Skip To Content
  • Viral badge
  • OMG badge

The Cecil Hotel Has Been Dubbed "A Hotbed For Death" — Here Are 16 Scary Facts About The Establishment

"The Cecil was a place where serial killers let their hair down."

Earlier this month, Netflix released their latest true crime docu-series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.

Promotional still for "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel"

The series focuses on the mysterious death of Elisa Lam, but it also does a deep dive into the scary and crime-ridden past of the Cecil.

Image of Elisa Lam

Now, going into this series, I was kinda familiar with the Elisa Lam case but, little did I know, that was only the TIP of the morbid iceberg that is the Cecil Hotel:

Image of the Cecil Hotel as it stands in 2013

So, here are all the creepy facts I've learned about the Cecil Hotel that have kept me up since I finished the doc:

1. The Cecil Hotel was founded in 1924 in Downtown, Los Angeles. The 19-floor and 700-room hotel was originally built to be a destination for business travelers and tourists; but after the Great Depression, it became a budget hotel that attracted unseemly clientele.

A former resident of the Cecil Hotel talking about how scandalous it used to be

Since its downfall, the Cecil housed sex workers, drug dealers, and, sometimes, homeless people.

2. The Cecil Hotel, also known as the Stay on Main, is located on Skid Row, a part of Los Angeles that is home to over 10,000 people experiencing homelessness.

A close-up of a hotel key to the Cecil

Amy Price, a former hotel manager at the Cecil, said that Skid Row, to her, was "the most dangerous place in Los Angeles."

3. The hotel was the inspiration for American Horror Story: Hotel, due to all the mysterious deaths that have happened there.


A literal horror series. 

4. After being bought in 2007, the Cecil/Stay on Main became half longtime stay for low-income/low-credit tenants and half hostel/budget lodging for tourists.

A photo of the outside of the Stay on Main

Many of the tourists who came to visit the "Stay on Main" did not know that they were, in fact, staying at the Cecil Hotel.

5. The bottom two floors of the Cecil were for long-term residents, the Stay on Main/youth hostel was on floors 4–6, and floors 7 and above were Cecil hotel rooms.

A blueprint of the Stay on Main within the Cecil Hotel

There was even a separate hotel entrance AND lobby for residents of the Stay on Main.

6. According to Kenneth Givens, former long-term resident of the Cecil, anything higher than the sixth floor was dangerous.


"It pretty much was lawless [back in the '80s]," Givens recounted. "Usually the higher floors at the Cecil [was where] people used to get killed."

7. Price said that there would be one to three 911 calls a DAY at the Cecil.

Voiceover of Amy Price

Price also said that during her decade-long tenure at the Cecil, there were thousands of 911 calls made.

8. During her tenure, Price said there were about 80 deaths in the hotel.

Amy Price talking about the many deaths that occurred while she worked at the Cecil

One reporter called the Cecil Hotel "a hotbed for death."

9. One of the most famous cases that happened at the Cecil was the mysterious disappearance and death of Elisa Lam.

Netflix / CCTV, Netflix

On Jan. 31, 2013, Elisa Lam went missing, and her last known location was the Cecil Hotel. On Feb. 19, Elisa was found in one of the water tanks on the roof of the Cecil. Even though her death has been ruled as an "accidental drowning with bipolar disorder as a significant factor," no one knows exactly why and how Elisa's body ended up in the water tank.

10. The reason why the police knew to look for Elisa in the water tanks was because some of the hotel tenants were complaining about the water from their sinks and showers.

Brownish water spewing from a bathroom faucet

The water pressure was low and the color of the water was grayish brown.

11. Following the death of Elisa Lam, reservations and visits to the Cecil SKYROCKETED.

Two patrons walking around one of the floors of the Cecil

A lot of people wanted to see for themselves what Elisa saw in her last moments.

12. Back in 1931, W.K. Norton overdosed on "poisonous capsules" in his hotel room. His death is "the earliest reported suicide."

A news clipping from the Los Angeles Times
LA Times

13. In 1962, after a fight with her husband, Pauline Otton jumped from the window of a seventh-story hotel room and landed on a pedestrian below, killing them both.

A news clipping from the Corvallis Gazette-Times
Corvallis-Gazette Times

14. In 1964, "Pigeon Goldie" Osgood — nicknamed because she frequently fed the pigeons in Pershing Square — was found raped, beaten, and stabbed in her hotel room. The case remains unsolved.

A news clipping from the San Bernardino County Sun
San Bernardino County Sun

15. Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker — who tortured, raped, and murdered residents of Los Angeles — lived at the Cecil.

Archived photo of the Night Stalker in court
Lennox Mclendon / Associated Press

He paid $14 a night for his room, where he would "walk in his bloodstained underwear barefoot up to his floor and into his room."

16. Jack Unterweger, an international serial killer, lived and killed at the Cecil in the early '90s.

Archived photo of Jack Unterweger on his way into court
Bill Cooke / Associated Press

He served a prison sentence in Austria for murdering a young German woman. After his release, he came to America to write an article about the red light district, which turned into a spree killing of female sex workers.

17. Last, but not least, Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, was rumored to be seen at the bar of the Cecil Hotel just days before her murder.

Archived headshot of Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Via Getty images

Her gruesome murder is still unsolved.