Hotel Majestic – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

San Francisco, California

Hotel Majestic

San Francisco's oldest operating hotel, with a Victorian atmosphere and a "haunted" fourth floor. 

The Hotel Majestic is charming, elegant and is San Francisco’s oldest continuously operating hotel. It also has another attribute: the fourth floor is said by many guests, and the hotel itself, to be haunted.

It is somewhat shocking the hotel is even still standing. Built in 1902 on the estate of California State Legislature member Milton Schmidt, and when Senator Schmidt moved in 1904, the building officially became the Hotel Majestic. Amazingly it managed to avoid damage from the 1906 Great Earthquake, the fires stopping only two blocks away from the hotel.

The ghost said to walk the hallways of the fourth floor is that of a young woman. Long term residents of this Pacific Heights neighborhood believe it to be the daughter of the first owner Schmidt, who refused to leave the building after it was sold. The portrait of the young woman said to haunt the halls hangs downstairs in the lobby. 

There are many personal stories regarding the supposedly haunted fourth floor. Common experiences include the bathtubs (the majority of which sport clawed, brass feet) mysteriously filling with water, the sound of footsteps and keys clanging along the walls outside, faucets turning on and waking guests in the middle of the night, and strange dreams or nightmares. Skeptics point out that nearly all the phenomena can be explained by old plumbing and changes in water pressure.

Nonetheless, the joy of a good ghost story is hard to deny. The “Sweet November” production manager stayed in the Hotel Majestic during filming of the movie, and reportedly told one of the desk clerks that she felt her bed shaking in the night, thinking there was an earthquake-there wasn’t.

A clerk who was delivering pillows to room 408, adjacent to room 407 which is often considered the ‘most haunted’ room, was frightened by a more uncommon event. When the woman walked in to set down the pillows, she felt two hands on her shoulders pushing her back. The hotel and many guests claim the haunting to be friendly, if cheeky and playful. Surviving over a century, the Hotel Majestic has been surrounded by change over the years. It has, however, kept close to its original architecture, and the rooms reflect both turn of the century design as well as strong Victorian accents and an Edwardian styling. English and French antiques, old fashioned clawed-foot bathtubs, fireplaces, double sinks, bay windows, and Victorian furniture adorn three kinds of rooms: Standard Queen, Junior Suites, and One Bedroom Suites. Panel drapery and four poster beds preserve the romantic and from-the-past atmosphere.