Real Haunted Houses

Real Haunted House

The Cavalier Hotel

Virginia Beach, Virginia
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

Overlooking beautiful North Beach in the bustling city of Virginia Beach, Virginia, this elegant hotel features far more than a stunning view and its dramatic chandelier-hung lobby with glossy checkerboard floors and sharply contrasting paneled walls. This, the original Cavalier Hotel, has ghosts. Elevators run when no one is riding in them, toilets flush of their own accord and guests report that their room towels change color from time to time. But these are only little oddities compared to the tragedies that began only two short years after the Cavalier opened on what was then a rather secluded strip of beach.

Many guests have remarked on architectural similarities between the old hotel and the Overlook hotel featured in the movie “The Shining.” Perhaps it is also the creepy feeling of something always lurking that causes visitors to draw such connections. Guests have reported they feel like they are being watched in both the Pocahontas room and the Hunt Room. Perhaps it is the waiter who supposedly walks through the walls of the Pocahontas room or the lady followed by a ghostly dog crossing the hotel lobby, or perhaps it is merely someone who still broods about the misfortunes of their lost life…

Opening in 1927 (after 13 months of steady labor), the Cavalier was once the haunt of the movers and shakers of society, hosting such guests as Adolph Coors (of the famous brewery), author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and actors and actresses including Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Bette Davis, Betty Grable, Mary Pickford, Ginger Rogers and Jean Harlow. For three decades the Cavalier hired a wide variety of big-name bands. Performers included such greats as Tomy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Glen Miller, Lawrence Welk and Bing Crosby. Now guests report that the piano in the ballroom sometimes plays by itself-maybe wishing for the raucous music of the Twenties.

Nicknamed the “Aristocrat of the Virginia Seashore” the Cavalier was the spot to see and be seen, so it’s no wonder some guests are reluctant to depart. Ten US Presidents have also stayed or spoken at the Cavalier, bringing with them the rumors, speculation and debate that guests, both living and dead, seem to feed on.

During the Roaring Twenties, the Cavalier skirted Prohibition by driving well-to-do guests on discreet trips to the local speakeasies. This evading of the law was not enough to keep brewery owner Adolph Coors from a mysterious fall that ended his death on June 5, 1929. Whether suicide because the brewery was forced to make cement and pottery rather than beer during Prohibition, or murder (as some feel Coors was pushed through a closed window on the hotel’s 6th floor), people have reported sensing someone still lingering and cold spots appearing randomly throughout the 6th floor. Many have even reported the sickening sound of flesh slapping concrete-could it be that Adolph Coors relives his tragic plunge on a regular basis?

Local lore claims that the hotel’s first owner shot himself on the premises, but it seems unsubstantiated as a hotel staff member said the initial owners of the hotel were a group of people investing in a business venture and they held it until the Dixon family purchased it. So, although the rumor can’t be attached to a specific person through my research, perhaps it was one of the original owners or one of the Dixon family members who committed suicide on the property. Or, perhaps (as is the case too often), this is merely a case of rumors evolving and growing.

The hotel’s front desk is occasionally plagued by guests calling to report a cat meowing and scratching at doors in the hotel’s grand hallways, though no living cat has been seen roaming the halls in decades. Rumor has it that a young girl’s pet cat escaped one night and drowned in the swimming pool-the little girl also drowning as she tried to save her precious pet. Though the girl’s ghost has not been sighted and people only occasionally report strange sounds from the pool, perhaps the cat still wanders the halls trying to find his worried young owner.

Visitors report mysterious orbs showing up in their photos and hearing footsteps where no one is seen walking. A popular tale revolves around sightings of an older African American gentleman dressed in the hotel’s old staff uniform. Guests report that he stands on the staircase of the sixth floor and warns people of ghosts ahead. Unfortunately, it seems he himself is a ghost, as there hasn’t been any staff to fit his description working at the hotel in more than a few years.

Today the Cavalier Hotel is truly two distinct hotels: the Cavalier on the Hill (the original and still haunted) and the Cavalier Oceanfront (beautiful and at peace except when tourist season begins).

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231 Comments

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Travlinman01 says:

July 7, 2011, 10:21 pm

I am a frequent business traveler and have recently redeveloped (bad photo pun) my interest in photography after many years. Will go out after work and shoot the interesting sights in the city I am in.

Business brought me to Virginia Beach on a Monday night in early April 2011. I am originally from the area and remember the Cavalier Hotel as being something I have always wanted to photograph and had never visited before. The hotel was still closed for the season, I think they open in May.

I have to admit, it seemed very creepy walking around the building. It was just the old empty building and myself.

I walked around the entire structure from the left and around to the right. The main entrance on the north side of the building was of course dark. You could make out a little of the interior of the lobby, so I pressed my camera lens to the glass and shot two 30 second shots (hand held, no tripod). It felt like I was being watched (hair stand up on the back of your neck feeling) as I shot the photos and figured I was on security tape and was going to be escorted off the property at any time. It was a VERY odd feeling.

Not until returning to my hotel room did I look at the photos. Both of the pictures show something “floating” at the back of the lobby. The first picture was too blurry to process, but it has the same anomaly, but in a slightly different location. Had no idea the hotel had a â??reputationâ?.

Checked the web for photos of the lobby and can’t find anything that looks like that in the photos. The camera lens was flush against the glass. The object in the image could, of course, be some kind of lens flare or reflection. But if that is the case, it sure manifested itself in a strange mannerâ?¦ Thought I would share the photos.

There are four photos in the set. The first is the original unprocessed photo. Second is the full photo, only color corrected. The last two are close cropped to the object. The first close up is color corrected only and the second I cleaned up around the object a bit.

Travlinman0 says:

July 7, 2011, 10:22 pm

Carolyn Paige says:

July 15, 2011, 3:11 pm

This is interesting. I am planning a visit to the Old Cavalier soon, and I am intrigued. I have seen a “ghost” in my school classroom, happening when there were specualations that this very old school would soon be closed. I am a totally lucid, sane and grounded woman,and there is no doubt of the apparition I witnessed. I viewed the above mentioned photos. That is fabulous. I will definitely photograph and share anything that is of interest.I believe I am a ” sensitive” …other interesting expeiences in my own home.

Robyn says:

July 18, 2011, 6:20 pm

Actually after reading this story I believe my boss has a picture of that little girl in the 6th floor window.

kdubbz says:

July 24, 2011, 7:28 pm

I live in Virginia Beach and last night a couple of friends and I went to the Cavalier after hours and went into the basement under the pool with a Ouija Board. we didnt use it for long since we were scared, but my friend and i did and i asked if anyone was with us. The thing we put our hands on (can’t remember a term for it right now) moved very slowly and cautiously writing out yes, when it got to the letter s on the board we heard running over top of our heads from one end to the other. Then another girl and i tried the board and she asked who was there and it slowly went from letter to letter spelling absolutely nothing. When we went back to the pool area one of the showers was on with noone around at all. I took a few pictures in there as well and many “orbs” which could very well be dust im not sure, appeard. In two pictures there was a carolina blue mist near one of my friends. The scariest part of the hotel is the fact that it does have a room numbered 666. we went to the sixth floor and it was freezing but we couldnt get in the room. my friend who has been there before said that on the 7th floor one of the doors to a room was unlocked randomly.. that never happens. Also there are a few doors inside the basement that are locked but my friend broke into it about a month ago and said he instantly heard voices and whispers and an erie feeling telling him not to go any further.

One last thing has nothing to do with the cavelier hotel, but with the ancient Indian burial grounds that were moved to a different location. first landing state park or as i call it seashore state park is extremely haunted. If you go into the hiking trails and take the older route instead of the newer one aound sunset you will see some of the creepyiest things in your life. Whether its the spanish moss or the eerie sounds coming from the swamp and the forest, there is most definitely a spiritual force behind the state park. The swamp is black and tar-like, and the trees are mysterious and creepy. When the forest doesnt want you in there it will let you know

Matt W says:

September 3, 2011, 10:32 pm

I was born and raised in Williamsburg, VA and have lived there for 42 years. I’m ashamed to say I had never heard any of the history, let alone hauntings at the Cavalier hotel. We have just returned from a nights stay at the oceanfront side and have a somewhat interesting account to tell.
Upon arriving At the hotel across the street I immediately commented to my wife how eery the old hotel looked. I googled the name “The Cavalier Hotel” and the first article to come up was the most haunted place in virginia and how Adolph Coors had met his end from the sixth floor window. Later that evening following dinner my wife and I drew straws to see which one would accompany our 11 year old daughter on a ghost hunt and who would stay at our room with our 6 year old little boy. I won(or lost)
Molly and I set out across the street at around 2130 (9:30 pm) and went up the steps to the pool entrance. We had all gone over earlier and found that door to be open. it still was and we stopped to take a photo of the pool to start our investigating. Nothing but the pumps circulating the water. We then proceeded to the lounge with the piano and snapped another photo or two. No music or noises that I noticed, only that one of the piano strings seemed to have broken upon looking inside. after crossing that room I told Molly to snap a picture of the stairway next to the vending machine room. No mysterious figures there. BTW all our photos were with cell phone cameras(my iphone and her flip phone), so I didn’t expect very good quality. we then boarded the elevator bound for the sixth floor. The elevator didn’t stop anywhere but there. I got out and started down the north hallway asking aloud “Adolph, are you here?” and snapping photos, one down each hallway. We both took several pictures of the 660’s hallway and noticed that the door to room 662 was slightly open, but no lights were on. I told my daughter to leave it alone as some people prop their doors open to avoid using their key. As much noise as we were making up there I’m surprised no one came out to tell us to quiet down. Not sure if anyone was even staying on that floor but it didn’t register with me to notify the front desk that the door was open until later. So we peeked down one of the stairwells and decided that was enough flirting with disturbing the spirits that may be there. we then took the elevator back to the lobby and looked at the small museum across from the front desk. I then needed to use the restroom and found it to be downstairs. Creepy enough but I went anyway. After an uneventful visit to the small bathroom I discovered the Hunt Room which I was very impressed with. A deceptively large room with a huge fireplace that reminded me of the movie “The Haunting”. I took a few more photos and figured that it would be a good time to leave as I do get a little uneasy in basements alone. We returned to our room and showed the photos to my wife, saying we hadn’t seen anything to which she replied”you have ghosts on your pictures”. She pointed out one “orb” in my first photo when i was asking if Adolph was there and two more in another down one of the other 6th floor halls. Nothing really showed up in Molly’s pictures. I still remain a little skeptical as to the whole orb thing but they are pretty clear in the pictures and it’s an experience wee will share for a lifetime. Perhaps we can come back with my real camera sometime and take an extended tour.

Anne says:

October 2, 2011, 6:36 pm

Just a comment for Matt W. I know I use to think that anytime I saw “orbs” in pics on my camera rather regular use camera or cell phone can be dust on the lens . I clean my camera reg or other wise b4 I start snapping.

allie says:

October 5, 2011, 11:48 pm

I used to work in the cavalier hotel in the pocohontas room. Never had any experiences. I’ve been all over the hotel and never anything. There are no tunnels under the hotel or random ghost cats. The walls don’t bleed and there is no piano playing on its own. Great imaginations though.

Lisa says:

October 17, 2011, 6:32 pm

On October 15th, 2011, my husband and I were in Virginia Beach, staying at another hotel. I had heard about the Cavalier and was told they are open to the public for meals, so off we went in hopes of seeing a bit of this hotel.

Again, I had it in mind that I wanted to encounter something from the other side, and I believe that “ghosts” and spirits do know when you are eager to encounter them. It’s like an open invitation of sorts. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced what I consider to be phenomenon like this.

We get to the hotel, enter the main lobby and are told in no uncertain terms that unfortunately the hotel is not open to the public on this day and only available for private parties. I asked the man who stopped us if he had any encounters, to which he was rather non-commital, and not very interested in the topic. We stood around for a minute or two and my husband actually got a few pictures of the place for the brief time we were there.

Disappointed, we walked out.

But…. this is where the encounter story begins to unfold….

We decided to go back to where we had parked the car previously (at our hotel we had just checked out of) and planned to have lunch on the beach before leaving to return to our home in New York.

We pull into the spot in the parking lot. Mind you, it had been a little windy here and there that day. But what I’m about to tell you seems to defy logic about how wind behaves.

Here’s what happened:

Once we were parked, I, wearing a baseball cap, opened my door. It was the front seat, passenger side. As soon as I opened the door, a strong gust of wind (now I’m still IN THE CAR, mind you) swiftly takes my hat, and the hat basically DISAPPEARED.

My husband quickly, even before me, got out and started searching high and low for this hat. I followed, searching everywhere. In the car, outside the car, under the car (you get the picture). We look around the parking lot. We searched for what must have been 5 or 10 minutes.

I thought to myself ” How could the hat have just been swept off my head like that and now we cannot find it anywhere??” I mean, there wasn’t a tornado or hurricane or anything. It was just a quick gust of wind that seemed to come right into the car and take the hat right off my head!!!

I checked with the front desk to make sure it was ok that we parked in that spot while we went for lunch. They said ” fine, no problem”. So, off we went to the beach for lunch.

I said to my husband ” Maybe that was a ghost from the Cavalier just letting me know he’s there, since I was interested in an encounter. ”

Then I said

” Watch. We’ll get back to the car and the hat will be right on the seat” (I’m getting chills just talking about this right now, which also makes me suspect this is the paranormal here. Had the same chills when relaying this story to our daughter).

After lunch, we walked back to the car.

THERE WAS THE HAT FACING TOWARD US RIGHT ON THE PAVEMENT NEXT TO OUR CAR’S FRONT SEAT DRIVER SIDE!!!!

It was perfectly positioned facing outward, not even toppled over.

It was in a VERY OBVIOUS and VISIBLE place. AND DEFINITELY WASN’T THERE when we searched before we left for lunch.

My feeling was that this was a ghost from the Cavalier playing with us. Kind of like a poltergeist. It was wild.

That’s my story. Can upload photos later as we do have a few.

I’m very interested to know if anyone else has encountered a similar experience with the Cavalier hotel.

Thanks for reading!

Chad Yates says:

October 24, 2011, 2:00 am

I had the worst experience ever at this place 12 years ago. I was NON believer, thought ghost stories were from mentally handicapped people or those wanting attention. I went there with my family. We turned in after a long day on the beach, I knew nothing about any ghost stories of this place. I do not drink either. Left window open to hear the ocean. About 3 am I heard a lot of people on the beach, I thought what the hell is going on. Looked out the window and saw hundreds of people from all eras dressed in all sorts of ways seemingly obliviously to what each other was doing. I watched and watched. There were men on horses in uniform, people playing in the water, etc. Then they all dissappeared. I immediately wrote it off as dreaming and too much sun, but knew i was still standing there wide awake. Locked the window tight, pulled the curtains and went back to sleep. I was sooo tired. Then about 30 minutes later my daughter was screaming in bathroom. Apparently she got up to use it, (9 yrs old) and the door locked on her and the light went off and she couldnt get the door open. for the record she has slept with the door closed in completely darkness since a toddler. First time I tried the door it was locked. I shook it, and tried to get her to open it. Then like magic it opened and she was no where even near it. The light bulb was blown so again i wrote it off as half asleep drama, but my daughter insisted she sleep with us…for the first time ever.We cuddled up and shortly afterwards i heard my wife saying jessica go back to bed honey. (jessica was beside me, not between us) I responded quickly “shes fine” and my wife said what do you want baby? thats when i turned over to explain why she was in our bed and realized my wife was sitting up staring at the door at an image we BOTH saw. She never even realized Jessica was beside me. It was definitely a young girl, I got up and turned every light on in the place looked in every closet, checked every door. my son slept thu all this without a peep, he was 12. next morning we realized the bathroom door didnt even have a lock and i couldnt get it to jam as hard as i tried. We paid for the weekend but left the next morning. I told the clerk and she just stared through me like i was crazy. 12 years later im still freaked out and get the chills thinking about it. frankly it still bothers me, i still have nightmares.

Chad yates says:

October 24, 2011, 2:18 am

Whoops noticed a typo, this happened two years ago, not 12. lol and we checked in late afternoon, left wife and kids in car to check rates, was surprised they had vacancies, every place else was booked. and another thing i forgot to mention this place was dirty and in in bad need of repair and renovation.

Sylvia says:

December 22, 2011, 11:58 pm

About 14 years ago, I took my daughter to the hotel for a holiday dance recital. After everything was over, we had trouble finding our way out. I opened a door and we found ourselves in the pool room. We stood there in our tracks for a few seconds. An eerie feeling came over us and when I looked at the pool, I told my daughter that we had to get out of there. We ran across the room and out the opposite door. Years later I found out about the girl who drowned in the pool.

Blair says:

January 20, 2012, 1:29 am

This is a bunch of BS! I live five mins from this hotel and plan to get married there one day! The only things that are haunting this hotel are my brothers who played in the hotel as children when it was being remodled! Stop giving this amazing piece of Virginia Beach a bad name!

Michelle says:

May 3, 2012, 3:54 pm

I have been here with my bestie! Its some scary ****!

Catherine says:

September 4, 2012, 3:30 pm

Hello! My name is Catherine and I have worked at the hotel for a long time. Seriously. Call them and ask about Catherine from Camp Cavalier. The hotel is haunted. The people from Virginia Beach that say it isn’t have never been there. I have to walk behing the old hotel every night at 11:00 or later and I see cat ghosts all the time. Also, there are rooms that people never go in and the lights stay on always. One room has blood dripping from the ceiling occasionally. I have seen the african american ghost before and told him I liked his uniform and he said, “The guys that I see staying here now a days do not dress like this at all.” I said, “I know I wish they did!” He smiled and reached to pat me on the back (we were walking past each other on the stairs) and then he was gone.

Laura says:

October 10, 2012, 12:03 pm

I’ve seen the Cavalier and the Chamberlin. And they are both equally haunted. As is some of the houses and grounds in Old Williamsburg. I’ve gone on a Ghost Walk in Williamsburg. I wish someone would tell about the old Victorian Houses on the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. I know of one ghost sighting in one.

Tammie says:

February 6, 2013, 10:03 pm

To Catherine
To work there and experience what you experience, is so cool. Happy for you to contact me and tell me more. morbiusj hotmail com (remove the spaces and angle brackets)

Nina says:

May 28, 2013, 5:35 pm

I think my house is haunted. I always see my grandma rocking in a chair next to my bed, but she past away years ago! It is VERY creepy. The guest room is always cold; I can see my breath when I walk into it. BRRR!!! I also hear the floorboards in the hall creak and when I call out to who’s there, something answers: “Want some tea, dearie?” in my grandma’s voice. IT IS FREAKY!!!

Matt says:

July 22, 2013, 1:34 am

Me and my family stayed at the cavalier for a few days while on vacation,there was a door in our hotel room that was locked but our cousins in the room next door didn’t have one in there’s .the last day we were there the door was unlocked and there was a boarded over bath tub with a piece of plywood on it,the temperature would also randomly rise and fall ,the elevator also had a mind of its own and decided which floor it wanted to go ,it would often bring us to the top floor(under construction at the time ) where all men in white working would stare at us until the door closed. It would also go to the 6 floor on occasion .my eyes tear whenever I think about this place

Matt says:

July 22, 2013, 1:40 am

Me and my family stayed at the cavalier for a few days while on vacation,there was a door in our hotel room that was locked but our cousins in the room next door didn’t have one in there’s .the last day we were there the door was unlocked and there was a boarded over bath tub with a piece of plywood on it,the temperature would also randomly rise and fall ,the elevator also had a mind of its own and decided which floor it wanted to go ,it would often bring us to the top floor(under construction at the time ) where all men in white working would stare at us until the door closed. It would also go to the 6 floor on occasion .my eyes tear whenever I think about this place although its still my favorite hotel.

Marissa says:

July 22, 2013, 4:08 pm

I was sleeping one night on the 6th floor. Around 3 in the morning, i hear something walking, then it sounds like skin hitting concret. Like someone feel from up high. Then the next hour, i heard footsteps outside my rooom. It was scary, but i had a fun time there

No one that you know says:

August 18, 2014, 6:18 pm

If this is the hotel I’m thinking of, I’m going to have to say that nothing happened during my stay. I was on the seventh floor. I’m a teenage girl. I have a weird thing for sensing the paranormal. For three nights I was there, and it was an awesome vacation. Nothing happens there. I promise.

Danielle says:

November 27, 2014, 7:14 am

The Cavalier is being redone – opening in 2016.

Angie says:

May 22, 2015, 6:10 am

I just went on a trip to Virginia Beach and stayed at one of the hotels nearby the Cavalier Hotel and it is being torn down but across the way a new Cavalier is being built. If the sightings of apparitions and other paranormal happenings in the old hotel are true, I wonder if the spirits have moved on or they are sticking around to move to the new location.

Zumi says:

June 15, 2016, 4:33 pm

I eat lemon cake in the ballroom and I am in picture hanging behind bar. Most times nobody sees me.

Zumi says:

June 28, 2016, 11:46 am

Room 408 last night they take my cake and pushed me down stairs gray men only ones who see me but they wont talk to me only hurt me

Mary says:

July 1, 2016, 4:41 pm

Do you go to room 408 often? wink wink

Zumi says:

July 15, 2016, 3:24 pm

Someone need to turn off bright light. So bright I not find my way anymore.

Zumi says:

July 25, 2016, 1:41 pm

Light gone but everything else gone too. I’m alone and no sound anymore and can’t taste my cake

George says:

August 1, 2016, 3:43 pm

Who you gonna call? Mary The Ghost ****** apparently!

Kamali says:

October 29, 2017, 4:56 pm

I stayed here once, unaware of it’s history or of the stories that indicate it’s haunted. On the first night I was there, my bathtub water turned on by itself.

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