Is Shanley Hotel Haunted?

Shanley Hotel

This upstate NY hotel is claimed to be so haunted visitors need to sign waivers to stay a night

Paranormal Activity at
the Shanley Hotel

  • The apparition of Beatrice Shanley has been seen by guests
  • Odd smells of floral perfume are encountered without cause
  • Smells of cooking have been encountered when no one is in the kitchen
  • Sounds of children laughing and playing come from empty rooms
  • Spirits have been known to touch and grab people in certain rooms
  • A ghost cat has been seen and heard around the hotel
  • Ghostly whistles are frequently heard

Shanley Hotel: A Historic New York Inn

While the most noticeable features in Napanoch, New York might be the small local airport or the large state prison complex nearby, one hotel in this little village has made a national name for itself through its paranormal claims.

The Shanley Hotel, not to be confused with the infamous Stanley Hotel, might not look like your average Holiday Inn, with chipped siding, uneven porch roofing, and that unmistakable Amityville Horror shape to it, but it has earned a unique reputation in recent years for fostering and promoting its haunted legends like no other hotel in New York.

The Shanley Hotel has become a paranormal hotspot and one of the main attractions in the small town of Napanoch, New York

While some hotels may shy away from ghost stories, the Shanley Hotel puts them front-and-center. Whether it’s the ghost on their sign or the stained glass ‘The Spirits are Inn’ transom window, guests at the Shanley know they’re in for a positively haunting experience when they step through the front door.

But, where exactly did these haunted tales come from, and what keeps so many people coming back to the Shanley to experience them?

Timeline of Shanley Hotel's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Shanley Hotel through the years

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In 1845, the first hotel on the future site of the Shanley Hotel was opened by Thomas Ritch. Named Ritch’s Hotel, the small inn was meant to serve travelers from New York City. Napanoch’s sleepy, creek-side hamlet proved a perfect getaway for many. Ritch sold the successful hotel just six years later to an investor named Hungerford, who renamed it Hungerford’s Hotel.

Most things remained the same after the change, and the hotel stayed in high demand. The hotel opened a gentlemen’s club in this time, helping to draw crowds from the city. 

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Over the following years, owners changed several times despite services remaining mostly the same. In 1887, Adolph Wagner bought the hotel. While Wagner may have hoped for steady income from the inn, his investment would soon hit a wall. On March 18, 1895, a home in Napanoch caught fire, and soon a huge swathe of the town was up in flames.

By the time the smoke cleared, Wagner’s hotel was a pile of ash. But, he was not about to chalk it up as a loss, and swiftly rebuilt the inn. This version is the structure that still stands today.

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In the early 1900s, a new businessman set his sights on the Napanoch hotel: James Shanley. An Irish immigrant who had already found success in the hotel and restaurant business, Shanley saw a lot of potential for the hotel, purchasing it in October of 1906.

Aside from updating the name to the Shanley Hotel, Mr. Shanley added recreation rooms including a bowling alley, a billiard hall, and a barbershop. His business success was later met with similar personal success when he married Beatrice Rowley in the hotel in April 1910. 

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The Shanley Hotel went on to greet famous names from around New York, including Eleanor Roosevelt. Beatrice became good friends with the future First Lady after Eleanor’s first stay at the Shanley, and Mrs. Roosevelt made frequent returns to the inn. Along with making friends, James and Beatrice also worked hard to grow their family. They had their first child, Kathleen, in January of 1912.

Unfortunately, she only lived for six months. The couple would try for children two more times – both ending in tragic deaths less than a year after birth. 

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Helping the couple deal with their losses was Beatrice’s sister, Esther, and her husband. The sisters remained close through the 1910s despite the busy hotel business. But, tragedy would soon separate the two of them as it had Beatrice and her children.

Esther died suddenly in 1918, a victim of the devastating flu pandemic. The loss of her sister left Beatrice in a long-term depression as she helped raise her sister’s two young children in the aftermath of the loss. 

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Little time passed between these numerous tragedies and a new complication for the Shanley’s hotel business: Prohibition. While alcohol wasn’t a major service promoted by the hotel, Prohibition still threatened James and Beatrice’s business and necessitated a change in practice to keep guests coming. They converted the gentlemen’s club into a full bordello.

Not long after, alcohol found its way in and the bordello became a speakeasy. This worked for a while, but a raid in early 1932 brought an end to the hotel’s days as an underground pub. 

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The Shanley Hotel stayed busy through the Great Depression, but tragedy struck again before the end of the 1930s. James died in 1937 after a heart attack. Beatrice, now a widow, sold the hotel shortly after to Al Hazen. Hazen was known as a bit of a drinker and snoozer. His drinking and napping led to long rest periods in a room still known today as the Silent Room, as workers had to move quietly around it to avoid waking him.

Hazen owned the hotel until his death in 1971. The inn changed owners a few times after, finally closing down in 1991. 

Shadowy apparitions have been reported in the Shanley Hotel halls, leading some to believe the wife of the original owner, Beatrice, is still there

Is The Shanley Hotel Haunted?

After over 10 years of abandonment and neglect, Salvatore Nicosia bought the Shanley Hotel and began refurbishing it. Soon into his renovation process, however, Sal noted many strange sounds, sights, and occurrences throughout the old hotel. It seemed the more he rehabbed the place, the more active the spiritual activity became.

Sal reopened the hotel in 2007 and continued to run it until his death in 2016. All the while, the eerie and unexplained happenings continued. 

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The Shanley: A Paranormal Attraction

After a short closure following owner Sal Nicosia’s death in 2016, the Shanley Hotel was reopened under new management, this time with a slightly extended name: The Haunted Shanley Hotel.

Needless to say, the ghost stories around the hotel grew exponentially as the years went by, and the haunts are the main attraction now, still drawing crowds from far and wide to the little town of Napanoch.

A ghost cat by the name Sweet Thing is said to linger in the haunted hotel, comforting and scaring guests in kind

The Spiritual Sisters

Several spirits are said to reside in the old hotel, and they’re known to produce a wide array of paranormal activity. The spirit of Beatrice Shanley has been reported by guests, who often say they feel a wave of immense sadness when she’s around, likely due to her broken heart over her lost children and sister. Others have spotted her shadow figure wandering the halls, often wearing mourning dresses. Her apparition is sometimes accompanied by a telling smell of floral perfume.

Interestingly, others have reported the presence of Esther, Beatrice’s sister, appearing around the hotel’s second floor as well. Perhaps the sisters are making up for lost time in the afterlife, caring for the hotel together forever. 

Haunted dolls have been collected by the hotel

The Hotel’s Ghostly Little Girl

Other paranormal activity includes a small child spirit that has been heard and seen around the hotel. Some believe this spirit is a remnant of a historic hotel tragedy.

In the early 1900s, the hotel barber, Peter Greger, had a daughter who took a fatal fall down a town well. Greger left the hotel in grief not long after. But it is said the ghost of his daughter still roams the hotel, making noise and playing games.

Investigators of the Shanley Hotel in New York have reported shocking paranormal evidence

Frank The Phantom Bouncer

Phantom whistling is frequently reported by guests of the hotel, seeming to come from nowhere and everywhere simultaneously.

Some figure this is the ghost of Frank, a former bordello bouncer. The spirit of Frank is also said to reach out and touch guests, and some report his spirit trying to strangle them, albeit jokingly or playfully.

The Spirit of Sweet Thing

A ghost cat, nicknamed Sweet Thing, has been spotted and heard meowing many times by guests and workers.  Others have reported being awakened at night by the sound of cat scratching on the windows. But they find the windows and hallways feline-free.

The sounds of heavy, mysterious footsteps are also known to awaken people during the night, always when no one is out walking around.

Additionally, aromas of cooking food are known to waft through the hotel even when no food is being cooked anywhere in the building.

Want to Stay at the Shanley Hotel?

The hauntings at the Shanley Hotel have attracted attention from far-off places in recent years. The hotel has been featured on Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab and Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, and has been the focus of numerous news stories and articles about upstate New York haunts.

Today, the hotel relies heavily on ghost tours and hunts to bring in guests.

Is this New York hotel haunted?

Booking a room at the Shanley seems to include a night of public ghost hunting with the room price, and interested groups of ghost hunters can book the entire hotel for themselves if they choose to.

Regardless of what you think of ghosts, the stories and legends continue to attract enough interest to keep this historical hotel open and bustling. Similar to the way James Shanley used spirits to keep his hotel running during Prohibition, the new owners use a different kind of spirit to keep travelers interested in the little town of Napanoch and its one-of-a-kind hotel.