Tales of the macabre at L.A. hotels


The Lizzie Borden B&B; near Boston isn’t the only lodging with a creepy, notorious past. Here, with an assist from, are several local haunts with histories that are hard to shake:

The Night Stalker’s retreat

The Cecil Hotel, minutes from Staples Center, was a favorite haunt of “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez in the 1980s as well as Austrian journalist and fellow serial killer Jack Unterweger in the 1990s. It was also the site of a 1962 suicide in which a woman leaped to her death and killed a pedestrian. Two years later, Pershing Square “pigeon lady” Goldie Osgood was killed in her room at the Cecil; the case is unsolved. Today, the hotel touts itself as “The Premier Choice of Affordable Downtown Los Angeles Hotels” on its website; rates start at $70. 640 S. Main St., Los Angeles; (800) 896-5294.

Janis Joplin’s last stand

In 1970, the Landmark Motor Hotel hosted many young entertainment hopefuls, often for extended stays. Twenty-seven-year-old Janis Joplin had been a guest for about six weeks before her hard partying came to an end with a heroin overdose on Oct 4.


Now called the Highland Gardens Hotel, the property has a serene retro feel complete with pool and palm trees. Rates start at $119. 7047 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; (800) 404-5472.

Sam Cooke’s violent end

In 1964, Hacienda Hotel manager Bertha Franklin fatally shot singer Sam Cooke, reportedly in self-defense. Inconsistencies in the case and the lack of a full police investigation have left fans wondering.

Today it’s a convenient stop for business travelers who want to be close to LAX, just 10 minutes away. The hotel also features a conference center, and there’s always the chance of being lulled to sleep by Cooke’s soothing voice, or the spirit of it, anyway. Rates start at $119. 525 N. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo; (800) 421-5900.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins