From The Shining to Psycho, many of the most iconic horror films of all time are based in hotels – and for good reason. Hundreds of people have stayed there over the decades, and each room has its own history and charm. Of course, sometimes the hauntings are a bit closer to home, such as the Benson Hotel.
As one of the most iconic hotels in Portland, the Benson Hotel has hosted thousands of guests since opening in 1913 – including plenty of public figures and every U.S president since Taft. However, the most notable resident is Simon Benson, the hotel’s former owner whose ghost has been seen haunting the halls since his death in 1942.
Numerous sightings of Benson have been reported by guests and staff, with his apparition regularly being spotted descending down the grand staircase in a formal suit. He is also seen by management during meetings in the conference rooms, simply standing there and observing. Benson even likes to cause a bit of mischief with the guests, knocking over their alcoholic beverages in the main lobby. He was never much of a drinker in life, and apparently even less so in death. As the Benson Hotel was his dream come to fruition – he acquired and remodeled it in the early 1900’s – it’s no surprise that he isn’t quite ready to say goodbye to his legacy.
The Benson Hotel is also reportedly haunted by several other friendly spirits, one of the most famous being a little boy. While it’s unclear who this boy is, there have been theories that he is one of Benson’s sons, or a guest who passed away on the premises. Frequently seen on the 9th floor, this little boy is always looking for a playmate.
The most famous encounter with this boy came from a female guest who awoke to see him standing beside her bedside table. As a mother of a toddler herself, her first instinct was “to put him back into bed.” However, when she went to touch his arm, which felt solid for a moment, he jumped towards her while making a silly expression, trying to frighten her. The woman momentarily lifted the covers up over her head, thinking he was trying to play. He then jumped into her face again, before completely vanishing. Similar reports have been made by other guests, seeing a little boy who is trying to get their attention in harmless ways. As the little boy is said to love sweets, the hotel management will occasionally leave candy and toys out for him, hoping he’ll come out and say hello.
The hotel is also home to several other spirits, as evidenced by the guest book dedicated to spooky encounters. The apparition of a woman in a turquoise dress and red rings has been seen as a reflection in the mirror of the lobby, while a woman in white has made appearances in the hallways. Truly, do you really have a haunted place on your hands without a lady in white?
When an establishment is over a hundred years old, you’re bound to have a few spirits. The most interesting part of the Benson Hotel, however, is that it’s plagued less by tragedy and more by good ghosts. Benson harmlessly roams the halls to check that his legacy is running smoothly, while guests have reported that they felt no fear or bad vibes from the other spirits. In fact, one instance reports a disabled guest who was struggling to get into bed, when a porter arrived to give them a hand, before vanishing instantly. The employees at the Benson Hotel dedicate their lives to hospitality, and apparently the afterlife too!
“Happy haunts materialize, and begin to vocalize!” It’s an iconic line from “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” commonly heard on The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney theme parks, but it could also be the slogan of the Benson Hotel! Not only is it one of the most gorgeous hotels in Portland, it’s also a prime spot for your first paranormal encounter. The 7th, 9th, and 12th floors are reported to have the most paranormal activity, are you brave enough to stay there?
I am a lifelong pop culture junkie with immense passion for all forms of art and entertainment. On a typical weekend, I can be found at a concert or musical, chasing ghosts on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or watching way too many makeup tutorials on YouTube.