The historic and beautiful Phoenix-based boutique hotel, Hotel San Carlos, was selected as the backdrop for my engagement photos in the winter of 2010. My fiancé and I were looking for a spot that was quirky, historic and filled with vintage charm, all of which fit the bill at this amazing hotel. Built in 1928 and featuring the latest innovations of the time, including air conditioning, elevators and chilled water in every room, this hotel has seen many important events throughout its long history.
One of its more notorious happenings was the controversial suicide of Leone Jensen, mere months after the hotel’s opening. The incident was shrouded in mystery as to whether or not the young lady was pushed out a window, but the story lives on in infamy and provides much fodder for ghost hunters and visitors.
Upon our visit, it was a cold, stormy night. No, really, it was. We had planned to take photographs outside of the iconic building but with the intense storm outside, we had to settle on images within the hotel walls. We explored floor after floor with our photographers to make use of the nooks and crannies tucked away throughout as a backdrop for our photos.
Upon entering the 4th floor, we immediately noticed the décor was different and featured golden walls lined with mirrors. We decided to take the majority of our photos on this floor. Just outside the elevator bay on each floor was a framed piece of history that shared tidbits of information about the hotel throughout the years. Coincidentally, the 4th floor featured the headline and story from the 1928 article in The Arizona Republic on the death of Leone Jensen.
As we moved about the 4th floor snapping photographs, we noticed the guests on this floor were quite noisy. The hotel was nearly empty as it was off-season, yet doors were slamming, shrieks, yells and loud knocking could be heard no matter where we went on this floor. The “emergency exit” door even opened and closed a few times, which we attributed to the impending storm. After we had finished taking the photographs we needed, we retreated to the lobby area to finish up.
In the lobby, one of the photographers passively mentioned to the employee at the front desk that there seemed to be a lot of noise on the 4th floor and asked how busy the hotel was that night and if there was a large group staying on that floor. A few keystrokes on the computer later, the employee looked up at us and said, “The 4th floor is closed to guests. There’s no one staying on that floor.”
Needless to say, we’ve been happily haunted by the experience ever since, and the memories live on in our beautiful engagement photos.
Kim Higdon is a Phoenix native and a new mom who is always looking for new things to do with her growing family here in the Valley. Appreciating the active side of Phoenix, Kim likes to get out and explore all that this burgeoning city has to offer.