad.

The Monteleone, New Orleans, LA (The spirit of a little boy who died of yellow fever in the hotel still visits the guests while looking for his parents in a forlorn mood).

Old Faithful Inn, WY (The spirit of a little boy who drowned in the lake nearby, tearfully asks guests where his parent are).

Waverley Plantation House, MS (The spirit of a small girl who died from a fall down the stairs used to look for her mother, and would follow owner Mrs. Snow around, calling her momma. When Mrs. Snow asked her what she could do for her, the little spirit realized that Mrs. Snow wasn’t her mother. She finally went to the light finally).

The San Carlos Hotel, AZ (The spirit of a little girl may have died from one of the many outbreaks of Phoenix flu epidemic when she attended the former school. She cries and wants her mother).

People who enjoyed great fun at a place while alive, sometimes return to remember such places in this world.

National Pastime theatre, IL (After the theatre closes, there are spectral parties like those that were enjoyed during the speakeasy days).

Biltmore Hotel in Miami, FL (On the 13th Floor, known as the penthouse, spectral parties from the speakeasy days still flourish with many partying spirits).

Crystal Ballroom, OR (Spirits of many couples still enjoy coming here to remember, dance and people-watch).

Flanders Hotels, NJ (A female spirit invites herself to all the social events held here, laughing and enjoying herself, perhaps to forget the sorrows she suffered while alive).

San Carlos Hotel, AZ (The roof top area and the Palm Room were the spots for some great parties and fun events).

Spirits find out after killing themselves that suicide doesn’t take away the pain but sometimes adds loneliness to the feelings they were running away from. They may also feel compelled to relive their suicide.

Adolphus Hotel, TX (After her groom got cold feet, and didn’t show up at the hotel, the bride-to-be hung herself in a fit of melancholy. Her spirit regrets this action and misses being with young people).

Hassayampa Hotel, AZ (While on her honeymoon here, her beloved supposedly went out to buy some smokes but never came back. She hung herself but now regrets her actions. Her spirit still waits in the honeymoon suite, and doesn’t like it when the living talk about what she did to herself).

The Baker Hotel, TX (The spirit of a woman who jumped to her death, is stuck reliving her own suicide).

San Carlos Hotel, AZ (There is one confirmed suicide and one where there are questions. On December 9, 2004, an unidentified man jumped to his death from the hotel’s roof. In 1928, actress Leona Jenson supposedly jumped to her death, though there are some doubts. The male spirit may relive his jump, but she doesn’t. She does like to be friendly with the guests so she does miss companionship).

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

T’Freres House & Garconniere, LA (A school teacher accidentally fell down a well or had help with a push. The Catholic Church ruled it a suicide and had her buried outside the Catholic Cemetery).

Hotel Alex Johnson, SD (A woman was pushed out the window by one of her relatives so it would look like a suicide. The police thought it was suicide, but her family knew better).

Carlos Hotel, AZ (It is very possible that Leona had a lot of help falling to her death. It is thought that Leona’s boyfriend, who worked as a bellboy at a competing hotel, Westward Ho, was a real piece of work and abused her, so the possibility is there that either he or his new girlfriend pushed her off the ledge. As you can read below, I think you will agree that she doesn’t act like someone who killed herself.

People who have been murdered sometimes go on enjoying their favorite place and try not think about how they died.

Kahler Grand Hotel – Helen Vorhees, MN (Helen was beaten to death by mafia thugs because she was going to turn turn them in for their race horse fraud activity. Her spirit resides at a hotel she loved).

Wabasha Caves, MN (Three mobsters were enjoying themselves by playing cards in the side room when they were murdered by a hired killer from a rival gang.

Their spirits are spending the afterlife in their favorite place, even going to social events).

Brumder Mansion, WI (The spirits of the speakeasy crew as well as the house manager for Sam Pick continue working at Brumder Mansion Bed and Breakfast by finding new ways to be helpful, despite being shot to death when the Chicago mob closed down the speakeasy that was here. They all had great memories working at the Brumder).

Carlos Hotel, AZ (The spirit of Leona now resides in her favorite hotel, walking around the floors and being hospitable to the guests who stay here, perhaps forgetting how she met her end, being pushed off the ledge. As you can read below, I think you will agree that she doesn’t act like someone who killed herself.




Spirit of a Girl

She is a school-aged girl, about six to nine years old.

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

Misses her parents.

The Spirits of Three School Boys 

Are still playing in the basement by the well.

They also run all over the hotel.

As spirits they are now allowed to be full-scale rascals.

When The Hotel San 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.

She finds peace here as she resides in her afterlife.

Other Spectral Guests

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

The living must hear the noise of a great party going on there.

Shadows and apparitions may be spotted as well.

Spirit of Male

The spirit who jumped off the roof is not a happy soul.

He wanders the hotel.

He feels compelled to relive his suicide.

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 North Central Avenue,
Phoenix, AZ

San Carlos Hotel is located on the corner of West Van Buren Ave and North Central Ave.  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

Our Photos are copyrighted by Tom Carr


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